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Opinion

January 9, 2013

Fallin promotes fitness for 2013

OKLAHOMA — It’s the beginning of a New Year, which means that many Oklahomans have made resolutions and personal goals for themselves for 2013. A lot of those resolutions probably include plans to get in shape and become more physically active.

I know as well as anyone that a resolution made on January 1 can seem daunting by January 31. But if improving your health and the health of your families is one of your goals, let me encourage you not to give up!

Getting fit isn’t just important for our personal well being; it’s an important pocketbook issue for Oklahoma families and a vital factor in the state’s economic wellbeing. Unfortunately, we have a lot of work to do. A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that Oklahoma is the least heart healthy of all 50 states. Our sedentary lifestyle and high rates of obesity – along with poor habits like smoking – are certainly contributors to Oklahoma’s high rate of cardiovascular disease deaths.

What does that mean for Oklahomans? Obviously, it contributes to lower life expectancy and higher medical bills for those who are unhealthy. But it also drives up the cost of health care for everyone, straining the budgets of families who purchase insurance and making it unaffordable for others. Finally, lost workforce productivity costs Oklahoma businesses hundreds of millions of dollars each year, which in turn slows economic growth and reduces job creation.

Clearly, it benefits each one of us individually and as a community to reverse this trend. So how can we get started?

Improving health can actually be easier than you think. While public health experts generally recommend about 150 minutes of physical activity per week for adults, we now know that even low, modest levels of physical activity – equivalent to 10 minutes per day of walking – can prompt health benefits. Amazingly, the average American adult spends nearly 50 to 70 percent of time each day sitting, which increases the risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and dying prematurely. So let’s all resolve to be active and sit less!

At the state Capitol, we are putting finishing touches on a new fitness center, paid for by contributions from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust and generous donations from the Oklahoma Hospital Association. The center will be open for capitol employees and lawmakers, who I hope will set an example for the rest of the state by using this new resource to improve their health.  But the truth is you don’t need a fitness center, a gym membership or high-tech workout equipment to make a difference. Making physical activity a part of your day can be easier and more enjoyable than you think. The following are a few recommendations to increase your physical activity:

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