Green River Star -

By Brad Raney
Parks and Recreation Director 

Walk Your Way to Better Health in Green River

 


One out of every two U.S. adults is living with a chronic disease, such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes. These diseases contribute to disability, premature death and rising health care costs. The United States Surgeon General has implemented a call to action to combat this heath crisis. What does the call to action consist of you might ask; billions of dollars to research new drugs, expensive nutrition programs, taxes on sugary beverages and unhealthy snacks? Luckily, none of the above is true. The call to action is simple: walk.

Walking does not require special skills, facilities or expensive equipment and is an easy physical activity to begin and maintain as part of a physically active lifestyle. Most people are able to walk; and many people with disabilities are able to walk or move with assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or walkers. Walking has a lower risk of injury than vigorous-intensity activities. Walking also may be a good way to help people who are inactive become physically active because walking can be easily adapted to fit one’s time, needs and abilities.

The solution of physical activity through walking seems simple but why don’t we do it? According to research, time, safety and disability are the top barriers that prevent people from walking. Community design or “walkability” also plays an important role.

If distances to schools and shopping areas are too great or people feel unsafe in a neighborhood, they are less likely to walk to their destination. Community design can support physical activity, for example, by locating residences within short walking distance of stores, worksites, public transportation, essential services, and schools and by building and maintaining sidewalks or paths between destinations that are well-connected, safe and attractive. Street design can also support walking and enhance pedestrian safety through measures that improve street lighting and landscaping and reduce traffic speed.

In Green River we are fortunate to have nearly 13 miles of paved trails designated for non-motorized transportation. The paved trails not only provide access to beautiful scenery but also connect neighborhoods to parks, schools and shopping areas making it an important part of our transportation infrastructure. Even when the weather gets bad the parks department works hard to remove snow from the walking paths. Between FMC Park and the Killdeer Wetlands the city owns well over 700 acres of natural areas to get out and explorer. In addition to trails, the city has an outstanding police department to keep neighborhoods safe for walking. With the help of sixth-penny funds the city is improving roads, sidewalks and using progressive street design to improve walker safety. While there are great opportunities in our city, there is still much work to be done to make our city more walkable.

Ultimately, individuals make the decision to walk and be physically active. I challenge everyone to get out and walk. It can be as simple as parking further away when you grocery shop, walking on a work break or taking a walk around the block after dinner. If you have ideas on how we can make Green River a better place to walk I would love to hear them. You can send ideas or comments to braney@cityofgreenriver.org.

 

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