Missourians Urged To Make Healthier Lifestyle Choices

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Hundreds of people from throughout Missouri plan to come together this week to celebrate good health and the importance of exercise with a walk around the historic state Capitol in Jefferson City.

The public is invited to join and add to the festive atmosphere of the event, supported by three organizations working to improve the health of Missourians.

Margaret Donnelly, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, will kick off the event by leading a walk to emphasize the importance of public health and to urge Missouri residents to make lifestyle choices that improve their health.

“Walking is a good start to getting healthier,” said Donnelly. “It is free, which makes it an affordable way to begin including physical activity in your daily routine.”

The state health department and the American Heart Association will host the walk beginning at noon on Wednesday, April 8. The walk starts at the Carnahan Memorial Garden next to the governor’s mansion. The event will highlight National Public Health Week, which runs from April 6 to 12, YMCA Advocacy Day and the American Heart Association’s National START! Walking Day.

The theme for this year’s Public Health Week is Building the Foundation for a Healthier Missouri.

“Good health is built on a foundation of healthy choices,” Donnelly said. “We all can make choices every day that will improve our health, individually and as a state.”

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The health department is promoting healthy lifestyle choices during Public Health Week with its Live Like Your Life Depends On It program. The program focuses on five recommendations:

* Eat smart. A healthy diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products.

* Move more. Health experts recommend engaging in at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.

* Be tobacco free. Avoid smoking and breathing secondhand smoke, which can contribute to lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and other health problems.

* Get recommended health screenings. When problems are detected early, they can be more easily and successfully treated. Recommended screenings include tests for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, colorectal cancer, and – for women – breast and cervical cancer. A health-care professional can recommend the right time for each screening.

* Maintain a healthy weight. Eating right and being physically active can help prevent obesity, which contributes to many chronic diseases.

“Healthy changes are not always easy to make, but the payoff is a better quality of life for you and your family,” Donnelly said. “Every change you make puts you one step closer to better health.”

The Carnahan Memorial Garden is located on Madison Street next to the Governor’s Mansion. In the case of inclement weather, the walk will be moved to the rotunda located on the third floor of the Missouri Capitol.

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