A recent State of the State’s Health report from the Oklahoma Department of Health reports Oklahoma is the 44th least physically active state in the nation and has the sixth highest rate of obesity.
The report uses a grading system for Oklahoma counties, and Sequoyah County gets an F in both physical activity and obesity. The county and the state both get Fs is most disease categories including stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
Easy and economical opportunities to stay healthy exist in Sallisaw and the county.
Louise Musselman with the Oklahoma Department of Health, said, “Walking is an effective way to improve posture and balance, helps with weight management, and is great for your cardiovascular health. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death, and walking is free, we all need to be walking more!”
There are numerous walking trails in the area to fight that expanding waist line. And they are free and can be fun.
The City of Sallisaw maintains two walking trails, which cost nothing to use, and offer an alternative to cleaning house for 30 minutes a day to reach an exercise goal.
The Jay Reynolds Park, at Iola and Opdyke, has an easy no-hills walking trail that equals one mile in length for one and a half times around the loop.
The park also offers playground equipment, a picnic shelter, restrooms and, for those in search of more strenuous exercise, an 18-hole disc golf course.
The McGee Park Lions Club walking trail is on North McGee just north of Cherokee. This walking trail is almost a nature trail, and most lies along a creek bank where both flora and fauna can be observed. Fair warning, the picturesque trail also has some hills in the back to take off a few more pounds. The McGee Park also offers picnic facilities, playground equipment and softball facilities with a concession stand open in the spring and summer.
Brushy Lake Park, north of Sallisaw, also has walking and biking trails, with graded loop routes from easy to more extreme. City officials said the trails are still being expanded by volunteers.
The City of Sallisaw also has plans for the future. A recent federal grant will help the city build a walking and nature trail at the new Sports Complex on the city’s east side. That trail is still in the early planning stages.
The Redbird Smith Health Center at 301 S. J.T. Stites St. has a walking trail that is also free and open to the public. For information about that facility call 918-775-9159.
Other Sequoyah County towns also have walking trails where it is easy and cost free to walk away the pounds. For information on those facilities contact the town halls in Gore, Vian, Marble City, Muldrow and Roland.
And remember, it costs nothing to get up off the couch and go for a walk.
How to Begin
The Mayo Clinic offers the following for safe walking for those starting an exercise program.
· Get the right gear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion feet and absorb shock. Wear comfortable clothes and gear appropriate for various types of weather. When walking outdoors in the dark, wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility.
· Choose the course carefully. If you'll be walking outdoors, avoid paths with cracked sidewalks, potholes, low-hanging limbs or uneven turf.
· Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.
· Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.
· Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you'd rather stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.
· Start slowly — especially if you haven't been exercising regularly. You might start with five minutes a day the first week, and then increase the time by five minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes.
· Drink lots of water before, during and after exercise.
Just a little time and effort could get Sequoyah County an A, not an F, for being healthy.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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