When Shad Baker, county Extension agent for Agricultural/ Natural Resources, read in the November 25 issue of The Mountain Eagle
that Letcher County leads Kentucky in obesity, and that we tied for thirdhighest in the number of residents with Type 2 diabetes, he knew that this was the greatest threat to our county and something had to be done.
The first question is, “How active are the people in Letcher County?”
“I think most of our people have tended towards sitting and riding everywhere they go. When I was a kid, everyone walked. Hunters hiked to good spots, they didn’t ride ATVs. Kids ran around the yard and climbed the hills, they didn’t sit and play games or watch TV. Watching TV back then was actually punishment. Moms were constantly on the go — getting groceries,
going to work and shopping
with friends. All of this involved a lot of walking,“ said Baker.
All these things have led to us having many more health problems and we just don’t have the energy or feel as well as we would if we were healthy. Every person in Letcher County should ask themselves some personal questions like, ‘Do I sit too much (more than two-three hours a day)?’ ‘How far do I walk each day (most folks should be walking at least a mile or two)?’ Our biggest hurdle to good health is our lack of activity.
Some suggestions to increase your activity levels:
• Park farther away from store doors so you can get in a little exercise.
• Get up 30 minutes earlier and walk around your neighborhood or up and down the road.
• Park the ATV and walk more this hunting season (save the ATV for hauling the deer out later).
• Set limits on how much TV, computer, etc. you spend time. Anything more than two-three hours per day is too much.
• Try to walk, hike, etc., a minimum of 30 minutes for three days each week.
• Finally, if you lack the willpower on your own, join a group who will encourage you to get moving.
The Letcher County Extension Office led by Shad J. Baker will be hosting Wellness Walks on Wednesday mornings at 8 a.m. at the Riverside Park walking track in Whitesburg. The first wellness walk is set for 8 a.m. on Aug. 4.
Walkers will start with a goal of seven laps, which equal a mile, and increase one lap each Wednesday morning until we are at three miles at the end of October. Everyone that participates will receive a log to record walking and a pedometer. The program is open to everyone, fancy clothing and equipment are not needed. However, proper walking shoes can protect you from getting hurt.
For those who prefer a change of scenery and a bit more challenge, the office is also off ering a Hiking for Health class every Thursday at 3 p.m. at the top of the mountain in Jenkins. We’ll park behind the gas station and hike on the Pine Mountain Trail. Depending on the average level of participants, we will start easy and build up to walking 4.5 miles round trip. Don’t let that scare you. It will be gradual.
For more information, call Shad Baker at 633-2362.