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SD Health Department Wants To Get More People Walking

The department of health wants to get more people walking.  Mobridge and Keystone are the latest towns receiving grants to access the walkability of sidewalks and streets.

Linda Ahrendt is the chronic disease director at the department of health.  She says exercising just 22 minutes daily significantly reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

“I think that sometimes the ability to say that walking makes a difference almost seems too simply, but reality is, is that it doesn’t taken take a lot. 15-10 minutes at a time, two or three times a day is enough to improve people’s health,” says Ahrendt.

The department of health is helping leaders in Mobridge and Keystone access sidewalks and streets after awarding each town a two thousand dollar grant. After deciding what changes need to be made, they encourage community members to work together to find additional funding.

Larissa Skjonsberg is the nutrition and physical activity program director at the department of health. She says she’s hopeful even in small towns adding signs or improving sidewalks is going to motivate people to exercise.

“But a lot of times those smaller communities are really looking at safety aspects. Whether or not it’s accessible, so maybe they’ve got sides walks in one area but it doesn’t connect them to another area so how can we make that more of a walking friendly area. So it’s doable in the smaller communities just because they don’t have beautiful trails per say maybe its utilizing what they already have available: adding signage, marking it, making it safer, and maybe adding lightening.”

Only about half of adults in South Dakota get the recommended amount of exercise each week.

Skjonsberg says the risk of chronic disease statewide is higher on reservations and in lower economic regions.