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FOR RELEASE: September 12, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Oklahomans Will Walk for Health on October 2

What happens when 100,000 Oklahomans get moving in a walk that symbolizes a commitment to a new lifestyle that includes exercise?

Organizers for a Walk for Health scheduled Wednesday, Oct. 2, are hoping the statewide event will lead to an improved awareness of the benefits of regular exercise. Over the past decade, Oklahomans have exercised much less than the rest of the nation, even though programs to enhance physical activity have been proven to be effective in helping reduce obesity and its contribution to heart disease, stroke and arteriosclerosis.

Public health leaders in Oklahoma City and in communities throughout the state will be "walking the talk " on Oct. 2. In Oklahoma City, the walk will be held in conjunction with the National Turning Point Conference in downtown Oklahoma City. The walk will begin at the Renaissance Hotel at 5:30 p.m. and will include a one-mile walk to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Walkers can continue on a route through historic Heritage Hills (maps will be provided), returning to the hotel for a total of 4.2 miles. State Health Commissioner Dr. Les Beitsch and State Schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett have been asked to lead the walk, along with other dignitaries.

As part of "Turning Point Walk for Health Day" proclaimed by Gov. Keating for Oct. 2, communities throughout the state are being encouraged to host similar walking events to get Oklahomans walking for health, with a goal of 100,000 Oklahomans participating. Walkers should log on to the Oklahoma Turning Point Council Web site, www.otpc.org, to learn how families, schools, and communities can participate. For more information on this event, call Carol Bush at 918/486-2845 or Larry Olmstead at 405/271-6127.

In a similar event on Oct. 2, Oklahomans will also be asked to observe Walk to School Day. This is the sixth year this event has been observed in the United States, with the idea behind its organization to promote health, safety, physical activity, and concern for the environment.

Less than 30 years ago, more than two-thirds of children walked or rode their bicycles to school. Today, less than 10 percent of children travel to school by foot or bicycle. This lack of physical activity contributes to childhood obesity, which has many serious health consequences.

In Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Safe Kids Coalition will be holding a Walk to School Day event at Stand Watie Elementary School. In the Mid-Del school district, the Country Estates Elementary School will be participating in the event. The school's PTA group will assist children crossing intersections near the school.

For more information on Walk to School Day, contact the School Health Program at the Oklahoma State Department of Health at 405/271-4471, or check out the Walk to School Day Web site at www.walktoschool.org.

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