With Tennessee rated the 49th worst state for physical activity and 47th for obesity, one cannot argue about the need for improved health. Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, believes those ratings can change if state and city leaders increase efforts to make bicycling and walking safer and more convenient.
"We applaud the Tennessee Department of Transportation and city governments across the state for their leadership in seeking ways to improve biking and walking for all Tennesseans," Dreyzehner said. "Biking and walking are transportation. If we all walked and biked more, we could reduce traffic congestion, pollution, heart attacks, cancer and diabetes. More of us would live longer, healthier lives and the burden of health care costs we all share could decrease."
Among the top 10 leading causes of death in Tennessee in 2014,
obesity and a lack of exercise are contributing factors in five, including:
• Heart disease - 15,197 dead
• Cancer - 14,153 dead
• Chronic lower respiratory disease - 3,967 dead
• Cerebrovascular disease - 3,322 dead
• Diabetes - 1,724 dead
"Bicycling and walking are among the best forms of exercise," said TDH Family and Health and Wellness Director Michael D. Warren, MD, MPH. "Both provide excellent benefits for the heart, burn calories and increase muscle development, and contribute to improved mental health. Walking or biking can be a great 'prescription' to help restore the health of many who have been diagnosed with diseases that may otherwise lead to poor quality of life or early death."
"I rediscovered the sheer joy of bicycling a few years ago and it's now become my favorite way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors," said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Legislative Affairs Valerie Nagoshiner. "With the number of greenways, bike lanes and sidewalks in our communities, I see more and more people out enjoying a walk, bike ride or run. Many people are riding their bikes to the store or walking to lunch. Walking and bicycling are great ways to get where you need to go and have fun with family and friends."