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Walking West Virginia

What’s the big deal about walking?  It’s simple and most of us do it every day.  But, with rising rates of obesity in all age groups, specialists and healthcare providers are using walking as a way to help people take charge of their health. 

State Health Officer Gives Prescription for Better Health 
The Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease (HPCD) advocates for the management and prevention of chronic disease.  We strive to provide individuals, healthcare providers, communities and decision-makers with the tools necessary to improve health for all West Virginians. One of HPCD's primary goals is to reduce the rate of obesity in West Virginia.  We do this by promoting healthy lifestyles that include physical activity and good nutrition across the lifetime. 
For more information contact HPCD, or call 304-356-4193. 
On this page

file6631299981022.jpgWhat’s the problem?

West Virginians don't get enough physical activity.

  • Only 29% of West Virginia adults get any physical activity outside of work
  • 87% of West Virginia adults did not meet physical activity guidelines
  • Inactive adults have a higher risk of early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers
(2013 WV BRFSS; CDC Vital Signs)
Regular physical activity lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and helps control type 2 diabetes.  It improves mood, memory and overall health. 
Walking is good exercise for people of all ages and it’s free. You can walk alone or in a group, at any time of day, and in most types of weather.”
Dr. Rahul Gupta, Commissioner,
West Virginia Bureau for Public Health

Ten Reasons to Take a Walk

  1. Reduce chances of developing a chronic disease
  2. Improve health if you already have a chronic disease
  3. Strengthen bones and muscles
  4. Boost your mood
  5. Gets you more involved with your neighbors and community
  6. Burns calories
  7. Reignites your brain’s creativity centers*
  8. Almost everyone can join in
  9. There are ways to fit walking into all parts of your day
  10. It’s (usually) free!


Checkup.JPGMost people don’t need to see a doctor before walking, but if you have shortness of breath or any health problem, speak with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. 

Make safety a priority in planning when, and where, to walk. 
  • Wear clothing that is brightly colored or reflects light
  • Let someone know where you will be and when you will return
  • Take a cell phone and ID
  • Be aware of those around you
  • Know and follow all traffic laws
What is HPCD doing to make walking a priority?  

​Working with communities to increase access to physical activity and improve walking environments. 

HPCD partners with Growing Healthy Communities, Try This, Mountains of Hope Cancer Coalition to provide mini-grants and technical assistance to improve walkable communities.

Assisting worksites to improve and strengthen physical activity policies that can promote walking before, during and after work.​

Partner in the statewide Physical Activity Plan.

Partner in the West Virginia Physical Activity Network.

​Working with schools and early childhood education centers to improve and strengthen physical activity policies that can promote walking before, during and after school.​

Encouraging healthcare providers to assess patients for physical activity and making referrals to community resources where patients can be active/walk. 

file0001964584230.jpgA top priority for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health (BPH) is working with communities, worksites and schools to improve trails and sidewalks for walking and assure connectivity in transportation planning.  The goal is for West Virginians of all ability levels to have easy and safe access to physical activity.
Contact the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health at 304-558-2971​​
What Can Others Do?
Local Governments Can
  • Think of walking when making long-range plans
  • Design streets and roads that are safe for walking
  • Create shared-use agreements within the community
  • Make sure walkways are well-lit and in good condition
  • Provide signage that promotes walking
Worksites Can
  • dp1815708_w.jpgCreate and support walking programs for employees
  • Identify and provide signage promoting walking routes around the worksite
  • Provide places for employees to change and/or shower if possible
You Can
  • Start a walking group with friends and neighbors
  • Help other walkers be safe by following traffic laws
  • Use crosswalks and follow traffic laws when walking
  • Join in community planning efforts to assure walking is considered
  • Work with parents and schools to encourage safe walking to school
How much physical activity do I need?
  • DiverseGroup.jpgAges 5- 17: Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day
  • Ages 18+:  2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week

10 minutes at a time is fine

150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but it's not. That's 2 hours and 30 minutes, about the same amount of time you might spend watching a movie.

The good news is that you can spread your activity out during the week, so you don't have to do it all at once. You can even break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. It's about what works best for you, as long as you're doing physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.

More time equals more health benefits

Taking her Pulse.jpgIf you go beyond 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, you'll gain even more health benefits.
CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

Town  - iStock_000000824306Medium.jpgWhat is walkability? 

Walkability is when the community links safe pathways to schools and homes, and where people can meet their everyday needs on foot.

How walkable is my community?

You can make a difference in the health of your community. Use the walkability checklist to find your community's score.

Health Promotion and Chronic Disease
350 Capitol Street, Room 514  Charleston, WV 25301-3715
Ph: (304) 356-4193 Fx: (304) 558-1553