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News Release

Leave the car at home for a healthy change: health unit

May 31, 2011
Public health officials say it’s time for Simcoe and Muskoka residents to leave the car in the driveway once in a while, for cleaner air and for good health.

Public health officials say it’s time for Simcoe and Muskoka residents to leave the car in the driveway once in a while, for cleaner air and for good health.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s I Can Walk campaign, which starts today, June 1, urges people to walk, cycle, or use other human-powered modes of travel for shorter trips from home.

They’re asking local residents to “take the pledge” using the online tool on the website www.icanwalk.ca.

“It’s not hard to add a half hour of walking or cycling to a day, if it’s for routine trips all of us take every day such as picking up the mail, going to the corner store or the coffee shop or heading to work or walking the kids to school,” says public health nurse Christine Johnston, in the chronic disease prevention – healthy lifestyle program at the health unit.

“We know how hard it can be for people to slot time into their daily lives for a fitness class or a recreational walk. So we’re focusing on the short trips that people take every day because it will make getting exercise easier,” Johnson says.

That half hour most days of the week is all that’s needed to reach the 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise recommended for adults in the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.

“Being able to walk to work, stores, libraries and restaurants is important. People are realizing that leaving the car at home to walk or bike is good for their health and the environment,” adds public health nurse Lori Hunter in the healthy lifestyle program.

“A survey done last year in our area showed Simcoe Muskoka residents feel that having local services such as work, restaurants or schools within walking distance is an important factor when they are deciding where to live,” Hunter says.  “We want people to know how easy it is to make the decision to become more active. ‘Walk and bike more – drive less, take the pledge’.”

The Healthy Lifestyle program will be tracking the number of people who take the pledge on the I Can Walk website, to see what kind of impact the campaign has by the end of October.

To kick the campaign off, information and log charts will be available at a variety of walking and family fitness events during the first weeks of June. The events range from Trails Open walks in Midland, Tiny and Tay townships to Orillia’s Bike to Work Week June 6 to 11.

Full details on the dates and locations of the June events can be found on the health unit website at www.simcoemuskokahealth.org.

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