Friday, December 19, 2008

Senator Whipple calls for more bike lanes

Senator Mary Whipple represents the 31st District which includes much of Arlington County. She is chair of the health care subcommittee of the Senate Education and Health committee, and it was in that capacity that she recently attended a health care conference sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures. As reported in her most recent Richmond Report, she understands the importance of living an active lifestyle that includes bicycling.

"The most important lesson is that more attention must be given to chronic disease. We learned that chronic diseases ( heart disease, cancer, stroke, COPD, and diabetes) are the #1 cause of death and disability in the U.S. and patients with chronic diseases account for 75% of the nation's health care spending.

The vast majority of cases of chronic disease could be better prevented or managed. For example, the doubling of obesity in the last two decades accounts for nearly 30% of the rise in health care spending.

The lesson is clear: living a healthy life means a higher quality of life, less illness and lower costs. The World Health Organization estimates that at least 80% of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and more than 40% of cancer would be prevented if only Americans were to do three things: stop smoking; start eating healthy; and get in shape. All things we know we should do!

What can we do to promote wellness? Multiple examples from many states were offered. Such simple design changes as making stairs as prominent and accessible as elevators, and not hidden in back halls, can encourage physical activity. Community design that includes mixed-use development, more sidewalks, safe bicycle lanes and bike racks can really help. The idea is to make the healthy choice the easy choice."

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