Gov. Mary Fallin did more than tell state workers and others Wednesday to develop healthy habits. She led them on a walk around the state Capitol complex.
It's the second year Fallin has led the Governor's Walk for Wellness. About 225 people, mostly state workers, but also agency heads, members of Fallin's Cabinet and some workers from the private sector took part in the walk around the north lawn of the state Capitol.
“We can make a difference in our personal health,” Fallin, wearing an Oklahoma City Thunder T-shirt, told the crowd. “We can make a difference in the state's health.”
Oklahoma made baby steps last year in improving its health rankings by the United Health Foundation: Oklahoma moved up to 43 from 46. Its rankings showed 31.2 percent adults in Oklahoma are physically inactive compared with 26.2 percent nationally; 26.1 percent of Oklahomans smoke compared with 21.2 percent nationally and 31.1 percent of Oklahomans are obese compared with 27.8 percent nationally.
“I want to encourage all of you to remain committed to healthier living: Watch what you eat, exercise — walking is always good, run if you can,” she told her walking companions. “Make that commitment not just today, but make a commitment every day to think about your health and your wellness.”
Several state employees said they appreciated Fallin's efforts to motivate them to live healthier.
“If your governor is setting a good example, it helps to pass that down through, especially to the state agencies,” said Michelle Thompson, who works at the Oklahoma Tax Commission. “It's a great start.”
Thompson said she and a co-worker, Crystal Raymond, use their breaks to walk. They also bring their lunch to work instead of eating fast food.
Raymond said the governor's walk encouraged state workers and others to get more involved in healthy living choices, especially those who needed some motivation.
Mickey Morgan, who works for the Department of Human Services, said the governor leading the walk was a good way to reinforce efforts by the agency to develop a wellness program.
“I've always been big into health and fitness anyways, and it's something that we've tried to do around the agency so it seemed important just to be a part of it,” he said.
Fallin encouraged state agencies and businesses to develop wellness programs, such as helping workers watch their nutrition, quit smoking and to walk or exercise before and after work or during the lunch period.
“As people get healthier, we lower our health care costs because we're healthier individuals,” Fallin said. “We also reduce employee absenteeism, which makes our workers more productive … and we decrease rates of illnesses and injuries.”