May is a fine time to boost your physical activity levels because the daylight hours are long and the temperatures are increasingly mild.
One way to get some exercise is by using active transportation, including walking or biking, to get to errands and work. Thurston County provides many opportunities to try it — on streets, trails or transit routes.
Your health benefits from even the minimum recommended time of 30 minutes of exercise per day (one hour for children and youths), five or more days a week. Just 20 to 25 minutes of walking or five to seven minutes of bicycling can cover a mile or more, in many cases allowing you to get to services or places you need to be.
During May, you can participate in the Bicycle Commuter Challenge. This year, national Bike to Work Day is May 19. In the fall, you might hear about events such as Walk to School Day or Wheel Options to try a healthier form of travel. Resources, including maps and information on forms of transportation, are at ThurstonHeretoThere.org.
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When you step out or ride:
▪ Wear light-colored clothes and, if cycling, a helmet.
▪ Use a flashlight or other active lighting if you’re out after dark, and have reflective material on yourself or your backpack, purse or other bag you carry.
▪ Use a front light and red rear reflector while bicycling after dusk or before dawn. Both are required by law. If you have companions on your walk — a child, a pet — make them highly visible.
▪ Cross streets carefully at well-lit places, preferably where there are good markings or warning signals. It’s safest to act as though you can’t be seen, particularly around dusk or when it’s dark, so only cross in front of vehicles when you know they are stopped. Or better yet, wait until all traffic has cleared the road you cross.
▪ Travel in groups. Numbers bring safety and you’ll be more visible walking or riding in groups.
▪ Avoid falls by looking for routes that have features such as ramps on curbs or corners, or a level walking surface.
Thurston Thrives’ Community Design Action Team engages the community to improve access to our region’s trails — including more direct walking paths and better signs. The group was awarded finalist standing in the nationwide Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge. Positive change and participation can make our community even better.
Activity can be as simple as going out your front door. A small effort, and a few precautions, and you’ll be on your way to better health, while improving community health by reducing pollution and climate change emissions.
Reach Dr. Rachel C. Wood, health officer for Thurston and Lewis counties, at 360-867-2501, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @ThurstonHealth on Twitter.