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    Gov. Hogan urges residents to participate in Walk Maryland Day today
    DHMH will host an event for employees to promote activity’s health benefits
    Baltimore, MD (October 7, 2015) – Gov. Larry Hogan has declared October 7 to be Walk Maryland Day, to encourage Marylanders of all ages to take to the streets, trails and parks of the state to enjoy the benefits of walking. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) will host a lunchtime event to mark the day, as well.  
    “For the health of our state and our communities, I encourage all Marylanders to get active and go for a walk,” Governor Hogan said. “If you take steps every day to add more walking to your routine, it will pay dividends and help lead to a healthier lifestyle.”  
    “Maryland’s state agencies are dedicated to promoting physical activity opportunities where Marylanders work, live and learn,” said DHMH Secretary Van T. Mitchell. “Walking is an exercise suited for nearly everyone, is low-cost, convenient and safe.”  
    DHMH will host a Walk Maryland Day kickoff event for state employees at 11:45 a.m. in the upper lobby of the 201 West Preston Street building. Opening remarks will be offered by Dr. Howard Haft, DHMH’s Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services, and by Charles Chester, chairperson of the Maryland State Advisory Council on Physical Fitness. Employees are then invited to join in a half-mile walk around the Bolton Hill neighborhood surrounding the State Center office complex. Health-related exhibits will be on display in the lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  
    Walk Maryland Day is a collaborative effort between the DHMH, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the University of Maryland Extension, and was planned to coincide with National Walk to School Day, on October 7, for elementary and middle school children. Parents and teachers can get more information about Walk to School Day at http://walkbiketoschool.org.
    Walking has many health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, research shows walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help people:
    • Reduce the risk of heart disease,
    • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels,
    • Improve blood lipid (cholesterol) profile, 
    • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity, 
    • Enhance mental well-being, 
    • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis, 
    • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, and
    • Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
    Tracking steps and time walked is a great way to set goals around increasing activity. Maryland residents of all ages are invited to use the University of Maryland Extension’s Walk MD website to track miles walked and their progress toward a virtual 500-mile walk throughout Maryland. For more information about Walk Maryland Day or to register for the Walk Maryland program, visit the University of Maryland Extension’s page at https://extension.umd.edu/walkmd. 
    DHMH would like to thank MSDE, the University of Maryland Extension and the Maryland State Advisory Councils on Physical Fitness, Arthritis and Related Conditions, and Heart Disease and Stroke for their partnership, as well as their promotion of walking as a healthy activity for Marylanders to adopt.  
    U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy also has issued his Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. The purpose of the Call to Action is to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.
    The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the state government agency that protects Maryland’s public health and also works to help Marylanders make better health decisions for better health outcomes. Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH and www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH.