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Eastern Kentuckians working to improve health rankings

By: Whitney Burks Email
By: Whitney Burks Email

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Studies show Eastern Kentucky is one of the most unhealthy regions in the state, and now some people in Pike County are trying to fight back.

For many the start of a new year means a stronger focus getting healthy.

"Health is very important to everybody, and of course New Year's resolutions are always big," said YMCA Director Sherry Riddle.

An annual study by the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin compares health rankings of nearly every county across the country, and in 2012 that study showed most Eastern Kentucky counties ranked the lowest in the commonwealth.

"The real underlying story of the county health rankings is that where you live, learn, work and play matters to your health," said Angela Russell with the Population Health Institute.

In Pike County, which ranks 116 out of 120, some groups are making an initiative to change those rankings. At the YMCA they promote "Healthy Mondays" where anyone, even those who are not YMCA members, can join in for a little extra exercise.

"We have a lot of these issues in Eastern Kentucky as a lot of states do, but we are trying our best to promote health and wellness," said Riddle.

Officials at the YMCA say they hope promoting things like simply walking the track will help beat the stigma Eastern Kentucky has of being unhealthy.

"If you can take 2,000 steps a day it's better for your health," said Riddle.

At the Population Health Institute they hope their rankings will help everyone work harder to get healthier.

Anyone wanting to participate in "Healthy Mondays" at the Pikeville YMCA can go any Monday from 11-1. Walking the track is free to everyone during those times.

They also have "Wellness Wednesdays" to promote health. Each Wednesday you can hear from a guest speaker about different health topics. Lunch will be served.

County rankings can be found on the County Health Rankings website (link below).

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