Recent Op-Eds

Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate adopted my bipartisan resolution designating May as "National Physical Fitness and Sports Month."

Developing healthy habits is important for all of us, both young and old. Snow may still be falling in places, but Spring is on the way in South Dakota, so across the state and the country, local YMCAs, after school programs, and other organizations take time during the month of May to recognize the need to get fit, stay active, and look at new ways to promote physical activity.

As we talk more about health care reform and the uninsured, it is important to remember that each of us has a responsibility concerning our own care and to educate our children on the importance of staying healthy. Childhood obesity and diabetes are on the rise, and it is not just affecting our health, but also our pocketbooks.

According to South Dakota's Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, more than 50,000 South Dakotans have diabetes and projections show that number will continue to increase. Diabetes can cause severe complications and takes a tremendous toll on patients and their families.

It is helpful to know that both heart disease and type 2 diabetes are largely preventable. Obesity and inactivity are two of the major risk factors associated with these diseases---which means a healthy diet and regular physical activity at all ages can go a long way toward improving our quality of life and reducing our health care bills.

Experts recommend that adults should engage in light exercise for 30 minutes, five times per week, or more vigorous activity for 20 minutes, three times per week. Whether you enjoy jogging, cycling, team sports, or even rock climbing, South Dakota affords many opportunities for fun physical activity.

The month of May is also a time to recognize the importance of sports to our state and to our schools. Getting involved in your local school team, youth, high school, or college, is a great way to stay motivated and focused in school and to develop healthy habits that will last for many years. It is also a tremendously important part of community life in South Dakota.

My resolution designating May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is supported by the YMCA, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and many other organizations dedicated to health and fitness. I hope that you will join me this May and get outside, enjoy South Dakota, and help keep our state healthy.