I have always considered myself a Healthy Active Arkansan, and that is why I am pleased that my administration launched Healthy Active Arkansas, the 10-year campaign to reduce the rate of obesity in our state and to increase healthy lifestyles.

Healthy Active Arkansas offers encouragement for Arkansans to lose weight and to maintain a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercise. Healthy Active Arkansas promotes a variety of good-health initiatives, from campaigns that encourage Arkansans to drink more water to support for private breast-feeding areas at public venues.

The Arkansas Department of Health is another partner in our effort to encourage healthy lifestyles.

The department recently announced a new program called Be Well Arkansas. This new initiative offers telephone counseling with a focus on tobacco use, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

The website offers specific guidelines to create plans to improve health, including a plan to quit smoking.

The counselors, who have been trained through an MD Anderson program, provide over-the-phone tobacco and nicotine cessation services. They also offer counseling for managing diabetes and controlling blood pressure.

Programs that help tobacco users stop using tobacco in any form are especially important as the number of teenagers who use e-cigarettes has increased from less than 2 percent in 2010 to almost 20 percent. E-cigarettes are not harmless, and experts have said that one risk is that e-cigarettes break down the fear of tobacco cigarettes.

Aside from the threat to the health of young Arkansans, the health-related illnesses cost Arkansas billions of dollars in medical bills and insurance payments.

Obesity and diabetes are two of the other conditions of most concern. The health department has a lifestyle counselor in every region of the state to answer questions and to help you create a plan to improve your health.

One aspect of good health is to stay active. No matter how busy you are with your job or your children, you ought to find time for physical activity. Anyone can make time for a brisk 20-minute walk three or four days a week.

My schedule doesn’t allow much time for exercise, so I have to make a serious effort to fit it in. My routine is 30 minutes of daily workout that includes 100 jumping jacks and sit ups. And I try to have some fun along the way, so I play full-court pickup basketball once a week. Even when I’ve traveled internationally, I’ve managed to work in some basketball.

The state of our health ultimately is up to each of us. But in Arkansas, we like to guide Arkansans to a healthy lifestyle. I commend the Department of Health for launching Be Well Arkansas.

CONTACT: Press Shop (press@governor.arkansas.gov or 501.682.3642)