Note: This week is National Public Health Week. This week I have a five-part public health series that explores the vast network of programs and services that help improve the health and wellness of all Arizonans. 

We have several public awareness campaigns and resources that help Arizonans in making decisions that positively affect their health. These programs include choosing healthy foods, being more physically active, and quitting smoking.

The Arizona Nutrition Network provides nutritional education to families, schools and child care centers. We promote healthy recipes that are appealing, easy-to-make, and full of flavor. There is also a kids’ activities and games section focused on healthy eating. The Arizona Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program promotes access to healthy foods beverages by providing eligible WIC participants $30 per season to purchase fresh fruits and veggies at local markets.

Our Arizona Physical Activity Program promotes moderate daily physical activity to help people live longer and healthier lives. Increased activity strengthens muscles and bones, improves the heart, and boosts the immune system. This can include brisk walking, running, playing basketball, and even activities like pushing a stroller, housecleaning, and gardening. We stray away from the word ‘exercise’ because of its negative association with regiments and gyms. It becomes work whereas playing is fun, doable, and can involve the entire family.

The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline, known as the ASHLine, has helped Arizona’s adult smoking prevalence rate drop from 19.1 percent to 14 percent from 2009 to 2014. That is 200,000 fewer smokers who have added years to their lives. The quit coaches, many of whom are former smokers, help develop a quit plan as well as provide tips, advice and support. If you are ready to quit smoking, call the ASHLine today at 1-800-55-66-222 for free coaching and up to four weeks free of nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum and patches.

Being healthy is the result of many healthy decisions made throughout a lifetime. These include making the decision to cook at home and eating fresh foods over fast food. It also means deciding to quit smoking to improve your health and those around you. Enjoy the outdoors while you can and when it gets hot you can always seek refuge walking in an air-conditioned mall. Just as you count each step you take; take each decision one-step at a time. Check back tomorrow when I will feature how we respond to extreme to keep people safe.