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Ricketts promotes exercise program to kick off 2022

January 3, 2022 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts kicked off the new year on Monday with a walk around the Nebraska Capitol to promote the benefits of exercise.

Ricketts and others used the event to encourage Nebraska residents to enroll in the WellPower Movement, a free program organized by the nonprofit Nebraska Sports Council. The program offers an activity tracker, group challenges and other features to help people exercise.

Dr. Gary Anthone, the state’s chief medical officer, said roughly one-third of Nebraska’s adult population is considered overweight, a 7% increase over the past seven years. He said only 15 other states have higher obesity rates, and obesity is a risk factor for experiencing more severe coronavirus symptoms and ending up hospitalized.

Dave Mlnarik, the Nebraska Sports Council’s executive director, said the program this year will offer virtual badges for completing fitness challenges.

Nebraska’s first lady, Susanne Shore, said the program has helped her stay active. Ricketts said he routinely uses a stationary bike and logged around 5,000 miles and 17,000 minutes of activity last year.