The decisions we make about our health, and the health of our children, depend on the options we have available. Physical inactivity, poor nutrition and tobacco use are three behaviors that contribute to 50 percent of premature death in Montana. When we have access to walk/bike options, we are more likely to decide to engage in physical activity.

Unfortunately, Gallatin County residents with the highest need for physical activity, have fewer options to move more and sit less. For example, residents in Four Corners are limited in how to safely and efficiently navigate our community without a motor vehicle. The community of Four Corners is separated by two large highways: Jackrabbit and Huffine. Crossing the highway on foot is dangerous and inconvenient to say the least. Many times, residents will avoid this danger by getting into their car just to cross the highway. Children, the elderly and disabled are surly limited in how they move around the area.

Most of our children are put in motor vehicles just to get to a friend’s house for play or to go to school. How did you get to school as a child? Could your grandmother safely cross Huffine Lane? What options are available for residents with visual or cognitive impairments to safely move about?

Walking is fun, feels good and is free. Physical activity improves mood, lubricates joints and helps us maintain a healthy weight. As Gallatin County continues to grow, walk/bike infrastructure should be prioritized, starting in communities that need it most. All of us should have options available to move more and sit less.

Jen MacFarlane