It\u2019s hard to believe it\u2019s been five years since West Virginia\u2019s sesquicentennial celebrating 150 years. On Wednesday, the Mountain State reached the ripe old age of 155.\r\nSince 2013, there have been some positive advancements in Almost Heaven. For instance, the smoking rate for adults declined from 28.6 percent in 2011 to 24.8 percent in 2016. Health officials believe this is evidence that teens who have never picked up a cigarette are now making an impact on smoking rates as adults.\r\nThat\u2019s great news, because West Virginia typically has one of the highest smoking rates in the entire country. It illustrates that work being done by the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free West Virginia and the Raze program aimed at youth is having a positive impact.\r\nBut we also know there is more to do in addition to getting the smoking rate down to at least the national rate of about 15 percent, if not lower. How great would that be, to be below average in that category?\r\nWhile we\u2019re at it, we at Monongalia County Health Department also would like to talk about ways to help state residents make healthier choices.\r\nOur health statistics tend to set West Virginia apart from other states. Here are some courtesy of the West Virginia Health and Human Resource\u2019s Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Fast Fact web page, which quotes stats from 2015:\r\nWest Virginia has the highest prevalence in the nation of adults reporting fair or poor health \u2014 25.9 percent.\r\nThe prevalence of obesity in West Virginia is 35.6 percent, the fourth-highest in the nation.\r\nMore than two-thirds, or 71.1 percent, of West Virginians are either overweight or obese.\r\nMore than one in three West Virginia adults \u2014 36.2 percent \u2014 have arthritis. This ranks West Virginia highest in the nation.\r\nMore than half of West Virginians with arthritis \u2014 55.1 percent \u2014 report being limited because of the condition, ranking the state sixth in the nation. More than a third \u2014 38.9 percent \u2014 report that arthritis affected their work; about a quarter, or 25.2 percent, said it affects social activities.\r\nMore than one in seven West Virginia adults \u2014 14.7 percent \u2014 has diabetes, ranking West Virginia second in the nation.\r\n\r\nThe statistics are staggering and sobering, especially for this time of year.\r\nSummer has started, and people want to celebrate the establishment not only of our state but also our nation, as well as bask in the sun. Which is great \u2014 if you do it in moderation. Avoid rays from late morning to mid-afternoon and wear sunscreen that offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.\r\nThere are so many great activities available during summer whether you just want to maintain your current fitness level or if you want to make some healthy changes. You can swim, kayak or ride your bicycle for exercise. You can walk on the rail-trail and shop at the farmers market for fresh fruits and vegetables. Or better yet, you can walk on the rail-trail to the farmers market.\r\nExercise and eating right can help change those statistics. So can the West Virginia Tobacco Quitline \u2014 1-800-QUIT-NOW, if you want to stop smoking. Getting regular checkups and cancer screenings are also important.\r\nUnlike the state of West Virginia, we\u2019re not going to live to be 155. But if we make healthy changes, we can go from being at the bottom of the state rankings for average life expectancy \u2014 at around 75.4 years old, not even half of 155 \u2014 to the top of the list at 81.3.