Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Take steps to better health: Walk Kansas starts March 15

KANSAS CITY, KAN.  –  It’s as simple as putting one step in front of another. That’s the idea behind Walk Kansas, an eight-week K-State Research and Extension program that starts March 15, designed to promote activity and better health.

“The days are getting longer, and many of us are eager to get outside and be more physically active,” said Sharolyn Jackson, Walk Kansas coordinator with K-State Research and Extension. “Even Kansans who do not routinely walk or have other fitness routines find Walk Kansas to be an easy way to get moving.”

Groups of six people, one serving as a captain, work toward a common goal – typically to walk at least 150 minutes per person per week, which collectively is enough to walk 423 miles over the eight-week period.

Though the team does not actually walk across Kansas, 423 miles is the equivalent of the distance across the state. Registration is through K-State Research and Extension county or district offices. Most registration materials are also on the website

Teams that want a greater challenge can set a goal to walk the equivalent of across the state and back, 846 miles or around the perimeter of Kansas, 1,200 miles.

“The walking can be done individually or in groups, on a treadmill at home, in your neighborhood, or at a gym – whatever works for the individual,” Jackson said. “While walking is easy for most people, any activity can count as long as you do it at the intensity where you just barely carry on a conversation with someone, and you do it for at least 10 consecutive minutes. Log your minutes of activity each day, and report that number to the team captain each week. The website converts the time walked into miles.”

“Walking reduces stress, combats depression, improves heart health and helps fight off unwanted pounds – and you feel better almost immediately after getting some physical activity,” she said.

This year’s theme is “Walk Tall, Walk Strong, Walk Kansas,” she added, noting an emphasis on posture, strength training (which can count toward Walk Kansas minutes), and walking or any activity that promotes cardiovascular health.

Don’t have a team? Jackson recommends contacting your local K-State Research and Extension office and asking to be placed on a team.

This year marks the 14th year for Walk Kansas. With a cumulative total of 203,250 participants over the first 13 years, it is considered one of the most successful K-State Research and Extension programs in the state’s extension history.

“We have a lot of conveniences in our lives today,” Jackson said. Taking care of ourselves is a privilege. Investing in your personal health now pays off down the road, and being physically active is one of the most important steps we can take to improve our health.”