Walk Kansas helps promote health, fitness

What is Walk Kansas?

Walk Kansas is an 8-week walking/physical activity program that encourages co-workers, friends, neighbors, family members, and schoolmates to come together as a team. It runs March 15 through May 9. The ultimate goal is for health and fitness.

Participants form six-member teams with one person selected as a team captain. Each team, collectively, is challenged to walk/run/bike/swim, etc. 423 miles, the distance across Kansas. The goal is approximately 30 minutes a day or 1.75 miles for 5 days a week.

Teams will choose a name and a team captain who will turn in mileage via the phone or e-mail to K-State Research and Extension — Douglas County weekly.

This is an exceptional opportunity to promote health and fitness, and at the same time build unity and teamwork within the work place, your community or family. Getting people moving can have a significant impact on their health. The list of health benefits of regular physical activity are:

  • helps control weight
  • reduces the risk of dying prematurely
  • reduces the risk of dying from heart disease
  • reduces the risk of developing diabetes
  • improves blood sugar control for people with diabetes
  • reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure
  • helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure
  • reduces the risk of developing colon cancer
  • reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
  • helps build and maintain healthy muscles, bones, and joints
  • eases the symptoms of arthritis
  • helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling
  • promotes psychological well-being
  • improves sleeping
  • boosts immunity

Do we have to walk or can any form of physical activity count?

Other forms of exercise may be substituted or combined with the walking program. Walk Kansas will accept cycling, racquetball, running, swimming, rollerblading, aerobic exercise machines, aerobic exercises, weight training and team sports for the accumulation of miles to walk Kansas. Participants will be able to count every 15 minutes of the accepted activities as one mile of walking. This allows teams and individuals to personalize the program to meet their needs and satisfy the fitness goal of 423 miles.

Who can participate?

There are no limitations on who can participate. This program works effectively because anyone can do it. You can do the physical activity individually or as a group. You can do it anytime of the day and you do not have to go to a specific location. The friendly competition among and between teams makes it fun, motivational and inspirational.

How much does it cost?

The registration fee is $5 per individual or household plus $5 for each Walk Kansas T-shirt. The registration fee covers nine weekly newsletter mailings, a celebration event and incentives.

Registration is requested by March 1, however, we will accept registrations through March 14.

How do teams get registered for Walk Kansas?

It’s easy. Interested individuals can contact K-State Research and Extension — Douglas County by calling 843-7058, stopping by 2110 Harper St. near the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, or e-mailing skrumm@oznet.ksu.edu and asking for a Captain’s Packet.

The packet includes information about Walk Kansas and registration forms for each team member.

Is this the first year for Walk Kansas?

This K-State Research and Extension program was introduced in 40 counties last year. More than twice as many — 82 of Kansas’ 105 counties — have signed up to participate in 2003.

Many who participated in the inaugural Walk Kansas program reported that the encouragement — and camaraderie — of team members and friendly competition between teams was the nudge they needed to get moving.

They also report that once they realized exercising most days helped them look better, feel better, sleep better and have a happier outlook, they continued exercising regularly.

First-time participants also report that health and fitness tips and easy recipes in Walk Kansas newsletters helped them make healthy changes easily.

What if I don’t know others who want to make up a team?

Call anyway. Joining another team will provide an opportunity to meet new people who have similar interests.

— Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.