Q: When does Walk Kansas start this year?
A: Walk Kansas will run from March 9 through May 3. For those of you that have never been involved in Walk Kansas, let me share a little bit about the program. Walk Kansas is an inexpensive, eight-week, statewide health-promoting opportunity that encourages teams of six to compile miles equal to the distance across Kansas - 423 miles, east to west. The program is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County, in collaboration with the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP).
Since the program started in 2003, we have continually seen an increase in participation. Last year, Douglas County alone had 121 teams, including 718 individuals. The participating team members accumulated an average of 1.75 miles a day for five days a week. In addition, to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, participants strive to eat 25 servings per week per individual.
While this program is called Walk Kansas, other physical activities count as well. Fifteen minutes of approved aerobic exercise, such as bicycling, running, swimming, weight training, playing basketball, etc. can be counted as the equivalent of one mile.
Teams do not really need to walk or ride together, although they may if they want to. Participants can exercise at a time or place that's convenient for them or may want to walk with a friend or exercise buddy.
People who have participated in the program in recent years often will say they look better, feel better, have more energy, improved sleep habits, lower blood pressure, lose weight and notice a difference in how their clothes feel. Regular moderate physical activity also is known to reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, including colorectal and breast cancer.
A $5 registration fee for each individual or $10 for each household (family) covers program materials and weekly newsletters with food, nutrition and health tips and recipes. In addition, a "Healthy Eating for Life" series of cooking videos will be offered to participants via the Walk Kansas Web site. An optional "Walk Kansas" T-shirt - this year's color choices include lavender and gray - also can be purchased.
Q: How do I keep track of my miles? And report them?
A: Walkers receive a calendar-like log to track miles, which is turned in to a team captain and reported weekly on the Walk Kansas web site or to the Douglas County Extension Office. Progress of the Walk Kansas teams from across the state will be able to be viewed on the Walk Kansas Web site.
Q: How do teams sign up for Walk Kansas?
A: All you need to do is contact K-State Research & Extension in Douglas County at 785-843-7058, stop by at 2110 Harper Street, Lawrence (located on the Douglas County Fairgrounds), go online to our web site at www.oznet.ksu.edu/douglas or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a Captain's Packet. The packet includes information about Walk Kansas and registration forms for each team member.
Registration is requested by 1 p.m. on March 3. However, we will accept registrations through 1 p.m. on March 14.