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Now Time to Register for K-State’s Walk Kansas

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Unseasonably warm weather invites outdoor activity, and that’s all the more reason to sign up for Walk Kansas, 2012, which, this year, begins March 18.

It’s easy, inexpensive, and lives up to its name, said Sharolyn Jackson, state coordinator for the K-State Research and Extension fitness offering.

The concept, covering the 423-mile distance across Kansas, encourages teams of six to log miles equivalent to the distance during the eight-week program, Jackson said.

The team concept is a motivating factor, and the camaraderie – knowing that others are counting on you — can make improving fitness seem less like a chore, she said.

Participants typically report improvements to health – examples include better able to manage stress, improved energy level, more restful sleep, lowering of blood pressure, and weight loss – early in the program.

Most also report increasing consumption of health-promoting fruits and vegetables, learning to be more aware of portion size, being more likely to plan and manage meals and snacks, and to try new low-calorie and fat recipes, Jackson said.

There’s no need to join a gym or drive to a special place; most past participants report walking in their neighborhood or near their worksite, said Jackson, who noted that the K-State program also is being selected to serve as many worksite wellness programs.

Registration for Walk Kansas is usually $10 or less, and includes program packets and weekly newsletters with health and fitness tips, recipes and motivational messages. Costs may vary slightly with county add-ons, such as a mid-program picnic or ending celebration. An optional T-shirt also is available.

Most who enroll in Walk Kansas are successful, said Jackson, who reported that more than 90 percent of the teams reporting mileage cover the distance. Others go back and forth, and that’s why a second challenge (walking 1200 miles around the perimeter of the state) has been added as an option to the program.

Not currently active? Start slow, and build on it, said Jackson, who suggested walking around the block or up the street to a familiar landmark. Note the time to complete the walk or reach the landmark, and compare it to the previous week or weeks to note improvement in time – and distance.

Walking at a heart-healthy rate allows some, but not much conversation, said Jackson, who also explained that exercising in 10-minute segments (or breaks) several times a day can build endurance and meet the recommended goal for adults of 30 minutes of physical activity five or more days a week or a total of 2-1/2 hours or 150 minutes.

Not a walker? Not a problem. Though introduced as a low-cost walk-your-way-to-fitness program, Walk Kansas has been expanded to include other forms of heart-healthy aerobic activities. Biking, swimming, and water aerobics are examples.

Don’t know others wanting to improve fitness to fill out a team? Ask the local K-State Research and Extension office to match you to a team looking to add members.

More information about Walk Kansas is available at each of Kansas’ 105 Extension offices and online:

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