Friday, November 21, 2014

McFARLAND: Walk Kansas marching back

By REBECCA McFARLAND, Reaching Out | 2/19/2014

More than half of all Kansans do not reach the minimum weekly goal for physical activity, and only 19 percent of Sunflower State residents eat enough fruits and vegetables each day. Chronic disease is responsible for more than 70 percent of health care expenditures in our state, but many chronic conditions can be prevented and controlled by healthful lifestyle behaviors.

K-State Research and Extension offers Walk Kansas, an eight-week physical activity program that uses a team-based approach to encourage participants to log 150 minutes of activity per week. Walk Kansas 2014 is set for March 17 through May 11. Teams of six members work toward compiling minutes of physical activity equivalent to walking the 423-mile distance between Kansas’ east to west borders. Knowing that team members are counting on each other to do their part can be an incentive for regular exercise. Members who log 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, five or more days a week, can reach that goal in eight weeks.

More than half of all Kansans do not reach the minimum weekly goal for physical activity, and only 19 percent of Sunflower State residents eat enough fruits and vegetables each day. Chronic disease is responsible for more than 70 percent of health care expenditures in our state, but many chronic conditions can be prevented and controlled by healthful lifestyle behaviors.

K-State Research and Extension offers Walk Kansas, an eight-week physical activity program that uses a team-based approach to encourage participants to log 150 minutes of activity per week. Walk Kansas 2014 is set for March 17 through May 11. Teams of six members work toward compiling minutes of physical activity equivalent to walking the 423-mile distance between Kansas’ east to west borders. Knowing that team members are counting on each other to do their part can be an incentive for regular exercise. Members who log 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, five or more days a week, can reach that goal in eight weeks.

Moderate physical activity is “walking, barely able to carry on a conversation, but not sing.” Vigorous activity is described as “struggling to say a few words before having to stop and catch your breath.”

Teams can choose from three challenges offered through the program. Challenge No. 1 is the distance across the state, and would require each member to reach the minimum guidelines of physical activity, 150 minutes per week. To reach Challenge No. 2, the team must go across the state and back, or five hours per week for each participant. Challenge No. 3 takes the team 1,200 miles around the perimeter of the state, a six-hour-per-week goal for each person.

In addition to the physical activity challenge, Walk Kansas also encourages participants to record daily fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as to take breaks from prolonged periods of sitting, and are eligible to earn bonus minutes for doing so.

Teams consist of family members, co-workers and friends, and they often walk during a break or lunch, or after supper. Many who participate in the program report weight loss, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, and better controlled diabetes.

If you are interested in forming a team and want more information about the program, you can visit our website at www.frontierdistrict.ksu.edu, our Facebook page, or call the Lyndon office at (785) 828-4438 or Ottawa office at (785) 229-3520. Captain and participant packets will be available soon from both offices, as well as posted on our website. Registration is $15 per team and members also can purchase Walk Kansas short- and long-sleeved shirts at a low cost. Also, a weekly newsletter is available for participants that includes healthful living tips and recipes.

Rebecca McFarland is the family and consumer sciences extension agent for Frontier Extension District No. 11, which serves Franklin County. For more information, call her at (785) 229-3520 or email rmcfarla@ksu.edu

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