By Tracy Courage, U of A System Division of Agriculture
Walk Across Arkansas is March 16 – May 10
Registration opens March 2 at uaex.edu/walk
Event focuses on minutes, not mileage
If your New Year’s fitness resolve has waned, you might need a new challenge to get back on track. Walk Across Arkansas can help.
For eight weeks, hundreds of Arkansans form teams and log the time they spend exercising. Events are organized each spring and fall by the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, with the goal of helping Arkansans lead healthier lives.
Last year, 524 people logged 798,340 minutes in the Fall 2019 Walk Across Arkansas. There were 104 participating teams across 37 counties. Many of those participants later reported they had more energy, slept better, controlled stress, strengthened their relationships, lost weight or inches, and improved their blood panels and blood pressure.
“Our data showed there was a significant difference in activity levels, so people were more active at the end of the program,” said Dr. Laura Balis, a University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture assistant professor of health and an extension specialist. “Mileage has been a focus in the past, but now we are trying to shift the focus to participants increasing their physical activity by meeting their personal exercise goals.”
Too few Americans get the recommended amount of physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced its Active People Health Nation initiative with a goal of 27 million more active people by 2027.
Research recommends that adults exercise for at least 150 minutes per week and youth get 60 minutes of exercise daily. Physical activity can lower the risk of early death, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some cancers, according to the CDC. Exercise also helps with weight loss, reduces depression, improves energy.
“Walking is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to get fit,” said Addie Wilson, program associate for health. “Adding in even small amounts of exercise to your daily routine can have positive results that can improve health.”
Participation is simple. Grab a few friends to form a team and register at www.uaex.edu/walk.
Then, from March 16 to May 10, record the amount of time you spend walking or getting any other form of exercise.
“We encourage and count all types of physical activity that get the heart rate up,” Balis said.
A little team competition can keep members motivated and accountable for doing what they say they’ll do.
“Everyone is working toward the same goal of more physical activity,” Wilson said. “Having support and encouragement from friends can really make a difference.”
Minutes can be logged online, or you can contact your local county extension agent for forms. For more information about Walk Across Arkansas, visituaex.edu/walk or contact your county extension agent.