By Gina Aurand, DEA, Foods & Nutrition - River Valley Extension District
As I write this and hear the radio announcer warning me of yet another winter weather advisory being issued for the River Valley District it makes me wish longingly for sunny spring weather. It also makes it more difficult to think about physical activity. After all, cold, gray, snowy days really just make me want to stay home, make comfort foods like cinnamon rolls and chili for my family, and then snuggle up under a blanket and watch a good movie or two. Notice that nowhere in that did I say I long to get on my elliptical machine and put in a good hard thirty minute workout or pop in an Insanity DVD and work like crazy for an hour. Thank goodness it is time to sign up for Walk Kansas.
Many of you have probably participated in Walk Kansas before. Some of you may even be annual participants. For those of you who may be new to the program Walk Kansas is an Extension program designed to get more physical activity into your daily routine. The program does this in many ways. First, it does it by encouraging you to involve your friends or co-workers. Research shows that we are more likely to stick to physical activity if we are doing an activity we like and if we have friends or family to encourage us. Walk Kansas is a team activity. You find five other people and track your progress weekly. If walking is difficult for you don’t worry, you can still participate. Walk Kansas tracks physical activity, not just walking so if you do 20 minutes of weight lifting, use a resistance band, or participate in some other physically exerting exercise you can count that time also. The goal is to just be active. We would like to see you meeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans which is 2 and a half hours of moderate to vigorous intensity activity each week. If you have participated before, maybe this year you will set a higher goal or help encourage your team mates to strive for a higher team goal. Every week your team captain reports your team minutes to the Extension Office to help keep you on track to meeting your goal
The second way the program helps encourage you to increase your physical activity is to send you weekly newsletters throughout the program that brings you information about how physical activity helps you stay healthy and strong. These newsletters give nutrition advice, stress management ideas, and a healthy recipe.
This year a new element will be encouragement through social media. You can like the River Valley Walk Kansas Facebook page and the Kansas State University Walk Kansas page, For Twitter users follow GottaWalkKansas. You will get almost daily information and encouragement.
So grab five friends to help you welcome spring and get yourself back into the habit of daily physical activity. Team registration packets are available now from your local River Valley Extension District Office.