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Ford County

Walk Kansas in Ford County

K-State Research and Extension's Walk Kansas Program will begin March 19, 2017. .Locally in Ford County, captain packets are available from the Ford County Extension Office. Registrations need to be returned by March 17. Participants may also register using an online system.

"The annual eight-week fitness challenge encourages teams of six to compile miles equivalent to walking the 423 miles across the state of Kansas," said Sharolyn Jackson, K-State Research and Extension state coordinator for the program.

Though introduced as a walking program over 15 years ago, the challenge has grown to include other exercise, such as swimming, biking, playing team sports and pushing a lawn mower. Participants report the number of minutes of activity which are then converted into miles, approximately 15 minutes represents one mile. Participants are also asked to report their vegetable and fruit consumption during the program.

Walk Kansas typically draws about 20,000 participants, with representatives from almost all of Kansas' 105 counties, said Jackson, who noted that the spring time challenge offers an incentive to get up, get outside and improve health.

Previous participants have reported benefits such as increased energy, greater muscle strength, a more optimistic outlook, improved stress management, more peaceful sleep, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Many also lose weight, said Jackson, who added 89% of the participants polled increased fruit and vegetable consumption during the program. Seventy-five percent of those polled expected to continue to eat health-promoting foods after the program ended.

The team approach is a motivating factor, and Walk Kansas has become popular with families, friends, neighbors and as worksite wellness activity. In previous years, Ford County had between 25-40 teams participate in the program. Several of these were through their worksites. Each team determines which of the three walking challenges they will set for their team goal. Challenge 1 is to cover the 423-mile distance across Kansas. If that doesn't seem far enough, fitness enthusiasts can sign up for Challenge 2, to walk 846 miles (across and back) or Challenge 3 to walk 1200 miles - the same distance as around the state's perimeter.

Individual registration fee for the eight-week program is $8, and includes registration, weekly newsletters with food, nutrition, health tips and recipes, drawings throughout the program and possibly an ending celebration of some sort. Newsletters also highlight local community classes and activities such as group walks and encouraging messages. Optional Walk Kansas t-shirts can be purchased for an additional fee. Colors for the shirts are Heather Sapphire, Gravel and as always Purple. For more information visit our Walk Kansas page or K-State Research and Extension's www.walkkansas.org. Register online at www.walkkansasonline.org.