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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Sullivan: Walking your way to health

  • I think that February might be my favorite month of the year. It’s not because of Valentine’s Day, (though I hope I get dark chocolate) or because it’s a short month, (though that’s not a bad reason either). February usually fills me with the hope that winter is coming to an end and spring is just around the corner!


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  • I think that February might be my favorite month of the year. It’s not because of Valentine’s Day, (though I hope I get dark chocolate) or because it’s a short month, (though that’s not a bad reason either). February usually fills me with the hope that winter is coming to an end and spring is just around the corner!
    This year, however, I find myself wondering when winter is REALLY going to get here and how severe it will be! Whether or not we trust a furry creature’s predictions, I do think that this is a good time to start thinking about coming out of hibernation ourselves and ‘stepping up’ our physical activity habits. It’s a good time to think about participating in Walk Kansas, the annual health and fitness initiative from K-State Research & Extension.
    Over its 10-year history, the Walk Kansas program has grown to more than 22,000 participants, reports state coordinator, Sharolyn Jackson, K-State Research & Extension northeast area specialist in family and consumer sciences. Each year, Walk Kansas participants form teams of six to achieve an agreed upon physical activity goal. Teams may choose either Challenge 1, which accumulates 423 miles, the equivalent of walking across Kansas or Challenge 2, which accumulates 1,200 miles, which is the equivalent of the perimeter of the state. 
    Walking is not the only activity that can be counted for Walk Kansas. Because reporting is counted in minutes, any type of moderate to vigorous physical activity can be counted. The reporting system uses a 15 minutes per-mile conversion factor to plot progress on the state map.
    The 423-mile goal is based upon the 2008 physical activity recommendations from the Department of Health & Human Services, which calls for a minimum of 2-1/2 hours (150 minutes) of heart-healthy aerobic exercise per week. If each team member would complete this goal, they will easily achieve Challenge 1. Last year, Challenge 2 was added for those that needed a bigger goal to reach and requires each team member to achieve six hours of physical activity per week. Research findings have discovered that any type of moderate to vigorous physical activity that is sustained for 10 minutes has health benefits. This means that walking or other types of exercise can be broken up to easily accommodate any busy schedule.
    New for this year’s program are bonus points for breaking up periods of extended sitting. New research is finding that prolonged sitting may also be a health risk. If you sit for more than one hour at a time at work, home, while driving or traveling – take a 1-2-minute break. Just standing for a few minutes every hour makes a difference.
    In keeping with the theme for Walk Kansas, Celebrate Healthy Living, participants are also asked to keep track of health-promoting fruits and vegetables in their meals each week. Incorporating healthy eating habits can be helpful in managing weight, hypertension and diabetes, as well as in preventing some cancers and reducing stress.
    Page 2 of 2 - The cost to participate in the program is $7, which covers registration and program materials including a weekly newsletter with nutrition and health tips and recipes, intermittent incentives, a kick-off program and a celebration event at the conclusion of the program. This year’s kick-off event is tentatively planned to be integrated with the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17. T-shirts, in either navy or fuchsia, are also available for an additional $8.
    More information about Walk Kansas is available by calling the Leavenworth County extension office at 913-364-5700 or by visiting our website: www.leavenworth.ksu.edu
    K State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K State campus, Manhattan.For more information, visit the Leavenworth County Extension Office at 613 Holiday Plaza, Lansing, KS 66043, call the office at 913-364-5700, or visit our website at:       www.leavenworth.ksu.edu
     

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