For many in Kansas, participating in Walk Kansas, a Kansas State University Research and Extension health challenge, signals spring. The 2009 program will begin March 8 and continue to May 2.


For many in Kansas, participating in Walk Kansas, a Kansas State University Research and Extension health challenge, signals spring. The 2009 program will begin March 8 and continue to May 2.

During the eight-year history of the program, it has grown to more than 20,000 participants in Kansas. Each year, the participants form teams of six to log 423 miles, the equivalent of walking across Kansas.

This year, some adjustments and additions to the program are expected to keep it fresh and in line with changes in recommendations for health.

The goal in the past has been 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day. But, updated recommendations now calls for a total of two and one-half hours, 150 minutes, of heart-healthy aerobic exercise per week.

The change in the recommendations offers flexibility in scheduling activities. This includes your taking time off for strength training to build and tone muscles twice a week, which we’ll be encouraging this year.

Participants also are encouraged to tally health-promoting fruits, vegetables and, an optional option, of whole grains on their menu each week.

The focus of this eight-week program continues to be fitness and health. Incorporating healthy habits can be helpful in managing weight, hypertension and diabetes, as well as in preventing some cancers and reducing stress.

The cost to enroll is $7 to cover registration and program materials, which include a weekly newsletter with nutrition and health tips and recipes. T-shirts can be ordered for an additional cost. Registration deadline is Feb. 23. A kickoff is planned for March 9, and its celebration will be May 7.

More information about Walk Kansas will be on the Walk Kansas Web site: www.walkkansas.org. Or call the Harvey County K State Research and Extension Office at 284-6930.

Susan M. Jackson is the Harvey County Extension agent, family and consumer sciences and community development.