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Walk Kansas dates announced


K-State Research and Extension's Walk Kansas Program will begin March 18, 2012.

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 10 years ago, the challenge has grown to also include other exercise, such as swimming, biking, playing team sports and pushing a lawnmower.

Walk Kansas typically draws about 20,000 participants, with representatives from almost all of Kansas' 105 counties, said Jackson, who noted that the springtime 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, she said.

Many also lose weight, said Jackson, who added that 89 percent 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, she said.

The cost to participate, which usually is $10 or less, varies with Extension offices, and covers a weekly participant newsletter with health and physical activity tips, healthy eating recommendations, and recipes. Newsletters also highlight local community classes and activities such as group walks and encouraging messages.

More information is available at www.walkkansas.org and at local Extension offices throughout the state.

Don't know others who want to improve health? Ask the Extension office to match you to a team.

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