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College of Human Ecology

K-State fitness program set to start

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

MANHATTAN -- Moderate exercise - just 30 minutes most days - can improve general health, personal appearance, reduce stress and the risk heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, and aid weight management or loss.

Improving health and fitness need not be costly or even particularly time consuming, said Mike Bradshaw, Kansas State University Research and Extension health and safety specialist, who is preparing to launch Extension´s 2007 Walk Kansas Fitness Challenge March 11.

The eight-week fitness program attracted more than 20,000 participants last year, he said.

The program´s low cost, $5, makes it appealing. The team concept, with six team members logging miles to equal the distance across Kansas (423 miles, east to west), allows each team member to accomplish something most could not accomplish alone.

Bradshaw recommends a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and added that participants can typically improve health and fitness without ever leaving their own neighborhood.

"Knowing that team members are counting on you to participate is typically a motivator," he said. "Exercising with others also can add a social aspect while also improving health."

The program has been popular with family, friends and co-workers who make up a team. Extension offices also can match interested persons to a team needing a member or two, Bradshaw said.

Walk Kansas was introduced as a walking program and has since grown to include 15 minutes of comparable aerobic exercise. Bicycling, weight training, swimming, running or team sports such as basketball, volleyball, racquetball or soccer, can count as a mile.

Some counties also will log fruit and vegetable consumption and offer incentives for trying new fruits and vegetables, reducing sodium or adding whole grains to meals.

About 90 percent of Walk Kansas teams cover the distance across the state, he said.

Participants report benefits from physical activity such as an increase in energy, happier outlook, stress reduction, more restful sleep, lower blood pressure, and/or either a weight loss or easier time maintaining their weight.

Most of Kansas´ 105 counties are expected to participate in some way this year, Bradshaw said. For more information on registration and local program dates and events, contact a county or district K-State Research and Extension office.

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 in Manhattan.

Story by:
Nancy Peterson
K-State Research and Extension

This article was posted on Tuesday, February 20, 2007, and is filed under Family Studies & Human Services.