Archive for Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Living well

February 25, 2009

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

I really start to notice that there is more daylight when I leave work. Whether we trust that furry creature’s predictions, it is a good time to start thinking about coming out of hibernation and stepping up our physical activity habits. It’s a good time to think about participating in the K-State Research & Extension health and fitness initiative, Walk Kansas.

Over its eight-year history, the Walk Kansas program has grown to more than 20,000 participants, said Sharolyn Jackson, K-State Research & Extension northeast area specialist in family and consumer sciences. Each year, the participants form teams of six to log 423 miles, the equivalent of walking across Kansas. This year, she said, 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 the updated physical activity recommendations released by the Department of Health & Human Services last October now calls for a total of 2 1/2 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,” Jackson said.

Participants also are encouraged to keep track of health-promoting fruits, vegetables and 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,” Jackson said.

The cost to enroll in the program is $7, which covers registration and program materials. Participant materials include goal-setting and motivational resources, a weekly newsletter with nutrition and health tips and recipes, a kick-off program on March 7 and a celebration event at the conclusion of the program. T-shirts in either chocolate brown or kiwi green are also available for an additional $6.

More information about Walk Kansas is available by calling the Leavenworth County extension office at (913) 250-2300 or by visiting the Walk Kansas Web site: www.walkkansas.org.

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