By Cristin Ross
Walkers, start your walking.
Though the official kick off ceremonies were held Saturday, people interested in participating in the 2009 Walk Across Texas can still register their teams through Monday at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in the Courthouse Annex in Rusk.
Walk Across Texas is a program created by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in 1996 to help people establish the habit of regular physical activity. From border to border, individual walkers or teams can walk 830 miles across the state.
“Once the weather starts to warm up, walkers all across the state start forming into teams and breaking out the athletic shoes,” said Wendi Green, Extension Agent for Cherokee County. “The idea behind Walk Across Texas is to encourage more residents of the Lone Star State to start a program of regular exercise.”
Teams and individuals will log their physical activities — converted into miles — from Monday, March 16 to Monday, May 11. The goal is to cover the distance in miles from Port Arthur to El Paso, the longest distance across Texas. Each member of a team of eight would have to walk 13 miles a day for eight weeks to make the distance, according to the Extension Service’s Website, http://cherokee-tx.tamu.edu.
“At the courthouse annex building we have a Texas map and will be plotting each teams progress across the state,” Green said.
Teams and individuals walk — or run, dance, garden, swim or do any other form of exercise — for the eight-week period. Fifteen minutes of exercise counts as one mile. At the end of that time, each team’s or person’s total mileage is added up.
This year’s sponsors include the Texas AgriLife Extension Service; the Cherokee County Health Department; HOPE - Partners in Health; Texas National Bank; Austin Bank; Southern Cherokee Federal Credit Union; ABC Auto; Chapman Pharmacy; and Break N’ Bread.
Last year Cherokee County had 32 teams and 256 participants, up from 40 individuals in 2007. One woman credited Walk Across Texas with a good part of her 70-pound weight loss and one who walked in spite of having an artificial leg, and one individual even walked 600 miles during the eight week period.
In addition to winning prizes and garnering recognition, winning teams and individuals who participate in the Walk all get a couple of bonus benefits — an opportunity to take the first step toward a healthier future and the chance to have some fun along the way.
The Cherokee County Extension office will hold a wrap-up of the event at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at Nicholas Green Park Phase I in Jacksonville. Team and individual awards and other prizes will be presented.
To register yourself or a team, contact the Cherokee County Extension office at 903-683-5416.
Making up the miles
Use these tips to help add footsteps to your day.
• Park at the farthest end of the parking lot at work or when shopping.
• Take the stairs, instead of the elevator.
• Add a block to the route when walking the dog.
• Stroll around the room as you conduct conversations on the phone.
• Visit a local park and enjoy the nice spring weather.
• Walk down to the mailbox to get the mail or the day’s paper, instead of riding a four-wheeler or in the car.
• Park the car and walk from store to store when shopping downtown.
“Cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve heart function and muscle tone, as well as lower blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of stroke and risk of injury. Improving strength around the joints can help with degenerative joint disease. The benefits are multiple, not the least of which is the improved sense of well-being or happiness with the increased endorphin levels.”
— orthopaedic surgeon John Yocum, MD, www.webmd.com
Local AgriLife Extension Service kicks off annual walk to help promote fitness
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