Walk Kansas participants gathered to celebrate the end of another successful program last week. Recognition was given to individuals and teams for their success during the eight-week program.
Walk Kansas is an annual health and wellness program conducted by Kansas State Research and Extension. 298 participants on 50 teams in Bourbon County recorded their daily physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption. The program is designed to help people develop the healthy habits of regular physical activity and a more nutritious diet. The goal is that after the program is over, those actions will become a part of a healthy lifestyle.
This year, team members walked 38,496 miles during the program. 42 teams made the 423 miles it would take to travel across the state. Every 15 minutes of physical activity counted as a mile. Each participant was encouraged to get at least 150 minutes of activity each week. That is the recommendation established by the U.S. Health and Human Services in their 2008 Physical Guidelines for Americans. Participants ranged in age from ten-year-old Lanie Bohlken to Irene Herraro, age 86.
The team which recorded the most miles was Java Walkies with 2180 miles. Sandra Eisenbrandt was the team captain. High Steppers, with Irene Herraro as captain, recorded 2071 miles, and Five Women and One Man with Beverly Russell, captain, reported 1394 miles. Individually, Mary Moore, Irene Herraro and Thelma Quirin were top in miles walked during the program.
During the eight-week program, participants ate a total of 40, 949 cups of fruits and vegetables. The team, Heart n' Sole, Kelsey Bentley, captain, reported 1600 cups of fruits and vegetables. Other top teams were Fabulously Fit and Fed, Lorna Slater captain, and The Hoofers, Terri Williams captain. The individual who consumed the most fruits and vegetables was Mary Moore.
In an optional weight loss competition, sponsored by the Buck Run Community Center, Alice Maffett was the winner. Fort Scott Community College nursing staff and students took blood pressures at the start and end of the program with several individuals significantly lowering their blood pressure during the eight weeks.
The winner of a recumbent bike given by the Visioning a Healthier Bourbon County Health and Wellness Committee was Rose Gauthier. Ryan McDaniel received an iPod from WATCO of Pittsburg and Mercy Health for Life. Colleen Zellner was the winner of a Wii.
Friendly competition was evident at the celebration event. The real value of the program, however, was in the comments participants shared as to how the program had benefited them. Weight loss, smaller jean size, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and being able to stop taking medication, feeling better, having more energy, and improved sleep were some of the results shared. Many became more aware of their eating habits. Some commented on having fruit in the house for snacks instead of cookies and sweets and of including more fruits and vegetables with meals. Time shared with family and friends while exercising together was another reported benefit.
The real value of Walk Kansas is in helping people develop healthier habits they can continue for a lifetime. Participants are encouraged to continue logging their physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake throughout the year. Yearly log forms are available on the Bourbon County Extension website at www.bourbon.ksre.ksu.
2012 will mark the 10th year of the Walk Kansas program. Start date will be March 13 with special activities being planned.
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Bourbon County. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.