Extension Program Helps You Get Active
There’s no question that, as we age, things change—and not always for the better. As we age, our muscles diminish, making us weaker; our heart rate slows, causing us to lose energy; and our brains shrink and fill up with plaque deposits, resulting in memory loss. But, there is hope. Research studies increasingly reveal that physical activity is paramount to minimizing and even reversing, the effects of aging.
And, the reverse is true, too. Sedentary lifestyles can speed up the aging process. Studies even report that sitting is just as bad for one’s health as smoking. The same studies show that it doesn't matter how active you are, if you sit for more than an hour at a time, you are jeopardizing your health and affecting your longevity.
This is not good news for our society because we sit - a lot. But our bodies aren't designed for sitting. They're designed for standing and moving. Yet over 90% of our activities (working, driving, technology, eating, watching television) encourage us to sit for hours on end, and most of us spend about 80% of our waking hours sitting. The body will adjust itself to support whatever activity you perform the most, and if 80% of our activities are sedentary then the body will conform to that position. And when the body's mass is being supported by a chair instead of being challenged by gravity, it will lose flexibility and strength, and this, of course, leads to physical ailments and disease because we just simply weren't designed to be sedentary.
If you're looking for that force to get you going, consider joining the Walk KS program. This is an 8-week program that challenges you to move more, sit less and make better nutrition choices.
How does it work?
Gather 6 people (including yourself) who will motivate and encourage each other and decide who will serve as captain. Anyone from anywhere (not just Johnson County folks) can participate; friends, family, children, neighbors, co-workers, out-of-town relatives. Once you have your team, you'll need to pick a team name and choose one of the three Walk KS challenges:
- Challenge 1 - 8 Wonders
Each person reaches the minimum goal for physical activity -- 150 minutes per week. Collectively, the team would walk 435 miles as they discover the 8 Wonders of Kansas!
- Challenge 2 - Cross Country
A winding trail from Troy to Elkhart, requiring each person to log 4 hours per week, traveling 764 miles total.
- Challenge 3 - Little Balkans to Nicodemus
Walk the SE part of the state known as the Little Balkans and then wind up and around to Nicodemus. This team will go 1200 miles and require each person to log 6 hours per week.
Don’t have 6 people you feel comfortable asking? No worries! The Extension Office can help create a team for you. And since everything is done virtually, you don’t have to worry about breaking social distancing protocols.
Now the team wouldn't actually “WALK” across or around the state. The way it works is each 15 minutes spent participating in physical activity translates in this program to 1 mile. Walking isn’t the only activity that counts. Biking, swimming and even gardening or housework count as physical activity. Each member of the team keeps track of the minutes they spend being physically active then reports it online under their team name. In addition to recording their physical activity, participants will also record their daily fruit and vegetable servings. On the website, you’ll be able to see each team’s progress and fruit and vegetable intakes. This usually inspires some healthy competition amongst the different teams all over the county.
To register your team, and for more information about Walk KS, visit the Johnson County Extension page at www.johnson.ksu.edu and find the Walk KS link under the Health and Food Safety page. The cost to participate is only $10/person, and participants can also purchase t-shirts to inspire team spirit. In addition, participants will also receive a weekly e-newsletter with physical activity and health tips as well as free access to the following virtual programs:
- Tuesday, April 6th @ 6-7 PM: How to Develop Healthy Habits
- Thursday, April 15th @ 6-8 PM: The MIND Diet
- Tuesday, April 20th @ 6-7 PM: Sleep—Want It, Need It, Get It
- Wednesday, April 28th @ 6-8 PM: Food After 50
- Thursday, May 6th @ 6-8 PM: Pulses—The World’s Most Nutritious Food
- Wednesday, May 12th @ 6-8 PM: Healthy Cooking in Your Multicooker Pot
The program officially starts March 28th, so hurry to your chair and computer to register once you've gathered your team. Just make sure you stand up afterward.