Community Wellness Focus on New Walking Program
Let’s Walk Florida
Walking has many benefits—physical exercise, weight loss, stress relief, better sleep and more positive mood. A new University of Florida walking program adds another benefit: comradery.
Let’s Walk Florida is a 12-week program where community members team up to start a lifelong walking habit, said LaToya O’Neal, assistant professor of family, youth and community sciences in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“The overall goal of the program is to promote physical wellness among Floridians,” said O’Neal, who oversees the program. “Walking has many benefits, including reducing the risks of heart disease and some cancers, improving blood pressure, blood sugar levels and mood, to name a few.”
Adults and children are welcome to participate, if you can, try to make it a family event, O’Neal said. Walkers can choose from three tracks—health, fitness and performance—depending on their health and fitness goals. The program is structured to help participants reach their goals on their own time and at their own pace.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate- intensity aerobic physical activity each week. The guidelines recommend that children should be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Walking offers an accessible form of physical activity that doesn’t require pricey gym memberships or special equipment and can be done anytime and anywhere! Walking can be done in your neighborhood, at the mall or even your local grocery store.
Join the challenge
By joining the challenge, participants will receive weekly reminders to log the time they spend doing physical activity, and they can share their progress and get health tips through the program’s Facebook group or via email. In addition to online support led by UF/IFAS Extension family and consumer sciences agents, each 12-week session includes two face-to-face group meetings to kick off and end the program. Each week of the program will feature a new wellness tip or technique, such as what to eat pre- and post-workout, common exercise myths and choosing the right walking shoe.
Program registration is $10 per person and the first 50 people to register will receive a pedometer and water bottle. Participants can sign up as teams with 5 members or individually. Upon registration you also will have the opportunity to purchase a Let’s Walk Florida shirt for an additional $10.
Lake County Kick-off Celebration
Make sure to join us on June 25 from 6 pm to 7 pm for the Let’s Walk Florida Kickoff Celebration located at the Lake County Extension Center in Tavares. During the kickoff we will discuss how to log and report your hours, set personal goals, and how to count other forms of physical activity. We will start tracking minutes on June 30th and end on September 21st. The Celebrate Success Event will be held in October where prizes will be awarded to top teams and individuals. For more information and to register please visit LetsWalkFlorida.eventbrite.com or call the office at 352-343-4101.