Community Wellness Focus of New Walking Program

Walking has many benefits—physical exercise, stress relief, fresh air. 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.”

Anyone can participate, 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.

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. 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. The program is currently available in Jefferson, Pasco and Lake Counties. All ages are welcome. Participants can sign up as teams or individually.

To sign up, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office:


Jefferson County

Julianne Shoup


Pasco County

Shari Bresin


Lake County

Mia Wilchcombe




The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.


Posted: June 11, 2019

Category: Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Jefferson County, Lake County, News, Pasco County, Walking

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