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. “The goal of the program is to promote and enhance physical wellness among our residents,” said Mia Wilchcombe of the UF/IFAS Extension Lake County. “The benefits to walking can result in significant health improvements, including reducing the risks of heart disease and some cancers, improving blood sugar levels and mood.”
Adults and children are welcome to participate, and residents are encouraged to make it a family event. Walkers can choose from three tracks—health, fitness and performance—depending on their health and fitness goals.
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.
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.
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 five members or individually. Upon registration you also will have the opportunity to purchase a Let’s Walk Florida shirt for an additional $10.
The Let’s Walk Florida Kickoff Celebration is June 25 from 6 – 7 pm located at the Lake County Extension Center in Tavares. 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.