By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
K-State Research and Extension will host the weigh-out for its Community Meltdown Monday, and Seward County agent Kathy Bloom is looking to keep people in the spirit of exercise with the Walk Kansas program.
The local office will be participating in the eight-week challenge again this year. This is Bloom’s third year as an agent with Walk Kansas, but she said she has participated for many years.
She said having Walk Kansas begin as Community Meltdown ends gives people a little more motivation to keep working on healthy lifestyle changes.
“This fits in perfectly with that because not only does it encourage you to walk, but you have team members to help you encourage you to walk,” she said. “We also send weekly e-mails. That’s a little newsletter with health tips and recipes.”
Walk Kansas 2010 kicks off March 7. It is a team-based program, with teams of six people who agree to motivate and encourage each other on the journey.
“Track minutes of physical activity during the eight-week challenge,” Bloom said. “Shoot for two and a half hours of physical activity each week which is equal to 10 Walk Kansas miles. Report the minutes weekly to your captain who then reports to the Extension office.”
At the end of the eight weeks, teams will have worked out the equivalent of the journey of 423 miles across Kansas.
Bloom said she is looking for this year’s event to be a big success.
“We always hope to have bigger numbers just because they’re such great programs,” she said. “We are shooting for as many as we can get involved.”
And walking isn’t the only activity that counts, according to Bloom.
“The name is a little deceiving,” she said. “It’s Walk Kansas, but actually, any kind of physical activity qualifies. If you like to exercise, every 15 minutes equals one hour of walk time. We just challenge everyone to work out two and a half hours a week. That’s the goal.”
Those activities include everything from biking to line dancing, water aerobics and zumba, in addition to walking.
As in years past, prizes will be awarded to the team logging the most “miles” at the celebration at the conclusion of Walk Kansas.
“Everyone who finishes and comes to our Walk Kansas celebration gets a little prize,” Bloom said.
Prizes include a stepping stool, food containers, tote bags and vegetable peelers.
Bloom said with the weather warming up and people getting ready to get back outside and moving, it is the perfect time for Walk Kansas.
“It seems like spring motivates people to get physically active,” she said.
Bloom said the new exercise activities were added at last year’s Walk Kansas.
“We don’t go by the miles anymore,” she said. “We go by the minutes, but because a lot of people really like to count the miles, we keep doing that. We just convert miles to minutes. One mile equals 15 minutes.”
New to this year’s event is Walking Wednesdays. Participants may meet at noon each Wednesday at the Blue Bonnet Park tennis courts and walk as a group, with team members or other participants.
“When I was at the state convention, some other county was doing something like that,” Bloom said. “I thought that was a great idea and a good motivator even for myself – a good commitment to make that every week to do that.”
Registration is due Wednesday to the Seward County Extension office. For more information, go to www.walkkansas.org, call the office at 624-5604 or stop by 1081 Stadium Road in Liberal.