A majority of Americans don’t reach their daily exercise goals, but a program called Walk Across Arkansas could be changing that for Arkansas residents.


Lisa Washburn, associate professor of health for the University of Arkansas Division System of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, said this is a great opportunity for everyone to exercise.


“Walk Across Arkansas is an eight-week program designed to help people increase their physical activity levels,” she says. “Teams of 2 to 10 people can participate and pool their minutes of exercise to compete against other teams in their county and across the state. There is also an individual registration option for those unable to gather a team.”


Teams can exercise together or separately, and there is a new rule regarding the youth teams.


“This year youth teams can have up to 20 participants,” said Washburn.


Walking isn’t the only way to get exercise minutes, despite what the program is named.


“Walk is in the program name, but folks can engage in a variety of exercise types – cycling, jogging, swimming, aerobics – and report their total minutes of exercise,” said Washburn.


This program is open to anyone who is interested according to Washburn.


“We encourage families, school groups, faith-based groups, and others to form a team to encourage each other to increase physical activity through the course of the 8-week program,” she said.


Why should groups join? There are many challenges in today’s world that prevent people of all ages from getting quality exercise time.


“Most Americans do not get enough the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Additionally, many youth don’t have adequate time for physical activity within the school day and may need an extra push to get the 60 minutes recommended each day,” said Washburn.


If you are already physically active Walk Across Arkansas can still be something of interest.


“People who are already active and looking for ways to help others live healthier lives can look to Walk Across Arkansas as an opportunity to encourage others in establishing a new, healthy exercise habit,” said Washburn.


Benefits range from overall better individual health to group support.


“Past program participants say they enjoyed the camaraderie shared with team members, in addition to a host of health benefits, like increased energy levels and better sleep. Some participants lose weight, but benefits of regular exercise extend far beyond the number on a scale. Regular exercise can reduce risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. And for those who already have chronic conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol, walking is often recommended as a way to improve health,” said Washburn.


Walk Across Arkansas is eight weeks long and begins on September 16. The course ends November 10, and all minutes of exercise need to be reported by November 19.


Registration is Sept. 4-12 and can be found at https://walk.uaex.edu.


Details: visit https://www.uaex.edu/health-living/health/.


— Jessica Wesson is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.