Walk this way: UF challenges people to make walking a lifelong habit

lets-walk-florida-logoThe University of Florida is encouraging people across the state to put their best foot forward to improve their health. A new UF program is promoting the many benefits of walking: physical exercise, weight loss, stress relief, better sleep, and a more positive mood.

Let’s Walk Florida is a 12-week program in which community members team up to start a lifelong walking habit, a news release states. 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, or performance—depending on their health and fitness goals.

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’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and consumer sciences agents, each 12-week session includes two face-to-face group meetings to kick off and end the program.

The Let’s Walk Florida Kickoff Celebration is scheduled from 6-7pm Tuesday, June 25, at the Lake County Extension Center, 1951 Woodlea Road, in Tavares. The Celebrate Success Event will be held in October, when prizes will be awarded to the top teams and individuals.

Program registration is $10 per person. Participants can sign up individually or in teams of five members. Upon registering, they also will have the opportunity to purchase a Let’s Walk Florida shirt for an additional $10.

“The goal of the program is to promote and enhance physical wellness among our residents,” Mia Wilchcombe, of UF/IFAS Lake County, says in the release. “The benefits to walking can result in significant health improvements, including reducing the risks of heart disease and some cancers, (and) improving blood sugar levels and mood.”

Adults are advised to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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 the neighborhood, at the mall, or even at the local grocery store.

For more information and to register, visit letswalkflorida.eventbrite.com or call the Extension Center office at 352.343.4101.

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