It’s been more than 20 years since the K-State Research and Extension office first challenged people to “Walk Kansas” by forming teams and logging the number of miles walked for eight weeks. At a celebration Wednesday for the 2022 program’s conclusion, Cottonwood District Extension Agent Donna Krug said the fitness challenge is still going strong.
“It started right around 2000,” said Krug. Several people have different-colored Walk Kansas T-shirts issued over the past two decades. They all say “Walk Kansas,” but some have additional slogans. This year’s theme was “Move Your Way.”
“What is your way of moving?” Krug asked those in attendance. “What is your favorite healthy exercise?” Answers included walking (alone or with dogs), biking, swimming, weightlifting, boxing, water aerobics, fitness training classes such as Tai Chi at recreation centers, gardening and doing yard work. A member of the Sunflower Polka Club said she enjoys dancing.
In Walk Kansas, 15 minutes of any physical activity can be logged as a mile of walking. “Move Your Way” is an apt theme, Krug said. “The best exercise for you is the one that you will do.”
The original Walk Kansas started with teams collectively walking 400 miles, the length of the state. Teams can be family, coworkers, friends, community organization members, neighbors, or part of a faith-based community. In more recent years there have been options for longer trails, all marked on an interactive map. There are also individual walkers now.
Other Walk Kansas T-shirt slogans over the years have included “Celebrate Healthy Living” and “A Fitness Challenge.”
Walk Kansas is not a competition, however. There are no prizes for most miles logged. Getting outdoors and moving, or enjoying some other daily activity, is good for mental and physical health, Krug said. Walk Kansas is an opportunity to get moving and learn some healthy habits.
In addition to physical activity, those who log their miles on the Walk Kansas website can keep track of the glasses of water they drink and the number of servings of fruits and vegetables they eat. Krug talked Wednesday about the importance of water, and how much an individual needs to drink each day. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. A good rule of thumb is to start with your weight in pounds and divide that by two. (From example, half of 120 pounds is 60.) The result is the number of ounces of water you should drink each day.
“Basically, 83% of our blood is water,” Krug said, explaining its importance. “It’s also found in our organs and our tissues. It really helps us regulate a lot of our body’s functions — so water is super important. It helps cushion your joints. It plays a major role in digesting food. It helps dissolve the nutrients that we need and all of those kinds of things.”