Mar 15, 2024

WINKEL: Walk Kansas 2024

Posted Mar 15, 2024 6:00 PM
written by: Karissa Winkel - Cottonwood Extension District
written by: Karissa Winkel - Cottonwood Extension District

We all know that being active is good for health, and most of us know the benefits of movement. It supports immune function, strengthens bones and muscles, boosts mood, improves brain health, and the list goes on. However, the idea that time-consuming, strenuous workouts are necessary to reap these benefits is misleading. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym, pump iron, or belong to a fitness club. The truth is that moderate-intensity exercise for 30 minutes a day is sufficient to earn the benefits of physical activity.

One simple way to gauge moderate activity is called the “talk test.” If you can talk but not sing during exercise, this indicates that your heart rate is in the moderate zone. Since this is an individualized measurement, what is considered moderate for one person may be strenuous for another. One of my favorite ways to achieve moderate-intensity activity is walking because it is simple, affordable, and pace can be tailored to meet individual needs.

I may be biased, but I believe that walking is the most underrated form of physical activity. Before our world was modified for efficiency, walking was necessary for a majority of daily tasks. Now we can travel hundreds of miles in a few hours, order groceries online, and even work from home! While all of these things are incredibly convenient, we now have to be intentional about movement, and walking is a simple way to do this. In fact, there are lots of ways to sneak steps into your day!

Park in the back of the lot. Simply parking further away can help you increase daily movement. Choosing the stairs is another habit that will add up over time.

Utilize Zoom meetings. If you regularly attend virtual meetings or webinars, try marching in place or find a large room to walk around while you listen. Even better, if you have access to a treadmill, you can walk at a standing desk while working.

Take a lap after lunch. Walking during this time is a fantastic way to get active and refocus. Walking after a meal also decreases blood sugar, reduces cravings, and lowers stress.

Meet a friend to walk. Spending time with family and friends often involves eating out or meeting for coffee. Change up the scenery and meet at a local park or zoo for a social way to get active.

If you want a fun way to be intentional about movement, Walk Kansas may be the perfect opportunity this spring. This 8-week program encourages people to get moving by logging the number of steps or miles achieved each day. As a solo member or team, you can set a goal to walk across the state. Walk Kansas can help you make healthier nutrition choices, and you will learn techniques to reduce stress and sleep well. This year participants can also tune in for webinars about ‘The Science of Happiness,’ ‘Habit Shift - Making Tiny Habits Count,’ and foot care.

The program kicks off Sunday, March 31st, and runs until May 25th. Sign up as an individual or as a group up to six. Visit to register today!

Karissa Winkel is the Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at: 620-793-1910 or [email protected]. K-State Research & Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.