Athens, Ga. – Over 3,000 Georgians exercised their way across the state this spring. The miles were logged by participants in the Walk Georgia program, which challenged Georgians to engage in physical activity and log their progress. Registration for the fall program will be open through Sept. 14 and the program will run until Nov. 1.
Walk Georgia participants reported 550,803 miles of activity in the program’s debut session. State-wide, the program attracted 3,046 active participants, made up of both teams and individuals.
The goal of the program was to help increase physical activity in a way that involved the whole community. Participants formed teams with friends, families and co-workers and challenged each other to get fit. Charting a virtual course through the Georgia Mountains or down to the coast, participants traveled across Georgia by logging their activity online.
“Friends and family challenged each other and used the program as an anchor,” said Sidney Law, agricultural and natural resources agent and county coordinator for Washington County. “People who joined a team with their co-workers made it a group event and really increased their bond and morale.”
Participants found ways to keep the whole community motivated and involved. Joann Milam, program administrator for Sandersville, wrote a “Walk Georgia spotlight” for the local newspaper. Her column highlighted teams and individuals each week.
“The program really motivated people and made them accountable if they got off track,” Milam said. “Even if people weren’t motivated at first, the program got them hooked.”
In addition to walking, activities such as aerobics, biking and gardening could be logged as well. The time spent exercising was translated into miles online as members moved around the state virtually.
Washington County resident Mike Adams logged in hundreds of miles in the program and lost weight in the process.
“This walk across Georgia has motivated me to get back some things I have lost touch with, such as exercise,” Adams said. “I have lost 30 lbs. since the first of the year and more so since the walk started. I will miss this when it’s gone, but I plan to continue walking for the rest of the year and hopefully the rest of my life.”
Other participants credited Walk Georgia with giving them incentives to exercise every day, improving their health and encouraging them to be more active. Exercise logs gave participants concrete evidence of their accomplishments.
Elaine Miller, Walk Georgia liaison for Columbus, helped organize a kickoff event in the local park to get participants pumped up for the program.
“An elderly couple came in and signed up as a team together,” Miller said. “At the end of program ceremony, the woman said Walk Georgia is what it took to get her husband out of the house and moving. They are an exercising couple now, and had it not been for this program, they wouldn’t be.”
To read more about the program, see www.walkgeorgia.org.
To contact your local extension office, call 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or see www.ugaextension.com.