By Allie Byrd
University of Georgia
Not just for walkersIn addition to walking, activities such as aerobics, biking and gardening could be logged, too. The time spent exercising was converted into virtual miles. Participants could then use the miles to plot their courses. From the mountains to the coast, they traveled online and learned interesting facts about counties along the way. The exercise logs gave participants concrete evidence of their accomplishments. 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 says. “I have lost 30 pounds 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.”
Motivating communitiesParticipants found ways to keep the whole community motivated, said Joann Milam, UGA Extension agent in Washington County. She wrote a weekly newspaper column about the program and participants in her county. “The program really motivated people and made them accountable if they got off track,” Milam says. “Even if people weren’t motivated at first, the program got them hooked.” Elaine Miller, who helped coordinate the program in Muscogee County, organized a kickoff event at 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.”
Session two coming upThe first session of Walk Georgia has ended. Registration for the next session will be August 24 through September 14. The fall program will run until November 1. To learn more, visit the Web site at www.walkgeorgia.org. For more information on this and other Extension programs, contact your local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or visit www.ugaextension.com.
(Allie Byrd is a writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)