Breckenridge Texan

Walk Across Texas to begin Aug. 29
August 13
05:45 2017

There are 830 miles between Texas’ westernmost city of El Paso and the easternmost city of Orange, on the Louisiana border, and Stephens County residents will have the chance to make that trek, figuratively, beginning later this month.

The Walk Across Texas program will begin locally on Tuesday, Aug. 29, and continue through Tuesday, Oct. 17.

The free program was created by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in 1996 to help people be active and establish physical activity as a lifetime habit. To participate, local residents can form a team of up to eight people and attempt to walk a combined 830 miles in eight weeks. According to the WAT website, those who don’t want to join a team may register as individuals.

Last year, about 170 signed up initially, and about 40 people attended each of three events that were scheduled throughout the program. As of Friday, four teams are signed up for this year’s WAT program, but more are encouraged to participate.

“This year, our goal is to keep people more active in the program,” said Sumer Russell, the local Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent. “So, we’re focusing more on the groups. This is just a program to help people be aware of how much they should be exercising.”

The teams can be composed of family members, friends, coworkers, church members, even school students. Each team needs a captain and a name. Once teams are organized, the captains can go online to to register or they can pick up registration forms at the Stephens County Extension office on the second floor of the courthouse.

Beginning Aug. 29, members of the teams start walking and keeping track of how many miles they walk. Each week, the team members report their mileage to the captain, who logs it on the WAT website. At the end of eight weeks, the final totals are submitted.

If you don’t enjoy walking or don’t have the opportunity to walk every day, the WAT program has an option that converts other activities into “miles” so that the exercise can still be counted. The conversion involves the weight of the person, the specific activity they participated in and the amount of time they did the work. For example, a 180-pound person who mows the yard or does other general yard work for 15 minutes earns 1.38 miles. That same person earns a mile for a little more than 17 minutes worth of house cleaning or 13 and a half minutes of taking care of farm animals. The WAT website has a calculator on it to help participants figure out how many “miles” their non-walking activities are worth.

A new segment of the WAT program this year is the weekly “Walk and Talk” that will be offered at 10 a.m. every Tuesday in the Breckenridge City Park. During the 30-minute walk, Russell will discuss fruits and vegetables. Then, if possible, during the group’s cool-down time, she will provide a recipe and food demonstration. “Walk and Talk” is not mandatory, but it’s open to anyone who wants to come.

The pace of the walking part of the “Walk and Talk” will depend on the people who show up that day. “I’m going to be there to keep people motivated,” Russell said.

The first “Walk and Talk” will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, in the city park and will serve as the kickoff event for the program. The WAT will wrap up on Tuesday, Oct. 17, with prizes being awarded to the winning team.

For more information about Stephens County’s Walk Across Texas, contact Russell at 254-559-5513.


Story by Carla McKeown

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