Taking the first steps toward improved fitness may be as easy as registering for the fall edition of Walk Across Arkansas, a program that rang up an estimated quarter million dollars in healthcare savings during its eight-week run in the spring.

Fall Walk Across Arkansas begins Sept. 29. Participants may register online at www.walk.uaex.edu or at the county extension office if they don’t have internet access.

More than 1,100 Arkansans took part in Walk Across Arkansas in the spring, recording more than 2.5 million minutes of exercise.

This year’s program includes a new option, brought by Laura Balis, the extension health specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Balis wants to better understand the effects of Walk Across Arkansas on increasing participants’ physical activity levels, as well as find ways to improve the program.

Walkers who want to contribute to improving Walk Across Arkansas can do so by agreeing to fill out evaluations after the event, in addition to logging their minutes.

“I’m excited to be involved with Walk Across Arkansas. I know this is a very popular program, and I’m looking forward to supporting agents in helping Arkansans meet their physical activity goals,” she said.

Participants will be asked to answer two post-program evaluation questions, and answer a follow-up program evaluation question six months after the program ends. The post-program and six-month follow-up evaluation questions will be sent via email, or via mail if the walker doesn’t provide an email address. For details, contact the county Cooperative Extension Service office.

Everyone is invited to be part of Walk Across Arkansas, even if they opt out of the evaluation.

Participants can walk on their own or form a team of three to eight members.

“Having a team helps provide a little friendly competition, not to mention the encouragement you get from teammates who want to help each other succeed,” said Addie Wilson, extension program associate, health for the Division of Agriculture. “And it’s a great way to get in some quality time with your friends.”

Youth participants are also invited and have teams up to 20 members.

To learn about Extension programs in the state, visit the local office or www.uaex.edu.

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