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K-State to Launch 'Walk with Ease' Program Statewide
Kansas Ag Connection - 08/10/2020

Kansas State University has received a green light to implement a program that will help feed the state's citizens' apparent interest in walking their way to good health.

Sharolyn Jackson, the northeast area family and consumer sciences specialist, said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment awarded K-State Research and Extension a grant to introduce the program, Walk with Ease, in the state's communities.

Intended as a six-week program, Walk with Ease is a national program developed by the Arthritis Foundation to encourage Americans to keep active and to improve overall health.

"For those with arthritis or who have issues with pain, walking is a way to help manage the pain," Jackson said. ""But it's also a program that can be applicable to anybody who just wants to be more active, particularly those who have been more sedentary."

Jackson is the coordinator of the statewide Walk Kansas program, which just completed its 20th year in early May. More than 7,000 Kansans participated in that eight-week program, which encourages teams of eight to accumulate miles equivalent to the distance across the state.

Walk with Ease is designed as a six-week program that can be adapted to the needs and abilities of participants because they can make their own walking plan, tailor exercises and walking times to their needs, and go at their own pace.

"Over six weeks, participants will work up to walking at least three times a week," Jackson said. "The idea is to start at a reasonable amount of time and at a reasonable pace so that they build up to 30 minutes or more of walking each day you walk."

In addition to encourage walking, Jackson said Walk with Ease provides three other components:

- Health information.

- Stretching and strengthening exercises.

- Motivational tips and tools.

Jackson said that K-State Research and Extension is providing statewide training to agents who are interested in offering Walk with Ease in their communities.

"Some extension agents are in partnership with their local health department to deliver Walk with Ease, or have plans to do that," she said.

For those who have participated in the past in Walk Kansas, Jackson said Walk with Ease can be a companion program. "This program is a little different from Walk Kansas," she notes. "Walk with Ease targets those that have arthritis and pain issues and encourages them to be more active in order to reduce pain."

Jackson said K-State Research and Extension agents should be trained by the time pandemic restrictions are lifted, when group classes can be held. The program is also being positioned to provide online instruction, she noted.

More information about Walk with Ease is available online from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

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