Stay Physically Active – Online Programs Can Help
While COVID-19 presents challenges to maintaining an active lifestyle, physical activity can be done in and near the home. Even a small amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can help reduce blood pressure and anxiety symptoms. We at AgriLife Extension continue to recommend being active as an important strategy for staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Walking is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to be more active and reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. For adults, AgriLife Extension offers two programs that allow you to participate in physical activity at any location in which you feel most comfortable, including in and around the home. Both of our agency’s Walk Across Texas! and Walk Though Texas History programs are free and may be started online at any time. The programs use a team-based approach to connect walkers with family, friends and colleagues, but virtually, to allow for adequate social distancing.
- Walk Across Texas! Adult: An eight-week program where teams track mileage to virtually walk across the state of Texas. See if your team can walk 832 miles!
- Walk Through Texas History: A four-week program in which teams track steps to reach designated goals along a virtual historical path in Texas and learn about Texas heroes and history. This is a new program where participants aim for 416 miles.
The programs are based on the number of steps or mileage people take. They can be implemented in any location that is convenient. There are a number of equivalency activities you can do inside the home that can go toward the total count to reach your team’s goal. Additional resources to support participation, like recommended Step Counter and Mileage Tracking Apps, are available at https://walkacrosstexas.org/resources.
As I teach in my diabetes series, all adults should be getting about 150 minutes of physical activity per week or roughly 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Physical exercise has been associated with better immune functions and improved mental health. Walking is one of the outdoor activities that can be done easily, and people can keep an adequate social distance from one another.
Do these programs sound intriguing? Check it out, recruit friends or family (just not face-to-face), and get started! They don’t even have to live in the same county! As always, let me know if you need assistance – 903-885-3443. Go to: https://howdyhealth.org/programs/ to find out more about each of these programs and to register. Again, this is absolutely free, but you will reap great benefits. And remember to wash, wash, wash your hands!
Spread the word, not the virus – Dr. Monty Dozier
Article by Johanna Hicks, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Family & Community Health Agent