by Josie Krogh and Bridget Thompson
There’s no better way to shake off those mid-winter blues than to get outside and get moving, and University of Georgia Extension has just the thing to help motivate Georgians to get active and ready for spring.
UGA Extension will roll out a revamped version of Walk Georgia, a community physical activity program that’s already helped about 50,000 Georgians become more active. Starting Feb. 1, people can enroll in the improved Walk Georgia online program.
Previously, UGA Extension only offered Walk Georgia during 12-week sessions in the spring and fall, but a $1 million, three-year grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation has allowed for an expansion, making the program available anytime.
Additionally, the website underwent a renovation, which expanded the program’s online resources and made the website easier to use. Participants will still be able to use the website to create profiles and track their physical activity, but they also will be able to link the website to their social media accounts to share their physical activity goals, document progress and encourage other users.
“To me, the beauty of Walk Georgia is that it meets people where they are,” said Deborah Murray, associate dean for Extension and outreach in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “Because it’s a community-based program, there’s something in it for everyone."
The new website, which has been optimized for both desktop and mobile devices, will feature a blog with healthy recipes, wellness articles and information on Georgia State Parks. Along with a blog, Walk Georgia has Facebook (www.facebook.com/walkgeorgia), Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/walkga/), Twitter (twitter.com/walkga) and Instagram (instagram.com/walkgeorgia) accounts.
Georgia has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation. Walk Georgia’s goal is to combat obesity in a fun, community-building way, said program coordinator Maria Bowie. The program equips Georgians with the tools needed to be more physically active and the motivation they need to get started.
“The new Walk Georgia website can be used as a free worksite wellness program for any size business,” Bowie said. “Extension agents throughout the state plan community events and many partner with local organizations to provide participant incentives such as pedometers and T-shirts.”
Walk Georgia participants can form groups or join individually and informally compete against other groups and individuals in their communities or across the state. The program lets Georgians track their physical activity by logging each activity. The more than 70 activities included—from running and bowling to gardening and Zumba—then count toward miles.
Schools are encouraged to incorporate Walk Georgia into their curricula. The website provides math lesson plans for teachers, and students can compete against other classes within their schools.
UGA is a leading institution in fitness education, and was recently named a top 10 university for health and fitness learning by the College Factual website. Through the university-developed program, all Georgians have free access to fitness tracking and dozens of resources like strength training demonstrations, healthy recipes and lists of local fitness amenities.
For more information on Walk Georgia, see www.walkgeorgia.org