We all know that lack of physical inactivity is a serious nationwide problem. It is a public health concern because it is linked to unnecessary illness and premature death. Think about the following facts according to the Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General:

60 percent of Americans are not getting enough physical activity to receive health benefits from it. 25 percent of adult Americans report no physical activity in their leisure time. Regular physical activity can substantially reduce the risk of developing or dying from heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and high blood pressure. Regular physical activity can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance the ability to perform daily tasks.

This is all good information, but what would it take to get you to exercise on a regular basis? Let me offer a suggestion that would be fun and flexible! Come and walk across Texas with us! In 1996, Texas Cooperative Extension introduced a walking program called “Walk Across Texas” (WAT) to help establish a habit of physical activity. From border to border, you or your team, can walk 830 miles (representing the distance across the state), and watch your progress across the state on-line, or on a Texas road map (which we will post in the courthouse annex).

Most people start by walking as a member of a team of eight for eight weeks. Your team could be a group from work, church, or your favorite organization. However, you may choose to walk by yourself and not in a team or group. That’s ok, too! Regardless of whether you choose to start as a team in a group or by yourself, you can walk whenever and wherever you want. Team members do not have to walk together. Some prefer walking outside while others walk on a treadmill. You may even choose to bike, swim or dance across Texas by using mileage equivalents.

Erath County is indeed fortunate to have a collaboration of community partners working together to make WAT even more successful. The Childhood Wellness Initiative Committee is made up of community members, businesses, Harris Methodist Hospital - Erath County, TSU, local school districts, etc. to address the overall concerns of child wellness in Erath County. Part of the group effort is an annual “Fun Run” to be held Saturday, May 5 at the Stephenville City Park. This event will serve as the WAT Celebration Event. More details will be forthcoming, but this year’s event promises to be even bigger and better than ever!

I urge you to think about a wellness plan for your family, your company, your friends, etc. Your health is important - not only to you and your family, but to the community. So, dust off those walking shoes and join us! The kick-off date for Erath County WAT is February 26 and will continue for eight weeks. But it you wish to start earlier, go for it!

For more information about the WAT program, call Donna White at 965-1460 or visit the website: http://walkacrosstexas.tamu.edu. I look forward to hearing from you!