Hinesville, Liberty County, Liberty County School System and Liberty Regional Medical Center are partnering with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension to encourage local residents to make physical activity a habit.
The Walk Georgia Wellness Program is a free, 12-week challenge in which, according to county program coordinator Lynn Bozeman, many activities can be counted as “miles” that are “virtually” walked across the state.
She explained that several years ago, the extension was looking for an issue that would make the program relevant to the state’s entire population. Wellness became that issue. The organization then created a program that could be delivered and monitored statewide. Walk Georgia was created as a means for local communities to promote physical activity and encourage residents to change their sedentary lifestyles, she said.
Bozeman said activities that can be counted toward “walking” miles include active stretching and aerobics, biking, canoeing and kayaking, dancing, gardening, heavy yard work, hunting, martial arts, swimming and walking. She said the program converts the time spent doing the activity into virtual miles, which allows the participant to “travel” across the state.
“A lot of people don’t like to walk, but they like to go hunting, swimming or do gardening,” Bozeman said. “That’s what I love about the program. It allows people to do the physical activities they enjoy and log the time spent doing these activities each week.”
As they travel, she said they learn important facts about each county “visited.”
“Walk Georgia has been around since 2008,” Bozeman said. “(State leaders) were looking at some data and realized Georgians needed some physical activity. Since then, about 30,000 people statewide have participated in the program ... I am confident that we’ll have at least 100 (signed up) by the end of the week.”
In addition to city and county employees, school employees and medical center employees, Bozeman knows some parents of 4-H students who are participating in the program. Hinesville public relations manager Krystal Hart said her office is using social media and other resources to encourage government employees to sign up. She added that they also are hoping to get Winn Army Community Hospital to partner with Hinesville.
Bozeman said registration for the fall session of Walk Georgia will continue through Oct. 9. Log activity for the fall session will continue until Nov. 23, she said.
Bozeman said Georgia residents interested in registering must have Internet access or be part of a team in which the team captain registers then updates the activities of each member of the team. To register, she said go to www.walkgeorgia.org and begin the registration process with an email address.
After choosing a user name and password then completing a list of registration questions, she said participants can enter information on a recent physical activity by going to the dropdown box, finding that activity then entering how long they spent doing it. The program automatically converts the time spent performing it into miles walked, she said.
“It’s a very user-friendly program,” she said. “Each county determines how it wants to recognize those who participate in the program. The biggest reward, though, is getting healthier.”