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Extension Office sponsoring Walk Georgia

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Registration is ongoing for a program geared toward exercise and good health.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office in McDonough is participating in the Walk Georgia program. The free, eight-week endeavor is sponsored by the university, and includes extension offices across the state. Registration for the program will conclude Sept. 8.

The program, which will be conducted from Sept. 5 through Oct. 30, is designed to increase physical activity, according to Susan Howington, coordinator for the McDonough Extension Office. She hopes to promote healthy eating and exercise, through this year's project.

Participants can use their computers to monitor the time they spend walking, running, swimming, or partaking in sports, according to Howington.

"[The program] converts your minutes into mileage, and it tells you how many miles you walked for [a given] week," Howington said. "It also tells you ... where you rank in Henry County."

Walk Georgia, the coordinator continued, also enables participants to engage in an educational experience. "It ... tells you about each county in the state, as you walk so many miles to get to that next county," said Howington. "So you're learning about your state, but at the same time, you're enjoying the exercise part of it."

She said it is important for people to focus on proper eating and exercise, before the holiday season arrives.

"Everybody needs to put their shoes on right now, and start exercising, so that we can get ready for the fall, when we start eating too much," she said. "We're trying to motivate everybody to start moving now, and we're hoping that when the holidays start coming, we'll still be moving and keeping that weight off."

Howington described Walk Georgia as a way to bring families together, to become healthier. Those interested, she said, can sign up at www.walkgeorgia.org, to participate as individuals, or in teams of four.

The coordinator anticipates this year's program in Henry will exceed the number of people who took part in Walk Georgia last year. Seventy-seven people registered for the 2009 event, said Howington. "We hope to have more than 100 this time," she added.

Howington led a team of extension office workers and volunteers, who distributed information about Walk Georgia to patrons of the Henry County Farmers Market at Heritage Park in McDonough. One of those volunteers was Elizabeth Bonner, who works with the Georgia Natural Resource Conservation Service. Bonner, who enjoys walking on a treadmill and riding her bicycle, said she is planning to participate in Walk Georgia.

"I actually got a brochure to take home, so I can sign up online," Bonner said. "I feel like it's very important for everybody to exercise on a daily basis."

Bonner added that Walk Georgia appears to be generating interest, from people with whom she interacted at the Farmers Market.

Frank Hancock, agriculture and natural resource agent for the extension service, is also planning to exercise as part of Walk Georgia. He said he has set a goal to log 50 miles' worth of activity, during the program.

He encouraged the public to register for Walk Georgia. "It's getting kicked off now, so if you haven't signed up, you need to sign up," said Hancock.

Lori Verity, of Jenkinsburg, received information about Walk Georgia from Howington, and immediately made plans to take part in the program. Verity said exercise is "very important" to her.

"I'm on a diet right now, and I've been walking," Verity said. "Now, I'll be able to keep track of it, and monitor myself. This will give me one more aspect that I'm missing -- somebody to keep track of me."

For more information, visit www.walkgeorgia.org, or call the Extension Office at (770) 288-8421.