By Jason A. Smith
Registration will begin Monday, in Henry County, for a free program designed to encourage exercise, and physical fitness.
The endeavor, called Walk Georgia, is a statewide physical fitness effort, which incorporates technology into exercise regimens, and is in its third year in Henry.
The local Walk Georgia program is sponsored by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office in McDonough, at 97 Lake Dow Road. Registration for the effort will begin Monday, and extend through March 9, at www.walkgeorgia.org.
"Our goal is to get people in the community, to get out and get moving," said Extension Coordinator Susan Howington. "They can do their favorite exercise, whatever it is -- whether it's walking, swimming, dancing, working in their garden, or cleaning their house."
The program is scheduled to be held March 6 through April 30. Howington said the eight-week effort enables participants, either as individuals, or in teams of four, to keep track of their daily exercise activities via the Walk Georgia web site.
She added that young people, in particular, can reap the benefits of Walk Georgia in a society that is not as mobile as it used to be.
"We do have problems with our youth that are playing more video games, and are not getting exercise like they should be," she said. "Georgia is one of the top states for obesity, especially in our youth," she said. "So, it's important that we get them exercising."
Participants, Howington said, can exercise for a certain number of minutes per day, then log the nature and length of their activity into the Walk Georgia web site. The information will then be converted to mileage, she added.
Howington said the program has been successful in Henry since its inception. A total of 121 people took part in Henry's Walk Georgia program in 2010, according to the coordinator.
"Ever since we started, there have been some of the same folks still walking with us, but we add new people each time," Howington said. "We've had folks from different departments in the county, that have participated in Walk Georgia, and have lost weight because of Walk Georgia."
Howington is hopeful that participants will be motivated to incorporate exercise into their daily lives, even after the program ends.
Melissa Souther has worked, since December, as a family and consumer sciences program assistant at the Extension Office, and is participating in Walk Georgia for the first time this year. She said the program encompasses a wide variety of activities, one of which she has begun doing herself.
"It can be anything from walking your dog, Frisbee throwing, aerobics classes, Pilates ... even just going out on your lunch break, and walking with co-workers," said Souther. "I took a brochure home to my husband, and he and I, within the last week, have been walking a mile every night. We're just being more aware of physical fitness."
For more information, call the Henry Extension, Office at (770) 288-8421, or visit www.walkgeorgia.org.