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Special to The News-Courier
COLLEGE STATION—While COVID-19 presents challenges to maintaining an active lifestyle, physical activity can be done in and near the home, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.
“Even a small amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can help reduce blood pressure and anxiety symptoms,” said Michael Lopez, AgriLife Extension program specialist in family and community health, College Station.
“Given the health benefits of physical activity, we at AgriLife Extension continue to recommend being active as an important strategy for staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lopez said. “Based on available information, unless an individual is experiencing symptoms, there is no need to limit physical activity.
“Walking is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to be more active and reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke,” Lopez said. “For adults, AgriLife Extension offers two programs that allow you to participate in physical activity at any location in which you feel most comfortable, including in and around the home.”
He said both the agency’s Walk Across Texas! and Walk Though Texas History programs, available through the Howdy Health website, are free and may be started online at any time. The programs use a team-based approach to connect walkers with family, friends and colleagues, but virtually, to allow for adequate social distancing.
• Walk Across Texas! Adult: An eight-week program where teams track mileage to virtually walk across the state of Texas.
• Walk Through Texas History: A four-week program in which teams track steps to reach designated goals along a virtual historical path in Texas and learn about Texas heroes and history.
A study published in BMC Public Health confirmed the effectiveness of the Walk Across Texas! program to increase and maintain physical activity over the set time period, even among inactive or low-active participants.
“The programs are based on the number of steps or mileage people take. They can be implemented in any location that’s convenient,” Lopez said. “There are a number of equivalency activities you can do inside the home that can go toward the total count to reach your team’s goal.”
Additional resources to support participation, like recommended Step Counter and Mileage Tracking Apps, are available at https://walkacrosstexas.org/resources.
Janet Pollard, AgriLife Extension program coordinator – family and community health, College Station, said adults should be getting about 150 minutes of physical activity per week or roughly 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.
“Physical exercise has been associated with better immune functions and improved mental health,” Pollard said. “Walking is one of the outdoor activities that can be done easily, and people can keep an adequate social distance from one another.”