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The Collective for Health Equity and Well-Being

Cooperative Extension’s Collective for Health Equity and Well-Being is a community of Extension personnel and their partners united by their shared commitment to advancing health equity and well-being. Members work together to support the implementation of Cooperative Extension’s National Framework for Health Equity and Well-Being (2021) to ensure that all people can be as healthy as they can be.

The Demand for Online Physical Activity Resources Continues to Grow: How Walk Across Arkansas Impacts Both Rural and Urban Residents

 

“The Walk Across Arkansas program challenges me to keep up physical activities on a daily basis. It is also fun to cooperate as a team.” – Participant Quote

Background

The University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service oversees the eight-week, Walk Across Arkansas program. Walk Across Arkansas is designed to help participants increase physical activity levels over the course of the program.

31% of adults and 32% of youth in Arkansas are physically inactive. 787,000 Arkansans have two or more chronic diseases. It is known that regular physical activity is one of the most effective disease prevention behaviors.

Developed approximately 13 years ago, Walk Across Arkansas is based on the evidence-based Walk Kansas program and applies group dynamic strategies as well as individual goal setting and self-monitoring to facilitate behavior change. In 2021, Walk Across Arkansas underwent a large-scale update to allow the program to reach more audiences across the state.

Methods

County Extension Agents recruit participants in their counties by using provided promotional items that includes the following: Flyers, a news release, radio PSAs, social media assets and guides (See the photo for an example Social Media Promotion Piece). The Walk Across Arkansas participant process ideally looks like the following: A team captain is selected; The captain will register and create a team on the website (Individuals can create their own teams, but it is recommended to have a team size of 3-8 to encourage teamwork – maximum team size is 30 members); and team members enter minutes of physical activity each week. The Walk Across Arkansas curriculum includes eight weekly topics designed to encourage behavior change for participants. Weekly topics include the following:  

  1. Defining the purpose of participating in the program;
  2. What participants can contribute to their team;
  3. How to self-monitor;
  4. How to set S.M.A.R.T. goals;
  5. How to make small changes;
  6. How to solve problems;
  7. How to reward themselves;
  8. How to set future health goals.

Ultimately, any type of physical activity that increases heart rate, and cause a sweat is allowed!

Results

Participants are surveyed on the amount of physical activity they completed and the health benefits they gained from Walk Across Arkansas. Many participants, in open response, report increasing their physical activity levels, becoming more consistent with implementing physical activity, becoming better at setting attainable goals, and becoming more “mindful” about physical activity. Participants also reported the following as perceived health benefits: better sleep, improved energy, improved muscle mass, healthy eating habits, reduced blood pressure, better brain function, reduced feelings of anxiety and/or depression.

Conclusions

The Walk Across Arkansas curriculum improves on an established concept with a new approach to providing behavior change resources regarding physical activity to those who are physically inactive. Being physically active can prevent the development of chronic diseases and improve the overall well-being of individuals.

Acknowledgements

The curriculum was previously created by the University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture. The UADA Health Team manages the program. The Heath Team members include Dr. Bryan Mader and Heather Wingo. The UADA IT Team designs, codes, and maintains the Walk Across Arkansas website and database. The members of the IT Team include Dr. Karen DiCicco, Michael DiCicco, and Ryan Hood. Contact Dr. Bryan Mader via email at bmader@uada.edu or Heather Wingo at hwingo@uada.edu for more information.

Link to the Walk Across Arkansas website: https://walk.uada.edu/walk/
Link to the UADA Cooperative Extension Service website where winners are announced: https://www.uaex.uada.edu/life...across-arkansas.aspx


References

American Society for Quality. (2021). What is problem solving? Learn About Quality.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, November 1). Benefits of Physical Activity. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.

Estabrooks, P.A. et al. (2008). Determining the impact of Walk Kansas applying a team-building approach to community physical activity promotion. ResearchGate.

Lencioni, P. (n.d.). The Five Behaviors model for teams. Disc Profile.

Miller, W., & Knapp, T. (2019). Rural Profile of Arkansas 2019: Social and Economic Trends Affecting Rural Arkansas. University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture. https://www.uaex.uada.edu/publications/pdf/MP564.pdf

Noland, M. P. (1989). The effects of self-monitoring and reinforcement on exercise adherence. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 60(3), 216-224.

Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. (2020). Arkansas: Keeping education active: Partnership to fight chronic disease. Arkansas | Keeping Education ACTIVE | Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

Attachments

Images (1)
  • Example Promotion Picture for Walk Across Arkansas: This is a Promotion Graphic from the Fall 2022 session of Walk Across Arkansas that features a picture of an Arkansas Hiking Trail.

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This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit extension.org. You can view the terms of useat extension.org/terms.

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