In an effort to get Hoosiers more active, 25 counties hosted events in conjunction with October's Walk Across Indiana. In local activities, nearly 775 people walked 4,601 miles.
Purdue Extension partnered with the Indiana State Department of Health and the Governor's Council for Physical Fitness and Sports to sponsor the program. "We formed a great partnership with the State Department of Health," says Karen Zotz, director of Purdue Extension's Consumer and Family Sciences program. "It takes many groups working together, including those at the local level, to help combat the problem of obesity."
Counties were encouraged to organize their own events under the umbrella of the statewide program. Some set up official walks, while others combined activities with their Healthy People, Healthy Communities program, another Purdue Extension community health initiative.
Edie Sutton, Purdue Extension educator in St. Joseph County, worked with the county health department to organize a competition among staff in the city-county building. Employees of various departments were encouraged to walk around the block three times, the equivalent of one mile. The department with the most participants won a healthy snack break.
"We wanted people to see that a mile isn't that far, and it doesn't take that long to walk," Sutton says. "A lot of people saw us as they were walking by and asked what we were doing. Many picked up a pedometer and joined in."
Beth Switzer, Purdue Extension educator from Hendricks County, organized what she called a "no-walk walk." Residents were encouraged to walk within their neighborhoods or during regularly scheduled events, such as soccer games or band practice, and then log their steps onto the county's Web site.
"We didn't want to limit it to a certain place or time," Switzer says. "We wanted to show people that exercising is not impossible to do, and it doesn't have to be scheduled on the calendar."