My friend, Brenda, recently called me. “Hey, do you want to participate in our Walk Across Texas team?” she asked. “But if you say yes, you have to do it!” Leave it to Brenda to try to stoke my competitive spirit and get me committed to a daily exercise routine!
So what is Walk Across Texas? Established in 1996, Walk Across Texas is a free eight-week program that was created to help the state’s citizens get into the habit of regular exercise. And since the program is web-based, you don’t actually have to be located in Texas to use the program.
This program has been developed in such a way that the materials can be used in companies, government offices, colleges, hospitals and schools. However, although the program encourages people to join a team in order to have that feeling of camaraderie, individual participants are welcome.
The goal, obviously, is to put in enough mileage in order to cross Texas. That’s a tall order, since Texas is 830 miles across; however, that goal becomes more achievable if you are part of an eight-person team since each person would need to average about 13 miles per week. And the good news is that you can achieve that mileage in other ways other than walking. For instance, you can do biking, running, conditioning exercises, dancing, home activities (cleaning or moving furniture), gardening (mowing, weeding, digging, raking leaves), home repair (carpentry, washing/waxing the car, painting), Pilates, sports, water activities (swimming and water jogging) and winter activities as well as work-related activities (farming, teaching physical education, custodial work, carpentry, etc). The Walk Across Texas website has a mileage equivalent calculator that allows you to plug in your weight, the number of hours you were active, and the activity in order to come up with the equivalent number of miles in walking as well as the number of calories burned.
So how well has it worked? Brenda, who has participated in four previous Walk Across Texas programs through her workplace, uses it as motivation to lose weight. She said she’s found that she’s benefitted from the program’s focus on encouraging exercise as the key to weight loss. The program also has caused her to change the way she exercises. “I have learned to incorporate more cardio, such as doing the elliptical and the treadmill, since it really helps to burn more calories,” she explained. “And I hold myself more accountable because I know if I do nothing on a day, I’m letting my team down.” Brenda counts a variety of exercises for her mileage count, including weight training, yoga, P90X, elliptical, treadmill and the Biggest Loser Video.
One of Brenda’s friends has taken part in six Walk Across Texas programs. The friend’s motivation also was to lose weight. The program has helped get into a daily routine of exercising thanks to its accountability aspect. “I hold myself more accountable because I know if I do nothing on a day, I’m letting my team down,” she said. She’s counted a variety of exercises as part of her program, including running, weight training, yoga, dancing, volleyball and yard work.
And the eight-week program seems to be making a difference in the long-term since both Brenda and her friend said they have continued to exercise at the same level as they were at when the program ends.
As a newcomer to the program, I have found the team aspect of Walk Across Texas to be really motivating, mostly because I know Brenda (who is our team leader) will give me a very hard time if I don’t consistently pull those sneakers on and get moving. And I appreciate that they have given me lots of options on how I get those miles. Thus far, I’ve scored miles thanks to walking the dogs, biking, raking leaves, and other gardening tasks. Sweet!
So if you need a program that gives you some structure to your exercise and want to pull a group of co-workers or friends together, try Walk Across Texas! You’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish and how far you’ll go!
Walk Across Texas. (2012). The Texas A&M University System AgriLife Extension.
Published On: March 20, 2012