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​Laura Stephenson
Walk Acr​oss Tennessee Offers Fun Plus Health Benefits 
By Laura Stephenson, assistant dean, UT Extension

From Memphis to Mountain City and all through the state, Tennesseans are walking more with the help of UT Extension. The increasing prevalence of obesity and chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer, is a critical public health problem. Physical activity is very important in improving health and reducing the risk of obesity and chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer.

One of the most popular Extension-based physical activity programs offered to support healthy habits is Walk Across Tennessee. This team-based walking program is designed to encourage daily physical activity by participating in a virtual walk across the 440-mile long expanse of the state. Since UT Extension began the program in 1998, more than 65,000 residents in eighty-five counties have participated. 

Participation in the program increases each year. From 2007 to 2016, participants in Walk Across Tennessee programs logged more than 2 million miles. Collectively, citizens have walked across Tennessee more than 4,500 times during ten years and more than 450 times across Tennessee per year.
 
Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agents who facilitate the program share that participants have reported:
• Reduced stress
• Increased energy
• Improved sleep
• Reduced blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
• Improved blood glucose levels and A1C levels
• Lost weight
 
To strengthen and broaden the efforts to energize Tennesseans to be active, a new website has been developed for Walk Across Tennessee participants. The site includes information about the program, fitness and nutrition resources, a mileage calculator, and contact information. Visit the site at http://walkacrosstn.org/​ to join and get moving! Contact your local Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent for more information.