A new program is working to get Bartholomew County adults walking.

Get Walkin’ is a 12-week program that aims to get local residents off their couches and onto their feet with a free, email-based walking program.

It will begin Sept. 7, offered by Purdue Extension of Bartholomew County and Purdue’s School of Nursing in Lafayette. Participants will receive pertinent information and messages of support designed to motivate them as they walk on their own time and schedule.

Emails will contain walking and health facts and tips, as well as direct them to websites with information walkers may find helpful.

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Walking is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to maintain an active lifestyle, said Harriet Armstrong, Purdue Extension’s health and human sciences educator.

Just slip on your favorite pair of walking shoes and take off at your own pace, then see and feel first-hand the benefits of doing so.

Walking can reduce health risks including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression, Armstrong said. Walking also can be done in a variety of settings, allowing people to get the benefits of exercise without a gym membership.

“Attending a fitness class is not always possible, but walking can be adapted to a person’s schedule,” she said.

Although participants can walk on their own, Armstrong strongly encourages them to engage with others.

“We know from research that people do better when they walk with buddies,” Armstrong said. “We will be encouraging people to walk together or in groups.”

Ashley Rash and Diane Doup of Columbus know just how helpful working together in exercise can be.

Rash has been a part of the Moms Offering Moms Support (MOMS) Club, a local walking group for mothers, since last July. Rash finds being part of the group beneficial for herself and her 11-month-old daughter, Sawyer, as they both have made friends through it.

Rash said she began walking after suffering from postpartum depression and had a hard time getting back into exercise. She found walking a gentle way to get started.

“I also really like walking with Sawyer just for her to really see me be active. It’s an important part of life,” Rash said.

Rash and her daughter often go on walks and stroller rides through Mill Race Park during the day with other moms and children from the MOMS Club or they make it a family affair in the evening with her husband Tyler around their neighborhood.

Doup, community outreach coordinator at Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, recently heard about Get Walkin’ and has already signed up.

She is also part of the new Sidekicks running group that began at the end of June. Sidekicks pairs special-needs teens and young adults as buddies to exercise together. Although Sidekicks is mainly a running program, some members are working their way up to running by walking, Doup said.

She chose to participate in Get Walkin’ to help Sidekicks and herself.

Doup said she loves that the program is a local initiative to motivate people to get out in the community while exercising.

The Center for Disease Control recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, including a brisk walk. It can be done in increments of 10 minutes or more, making it easier for adults with full schedules to slip it into their daily routine.

Once more local people get into the idea of walking, several organized opportunities are just around the bend.

The Sept. 24 Mill Race Marathon includes a 5K walk and Columbus Regional Hospital’s Healthy Communities is sponsoring walk-based events known as Walktober — conducted during October, national walking month — for the second year.

Some are well-known events such as the Alzheimer’s Walk and Buddy Walk while others will be lesser-known evening and lunchtime walk events, said Cheryl Wright of Reach Healthy Communities, also a Get Walkin’ participant.

Wright said she is looking forward to both of those walks and Get Walkin’, and hopes others will join in.

“It seems like a great way to get people motivated to walk throughout the fall,” she said.

Sign up for Get Walkin'

Bartholomew County adults can register for Get Walkin’ online at bit.ly/2a9FmrG.

While there are no classes to attend, Get Walkin’ participants will be asked to answer two brief surveys. Data gathered from the surveys will be sent to the Purdue School of Nursing to better judge the  program’s impact on lives.

For more information, contact Harriet Armstrong at 812-379-1665 or armstrh@purdue.edu.

Walktober events

Walk to End Alzheimer’s: Oct. 2 at Mill Race Park. Registration begins at noon, ceremony and walk begins at 1:15 p.m.

Walktober Kickoff at WellConnect: Oct. 3, from 9 to 10 a.m. White River Running will be available to answer questions and with shoes to try on. From 4 to 6 p.m., Dr. Travis Hubbuch will offer free gait analysis. Walktober Challenge sheets will be available anytime through the month at WellConnect, 237 Washington St.,  for a chance to win prizes.

Walk to School Day: Oct. 5

Buddy Walk – Columbus Area Down Syndrome Group: Registration begins at 10:30 a.m., walk begins at noon Oct. 8 at Donner Park.

Walk ‘n Wag: This dog walk/run will begin at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 13 at White River Running Co., 325 Fifth St.

Costume Walk/Run: Begins at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 27 at White River Running.

Walktober Wrap-up: From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 28 Dr. Brandon Gumbiner and the Fitted Foot will be at WellConnect to answer questions about walking form and finding the proper shoes.

More events will be added to the Healthy Communities Walktober calendar that comes out at the beginning of September. Find it at gohealthycolumbus.org or on Reach Healthy Communities on Facebook.

Ways to fit walking in daily activities

  • Park farther away from entrances at work, the grocery store or the mall.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Stand up and walk when talking on your cellphone.
  • Walk to colleague’s desk to ask a question instead of sending an email.
  • Take a walking break instead of a coffee break.
  • Walk the dog.
  • Make walking a family activity in the evenings.
  • Plan to walk when socializing with friends instead of getting a meal.
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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5645.