Physical activity improves health and now Ravalli County residents over age 18 can walk and win prizes.
This year, the Montana State University Extension Office in Hamilton has had the energy and efforts of four MSU nursing students based on the University of Montana campus. The students in a class called Population and Public Health worked with various community and different aspects of public health.
The first two students worked with MSU Extension Agent Katelyn Andersen to develop a map of Hamilton with seven walking routes of different lengths through beautiful neighborhoods.
The second set of students, Pamela Jennings and Chance Raver, elected to promote walking for a healthier community. They devised “Walk and Win” an incentive program to get community members moving.
The college students met with community members and previously established partnerships for collaboration.
“It was nice to see how easy it was to reach out,” Jennings said. “We went to a city council meeting and they were really receptive and wanted to promote our maps.”
“As long as it has to do with the community everyone was on board which was really cool,” Raver added. “It shows everyone that the community cares about everyone else’s health.”
The students said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a program called "Healthy People 20/20" with a list of goals and objectives.
“The top one is to improve health, fitness and quality of life through daily physical activity,” Jennings said. “The objective is reducing the percentage of adults that participate in no leisure time physical activity.”
Raver said the time commitment is “do-able.”
“It takes two and a half hours a week to meet the goals of physical activity,” he said. “We tell people that is the amount time it would take you to watch a movie. You can spread that out over a week and even if you do it 10 minutes at a time, that’s plenty.”
Jennings said, “Eighteen percent of our county has no leisure physical activity – that is higher than the national average.”
The students said that over age of 65, chronic diseases increase and that physical activity is a good preventative.
“Walking helps with balance, coordination and all of the routes are all level and very accessible to all age groups of the community,” Jennings said. “The map tells you the length of each route and how long it would take you to do it.”
Jennings said the community was really accepting and eager for the program.
“They were more enthused than I expected,” she said. “There is an anonymous donor that subsidized the cost of the prizes that were not fully donated. Some were completely donated, some we went in at half. The donor is catering the end of the program.”
The big prize is improved health but the prizes in the “Walk & Win!” program are Valley Bicycles and Ski - Giant Hybrid Bicycle ($435 value), Loyal to Local Bitterroot through the MSU Experiment Station in Corvallis - CSA Share, Fruits and Vegetables, weekly box for 20 weeks ($385 value), Bitterroot Aquatic Center - one seasons Pass ($120 value) and one monthly pass ($40 value), Iron Horse Athletic Club – one month pass, Ford’s Department Store - $50 towards a pair of running shoes, Wild About Pets - Dog Lovers goodie basket and Chapter One Book Store - assorted book basket.
You have free articles remaining.
These businesses have maps and program information.
The program is run by the honor system and participants register on line or visit the Extension Office to complete a brief questionnaire with name, email, address and phone number.
Andersen said listing age is optional but it helps them collect data about the impact of the program to determine if the incentive program works.
The questionnaire is quick to complete with brief questions like “How long did it take you to walk this route and did you see any improvement in time?” and “What day did you take this walk?” Walkers can give quick check marks for health benefits they have seen as a result of the walking program.
“If you started by walking this route in 30 minutes and now you’re down to 21 it means you’re gaining muscle mass, you’re getting some stamina and all the health benefits that go along with walking,” Andersen said. “These equal the ones the CDC have said ‘walking increases physical activity, helps you maintain a current weight, possible weight loss and improved balance.’”
Complete a form each time you complete a route. Every route you walk equals one entry for the prize drawing. Record it at msuestension.org/Ravalli/Walking/html or in person.
The routes pass through neighborhoods near Rocky Mountain Lab, the retirement community and hospital, parks, the Ravalli County Fairgrounds (with public restrooms) and more neighborhoods.
Jennings said that although the program is designed for adults the hope is for families to get moving together.
“Our hope is it will motivate people to go out and walk,” she said.
“It will also help them create those healthy habits,” Andersen said. “We made it for May and June to help them get into the habit of walking. I have a vision that everyone is going to be out walking soon.”
Andersen said sometimes people need a reason to get moving.
“Whether it is a scare and their health care provider tells them to get moving so it won’t happen again, or when they have a big ‘ah-ha’ moment usually someone they care about they see they need to make changes in their own life,” Andersen said. “Hopefully, these prizes will inspire people to just get moving and try. On the walking maps one of the routes is as little as 1.3 miles so it is something that wouldn’t take too long even if you haven’t walked before.”
Andersen said that the Extension Office is on their second set of 500 maps that have been distributed to community walkers.
“When I asked why they wanted the map, people said they just needed some new routes and explore parts of Hamilton than what they usually do,” she said.
The Walk & Win! program runs from May 1 to noon on June 29. Maps and fliers about the program are available at participating businesses, Hamilton Farmers Market sometime in May and the MSU Extension Office, 215 S. 4th Street, Ste G, Hamilton. Electronic maps of the routes are on Bike Walk Montana (bikewalkmontana.org) and the MSU Extension web site www.msuextension.org/ravalli/walking.html
The Bitterroot Public Library is partnering with MSU Extension and presenting “Walkabout Hamilton” 5:30 – 7 p.m. June 29. The evening walk is an exploration of River Park and ends with organic snacks and hard cider from Backroad Cider. RSVP at the library 406-363-1670.