The Walk Across Texas program
Walk Across Texas is an eight-week statewide program of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service designed to help Texans establish the habit of regular physical activity. Teams and individuals work together to reach the goal of walking 832 miles — the distance between the farthest eastern and western points in Texas.
A study published recently in BMC Public Health, confirmed the effectiveness of the Walk Across Texas program, part of the Family and Community Health arm of AgriLife Extension, to increase and maintain physical activity over eight weeks, even among inactive or low-active participants.
Get moving: Walk Across Texas participation
In 2019, a total of 57,846 youth and adults participated in Walk Across Texas statewide. According to program data, this was a new record for participation in the 20-plus years of the program and represents more than 10,000 participants over the previous record year of 2017.
As an example of this participation, more than 100 Bexar County employees recently finished their second annual Walk Across Texas health and wellness program, celebrating its completion with a recognition event. The event kicked off in the exterior courtyard of the Bexar County courthouse complex in downtown San Antonio, with county employees fielding 24 teams committed to “walking across Texas.”
Collaborating with counties statewide
This past year, 128 Texas counties participated in the Walk Across Texas program.
“The Walk Across Texas initiative is one of the largest activities AgriLife Extension conducts in collaboration with Bexar County,” said Nelda Leyba Speller, director for the agency’s Bexar County office. “It’s an opportunity for people to work together for the common purpose of becoming more physically fit.”
Speller said AgriLife Extension works with the county to support and complement their employee health and wellness objectives through worksite wellness programs. She also noted a secondary goal of Walk Across Texas is to introduce county employees to the variety of educational programs offered by AgriLife Extension.
“We want participants to know we have a diverse number of programs for health and wellness, including general nutrition, living with diabetes, healthy cooking and much more,” she said. “We also want them to know about the many other programs and types of educational outreach available through AgriLife Extension.”
Bexar County participants recognized at commissioners court
Program participants and coordinators for the second annual event recently marked its conclusion with a recognition celebration at Bexar County Commissioners Court, located inside the Bexar County courthouse.
“The county commissioners and judge have always been very supportive of our efforts in Bexar County, including our collaboration with the county on the Walk Across Texas program,” Speller said.
Presenters at the recognition event included Angie Gutierrez, AgriLife Extension family and community health agent for Bexar County; Isabel Pruneda, AgriLife Extension Leadership Advisory Board president; Thomas Guevara, chief of staff for the Office of County Manager; County Tax Collector-Assessor Albert Uresti; and other AgriLife Extension health and wellness professionals.
During the presentation, the first-, second- and third-place teams were announced. The team taking first place was Sweaty and Fast Enough, which logged 3,085.62 miles. In second place was The Bexars team, which had 2,893.27 miles. Third place went to the All that Sass team, with 2,773.16 miles. Members of all three teams received gifts provided by AgriLife Extension, Jason’s Deli, Bolero Bowling, Wash Tub, Main Event and H-E-B.
Gutierrez, who was one of the principal event coordinators, noted all 24 teams collectively walked 30,988.8 miles.
“That was an impressive showing by everyone involved,” Gutierrez said. “It was a real commitment from these teams and their leaders. Walking is something almost anyone can do, and physical exercise is important to overall health and to help mitigate chronic health issues such as diabetes and heart disease.”
Pruneda congratulated all of the teams for their efforts and also noted the timeliness of the recognition celebration.
“This is a new year and a new decade,” she said. “A lot of people are still thinking about and trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions. And getting more exercise is usually one of the main resolutions they want to keep.”
Guevara added the Walk Across Texas program was a great opportunity for county employees to participate in a wellness activity.
“It’s also a great way for county employees to build camaraderie and to inspire healthy competition among themselves,” he said. “We’re glad to partner in such programs that supplement the variety of wellness programs already offered by the county.”
Uresti cited wellness programs such as Walk Across Texas and those offered through the county as “good for the county and good for the employee” as they help employees become healthier and can also have an impact on reducing health insurance premiums.