The Mountain Times

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100 Miles in 100 Days walking challenge began Jan. 21

RUTLAND COUNTY-Hundreds of participants rose to the challenge of walking 100 miles in 100 days earlier this week. Although the program officially kicked off on Monday, there is plenty of time to catch up if new participants want to join. As long as you complete your 100 miles by the 100th day and document them, you are eligible for prizes!

This is the fourth annual challenge presented by WalkRutland which is a part of the larger Rutland Area Physical Activity Coalition (RAPAC). According to a recent release "last year, about 400 people participated, walking 31,785 miles with finishers averaging 3 pounds of weight lost.  This year, our goal is 500 participants with at least 85% completing the challenge. Families are encouraged to participate together. This will be the first year youth are invited to register and will be eligible for prizes." WalkRutland also offers guided walks in the region as a part of this program and information about walking for health.

Wendy Reese is the program director for WalkRutland and she has a background in fitness as a certified YMCA Walk Reebok Instructor, personal trainer, and yoga instructor. She is a firm believer that simply walking is a free and accessible way to improve health.

"Walking requires no gym membership or special equipment, we all know how to do it, it can be incorporated into bite sized pieces throughout the day. It's a great opportunity to spend some quality time with a friend, significant other, or children where communication can flow freely, uninterrupted by the daily tasks of life," she said. "As you start to walk more, you can feel a change in your endurance, perhaps see the pounds start to slip off, you feel more confident about trying new activities. Weight bearing activity means stronger bones, physical activity equals more muscles, increased metabolism and weight loss, mental health from clearing the mind and endorphin release, improved endurance and stamina, better sleep, decrease risks associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

According to the WalkRutland website, approximately 45% of adult Vermonters do not achieve the recommended amount of physical activity and 18% of all adults are not active at all. 73% of Vermont students do not exercise moderately five or more days per week, and they spend three or more hours per school day watching TV, playing video games or using the computer.

In addition, Rutland County is above the state average for death rate from heart disease and has the third lowest percentage of residents engaging in regular physical activity in the state. Wendy reminds walkers that "you have nothing to lose (it is free) and everything to gain (your health and prizes) by taking that first step. Joining the challenge provides something to be accountable, it has rewards for the finishers, and think about how great it will feel to tell everyone you know, 'I have already walked 100 miles this year and it's just May!'

The challenge, which began Jan. 21, ends April 30, 2013. Participants who mail in their qualifying final walking logs by May 7, 2013 will be eligible for prizes. These prizes will be distributed on Saturday, May 12, at Rutland's Depot Park  in conjunction with the Farmers Market.

For more information on the challenge, please visit www.walkrutland.com or call Wendy Reese, WalkRutland Coordinator, at: 802 775-4199.