Getting fit and eating healthily can be really hard, says University of Arizona’s Track & Field Head Coach.
That’s why he’s encouraging people to participate in “Walk Across Arizona”, which officially kicked off on campus Monday.
"We hear you should choose to do exercise, but exercise is not always fun,” says Coach Fred Harvey. “We know what we have to do to push the body to be successful, and there’s nothing fun about that.”
Harvey encouraged the group of UA employees that came out for the “Captain’s Meeting” – an orientation meeting of sorts to encourage people to form teams - as part of “Walk Across Arizona”, a Cooperative Extension program, coordinated on campus by UA Life & Work Connections. Cooperative Extension and UA Life & Work Connections collaborate to sponsor the University program.
Harvey said he was happy to help kick off the program.
“To promote something like this, that has to to with health and wellness, if i can help get a message across, that’s great,” Harvey says.
He says Walk Across Arizona, or "WAAZ", lets people exercise in a fun way, with a competitive edge.
“If you’re playing football – you’re playing a game, if you’re playing basketball, you’re playing a game – it’s fun. To just go run, to get yourself fit to run a 10K, the things you have to do are difficult,” Harvey says.
“We like being challenged. By competing, you hold people accountable, and everyone likes to compete."
Coach Harvey was asked by UA Life & Work Connections (LWC), a unit of Human Resources, to speak at the kick-off meeting.
“Walk Across Arizona is an example of Life & Work Connection’s whole person approach to wellness,” said Cindy Davis, employee wellness and health promotion nutrition/fitness coach, UA Life & Work Connections.
“Our strength is in our integrative health and wellness services, along with systemic partnerships throughout the University,” Davis said.
"WAAZ" also fosters community-building.
“The community aspect is important,” Davis said. “Individuals can form teams and socialize with the UA community. It is an opportunity to interact with other departments.”
Anyone in Arizona, not just campus employees, can do Cooperative Extension’s 8-week “Walk Across Arizona” program.
Participants sign up to join a team of up to 10 people, and record their distance. Participants can run, swim, cycle, or other do physical activities, that “count” toward the goal of 410 miles – the distance across Arizona.
Paulette Pierce, who works for UA Department of Emergency Medicine, has been walking across Arizona for 5 years.
“We spend a lot of time together during the week, but we don’t get to really talk to each other, so we get to socialize. And a lot of us have lost weight, as well. We like the competition, we like to be fit, and we like to get together as a group,” Pierce says.
Pierce’s group walks together at lunch, and sometimes at other times of day, as well.
Her team, which has 10 people, has had the same 7 to 10 team members come back each year, and they’ve won twice, and they’ve come in second, twice.
“I think a lot of us haven’t been on any sort of team sport, or team activity for many, many years, and it’s just amazing when you realize every little step you take contributes to the team effort. And I know everybody likes that. I haven’t done anything that’s part of a team in years! I go to the gym, I walk by myself, I walk with family members, and there’s something about being part of a team,” Pierce says.
Cooperative Extension’s Associate Specialist Kay Hongu, who leads the state program, agrees, and says there is science to back it up.
“The theoretical basis for the program is to use social support networks to increase physical activity levels within the community,” Hongu says. “The WAAZ program is an evidence-based, popular physical activity enhancement program that has been maintained under the Cooperative Extension for more than 17 years.”
If you’re a UA Employee, and would like to learn more about ‘Walk Across Arizona’, click here to check out UA Life & Work Connections website.
For more general information about Walk Across Arizona, in your area, or county – click here to head to the Walk Across Arizona website.