State officials say one simple step would help improve the health of Nebraskans: walking.
State Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joann Schaefer, says no one should under-estimate the power of walking.
“There’s a big sense of beauty in walking, because it’s really simple,” according to Schaefer. “It doesn’t require any fancy equipment. It doesn’t require any fancy gym memberships. All you have to do is walk.”
The Walk This Way program is one of several programs available to state workers as part of the State of Nebraska’s wellness program. The program encourages participants to increase their physical activity. About 4,700 state employees participate in Walk This Way, 34% of those eligible. Half of those participating report they have more energy; a third report losing weight and reducing stress. Employees also report a reduction in cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
More than a thousand state workers and their spouses logged at least a million steps. Four hundred employees reached the two million step plateau with 200 logging three million steps and 100 logging four million or more. The average step count for Walk This Way participants is just over a million steps, which equates to nearly 300 miles.
Aaron Kurtzhals, an employee with the Department of Corrections, topped all state employees, logging more than 10 million steps. Kurtzhals says he lost 78 pounds. He says once he got started, he didn’t want to stop.
“I enjoy walking. It’s the lowest impact type of activity I can get,” Kurtzhals says. “Also, I have more energy for my children and my family.”
The Walk This Way program encourages state employees to walk at least 10,000 steps daily.
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman holds news conference on Walk This Way program [4:30]