The Douglas County UGA Extension Service wants to encourage residents of all ages to "move more and live more" through a 10-week community-oriented program to increase physical activity while committing to better health.

The program, called Walk Douglas, is part of the bigger statewide Walk Georgia program sponsored by the University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension Service, according to Susan Culpepper, director of the Douglas County Extension Service.

The program -- which runs Oct. 1 through Dec. 10 -- encourages individuals, organizations, schools, churches or other groups to sign up for the free program, which promotes better health through physical activity, and offers friendly competition as participants can "virtually" walk across -- and learn about -- Georgia.

"Walk Douglas is not just a walking program," said Culpepper. "There are currently 80 different activities to choose from. Participants will track their weekly physical activities online through the Walk Georgia website or app and the recorded activities are translated into 'walked' miles. As miles are accumulated, participants will be able to unlock fund facts and information about the counties as they navigate across the state's virtual map and 'walk' Georgia."

She said the site also provides recipes, fitness tips, resources and events.

"The program is not a one-size fits all," said Culpepper. "Participants can vary it as it meets their individual needs or the needs of the organization."

She said it is a great way to promote team building, support a healthier community and reduce stress as we enter into the hectic holiday season and is also an opportunity to incorporate it as part of a workplace wellness program."

Walk Georgia is not a new program, explained Culpepper. It began in 2008 as a way for the UGA Cooperative Extension Service to conduct an outreach program to educate the community about physical fitness.

Some businesses in Douglas County, including GreyStone Power and DeNyse Company, which set up a group last year, have embraced the fitness challenge Walk Douglas gives its employees.

Since Oct. 2015, 300 Douglas County residents have logged nearly 14,000 miles and spent 5,500 hours being active, according to Culpepper. She said some of the most popular activities include walking, housecleaning, hunting and gardening from the selection of over 60 kinds of physical activity.

Culpepper said that the increased physical activity by Walk Douglas participants has paid off in many ways.

One participant said, "I now exercise more and have time with my nephews to play. I also feel better and went down a pants and shirt size. I have less stress and depression."

Another team member said, "We had a lot of fun in our office -- competing with each other. Some of my guys lost 15 to 20 pounds. I'm pretty active anyway, but Walk Georgia definitely got me up and doing more."

For more information about Walk Georgia, visit www.walkgeorgia.org; for information specific to Walk Douglas, contact Susan Culpepper at slculpepper@uga.edu or visit https://tinyurl.com/walk-douglas.

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