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Helping Hoosiers Get on their Feet

Even though promotion of physical activity has been a public health priority for decades, key U.S. public health agencies, including CDC, routinely collect data indicating most Americans are not meeting physical activity guidelines. Physical inactivity is directly related to the prevalence of adult and childhood obesity. Participation in regular physical activity decreases the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, obesity, breast and colon cancers, and falls in older adults. In 2020, 69% of Indiana adults were considered overweight or obese and only approximately 21% self- reported meeting physical activity guidelines (CDC, 2022). Walking is an easy way to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle. Walking is accessible to almost anyone, does not require specific skills or abilities to perform, can be performed alone or with others, is adaptable (i.e., can be performed at any chosen intensity) and is inexpensive.

Purdue Extension provided education to adults about physical activity and ways to increase walking behaviors through Get WalkIN’. This program is a 12-week series of emails, with e-mail messages sent twice weekly for the first four weeks and then weekly for the next eight weeks. Topics covered include benefits of exercise, how to overcome barriers, principles of self-efficacy, social support, goal setting, walking locations, and relapse prevention. Via emails, Extension Educators help motivate participants to make simple changes to their daily routine that can improve physical activity and overall health and well-being. The program was presented 38 times during the year. Get WalkIN’ reached 729 adults across Indiana. Of those reporting, participants of the program were mainly female (92%), middle age (54.5 years), and White (92%).

At the beginning, 129 adults were categorized as insufficiently active, but at the end, this number dropped to three. Participants initially reported walking an average of 153 minutes per week, and this increased significantly to 243 minutes at the end. Adults reported an increase in self-efficacy for physical activity (average from 3.1 to 3.6 on a 5-point scale), and in social support (2.5 to 2.8). Participants indicated that intervention emails were both easy to read and to understand (average = 4.5 on a 5-point scale). They reported the frequency of emails was acceptable (4.4) and that receiving emails encouraged an increase in walking (4.1). Participants responded it was likely they would continue to use information learned from the program (4.3). Adults stated they always read the intervention emails (67%), or read the emails quite often (23%). As a result of Purdue Extension’s email[1]based Get WalkIN’ program, adults increased their walking and overall physical activity, contributing to reduced risk for obesity, coronary heart disease, and other diseases.

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