Walk Across Arizona—Promoting Physical Fitness

Research Year: 
2010
Issue: 

Physical inactivity and poor dietary habits have been associated with increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. The Arizona Department of Health reports that obesity and overweight affect 60 percent of Arizona’s population. Nationwide, 18 million people have full-blown diabetes and another 41 million already have pre-diabetes. Almost 65 percent of adults are either overweight or obese and 20 to 30 percent of children are overweight or at risk for becoming overweight. In light of the links to adverse health outcomes and the continued increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, promoting daily physical activity has emerged as an important strategy for obesity and disease prevention efforts. Walking is a local, inexpensive and convenient way to develop fitness and healthy habits.

Description of Action: 

Physical inactivity and poor dietary habits have been associated with increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. The Arizona Department of Health reports that obesity and overweight affect 60 percent of Arizona’s population. Nationwide, 18 million people have full-blown diabetes and another 41 million already have pre-diabetes. Almost 65 percent of adults are either overweight or obese and 20 to 30 percent of children are overweight or at risk for becoming overweight. In light of the links to adverse health outcomes and the continued increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, promoting daily physical activity has emerged as an important strategy for obesity and disease prevention efforts. Walking is a local, inexpensive and convenient way to develop fitness and healthy habits.

Impact: 

•During 2001, the first year of the Walk Across Arizona campaign, 34 teams with 329 registered participants walked 48,872 miles. By 2010, the number of teams had expanded to 113, with up to 10 individuals per team (973 registered participants in Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Navajo counties), who walked a total of 223,153 miles. Statewide since its inception, 1,088 teams with 9,529 participants (some repeated) from 14 of Arizona’s 15 counties have reported walking over 2 million miles.

•Data analyzed from exit surveys of the 2010 participants identified the top three benefits of participation: 1) Increased the exercise they were already doing (52 percent), 2) Increased their energy (38 percent), and 3) Helped them to feel less stressed (36 percent).  In Pima County, participants reported walking more miles during the second half of the campaign, from 4.59 (n=420) at entry to 5.00 at wrap-up (n =428). Daily vegetable consumption increased from 1.3 cups at entry to 1.5 cups at wrap-up (n=513) and daily fruit consumption increased from 1.10 cups at entry to 1.14 cups at wrap-up.

•There was an 82 percent increase in the number of participants, from pre- to post-testing, who agreed with the statement, "I currently participate in physical activity regularly (5 or more days a week), but have only done so for 1 to 6 months.” The goal is for them to be involved in physical activity for 5 days per week and longer than 7 months; the increase shows they are moving in the right direction for behavioral change.  

•The response rate for Pima County with 570 participants on wrap-up forms was 92 percent, the highest response rate since the program started in 2001.

Conact Name: 
Linda Block
Contact E-mail: