Updated 05/07/2018 at 8:56 a.m.
Though English Lecturer Leah Beth Johnston recently completed a marathon and has done several other marathons in the past, this is the first time she has done a walking challenge.
“I just love promoting health and fitness,” Johnston said.
Johnston is a member of Happy Feat, one of 25 teams participating in the fourth annual 8-Week Walking Challenge at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. The challenge started March 26 and goes until May 20. There are 125 faculty and staff competing.
The goal is to have each team walk 1,000 miles, or 2 million steps, within eight weeks. Human Resources has a map for walkers to follow on campus. The participants are also encouraged to walk in areas where they live as well.
Johnston finished the Little Rock Marathon March 4 in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was looking for a way to stay in shape after it. This marathon took her about five hours to complete. Johnston enjoys running marathons and her favorite was an Ultra Marathon called Big Dog Ultra Marathon.
Johnston does her part by walking when she gets home in the King William neighborhood.
“It’s a very walkable neighborhood, and so I’ve started inviting people to evening walks,” Johnston said. She invites her neighbors to walk with her, as well as some of her team who live near her. She also walks around the River Walk because she lives nearby.
Francy Leal, human resources generalist with benefits and wellness, is in charge of organizing the event every year.
“So, it incorporates everybody,” Leal said. “It doesn’t matter what you are doing, if you’re doing yard work. Just because it’s called an 8-Week Walking Challenge doesn’t mean you have to be walking.”
They even have conversion charts for people in a wheelchair or those who have trouble walking.
“It’s important so that faculty and staff members are able to partake in a health and wellness program that will allow them to have a healthy habit that will last a lifetime and for it to be inclusive to everyone,” Leal said.
A participant’s everyday yard work can equate into steps. Light physical activity like yard work or gardening for 30 minutes equals one mile. So they have a way to get steps in with just about every physical activity someone could do.
In addition, 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity equals two miles. There are many activities that someone can do, such as hiking with a 40-pound pack, soccer, volleyball, power walking and riding a stationary bicycle.
The winning team in this challenge will receive an Apple Watch Sport Series 3 with GPS, and the second place team will receive $125 toward the purchase of athletic shoes.
Last year during the Spring Walking Challenge the 27 teams walked a total of 36,800 miles.
Currently this challenge is only open for faculty and staff. But the HR department is looking into a way to possibly making this available to students in the future.
“They think that it is really cool, that it’s different, that it provides a community environment,” Leal said. “You get to network with people from across campus that they may not have known. So all in all it produces a great activity that people can join together since it’s a team activity.”