A new federal report finds Americans are walking more and those who walk are healthier. The C.D.C. report singles out the I-WALK program in Iowa for helping promote physical fitness. I-WALK stands for Iowans Walking Assessment Logistics Kit.

Sarah Taylor-Watts, the physical activity coordinator for the Iowa Department of Public Health, says I-WALK maps safe walking routes to school for children and routes for adults, too.

“Children have to get to school regardless so it’s finding a way to incorporate walking and biking into their day,” Taylor-Watts says. “Instead of kids being driven to school, it’s an opportunity for them to walk to school which adds minutes of physical activity to their day without really taking too much time out of their day.”

The report also found there’s still plenty of work to do, as fewer than half of American adults and only 45-percent of Iowa adults reach the recommended guideline of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Some programs that promote walking involve the use of pedometers, counting one’s steps throughout the day or measuring the distance they’ve walked.

“We don’t keep track of anything like that,” Taylor-Watts says. “I-WALK is primarily just about improving the environment so kids can walk or bike to school and providing those non-infrastructure things so maybe helping the school starting a walking school bus or something like that.” She explains the concept of a walking school bus.

“It’s like a traditional school bus but instead of a group of kids riding a bus, they walk together like on a bus and an adult usually leads the group,” Taylor-Watts says. “Maybe it’s a parent volunteer or a teacher or some schools, like the high school honor class, will lead the group.”

The I-WALK program is already being used in the following 16 Iowa communities: Cedar Falls, Dallas Center, Washington, Wellman, DeSoto, West Des Moines, Tabor, Hull, Spencer, Kalona, Riceville, Atlantic, Vinton, Independence, West Union and Fort Madison. Another 12 communities will be added to the list this fall.

Learn more at:  www.i-walk.org