The Tazewell County Health Department is holding its annual “Trek Around Tazewell” to encourage people to walk for exercise.

This is the third year for the event.

“We’ve always had our Community Health Improvement Plan, and one of our priorities has been physical fitness, to increase our physical activities of Tazewell County residents,” said Sara Sparkman, TCHD communications manager. “And this was just kind of a catchy way to get people to think about walking more. We found out the distance around Tazewell County on the outside and thought that was kind of a fun way to go 132 miles in eight weeks.

“The last two years, we’ve had right at 60 people actively involved. About a third of those last year finished 132 miles. There’s no weigh in — we’re looking for the increase in physical activity.”

Sparkman said walking is encouraged as exercise for a number of reasons.

“Walking is just kind of an easy choice,” she said. “You don’t have to go to a gym, but it also does a lot of good things for your body — reduces the risk of heart disease, can help maintain or reduce your body weight and it’s good for your mental well-being.

“Walking is one of the easier exercises because you can just get up from your desk and take a 10-minute walk on your break or over lunch do a 10- or 15-minute walk real quick. The recommendation is 30 minutes, but you can do that in 10-minute walks three times a day. There are a lot of different options.”

The trek runs from Oct. 1 through Nov. 25. The county will use Benovate, a private health portal, to track the miles. To register your tracking device or app go to www.leaptazewell.com. The participant will receive a confirmation email from info@benovate.com verifying the account.

The cost to register is $20 per person. The money goes to the Tazewell Public Health Foundation. Make checks payable to the foundation and mail to TPHF, 21306 Illinois Route 9, Tremont, IL, 61568.

There will be three prizes for the event this year — the most miles completed, the person who finishes the required miles in the quickest time, and, for the first time, a random drawing from all who completed the required miles. Last year, prizes included a fitness device, fitness class or a membership to a gym. Prizes for this year have not yet been finalized.

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