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Fitness program promotes exercise while also encouraging participants to show their support for deployed soldiers

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Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 12:00 pm

By Rose L. Thayer

Fort Hood Herald

Fort Hood is encouraging people to take some time over the next year to walk to Afghanistan - not literally, but through a new fitness program.

Participants will log 7,720 "miles" of exercise to show support to for deployed soldiers, while getting active.

The Walk to Afghanistan self-guided program began July 1, and encourages teams and individuals to log fitness miles through June 30 in hopes of figuratively reaching 7,720 miles, the distance to Afghanistan. Participants can count actual miles they walk, run, bike or swim, or they can count any other physical activity - 20 minutes equals one mile.

So far, Fort Hood's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation has more than 160 people signed up as individuals or as part of a team. People can join in at any time, and Millie Land, a recreation specialist with FMWR, said new people are signing up every day.

"It's a very big program because it's a great program," Land said. "We wanted to get them out of the house and involved."

She said using the word walk, as opposed to run, also was important.

"Who can't walk?" Land said. "If you say run on a military installation, people think you have to be in shape. If you say walk, people think, 'I walk to my car, I walk to my mailbox.' It makes the activity user-friendly. However, in their walking, people find out they want to do a little bit more."

Land said the program is getting more people into the gyms and fitness classes on post.

"It's too hot to walk outside, so people can come in here and utilize the treadmill and the already scheduled fitness classes. It's getting more people out of the house and into the gym."

Karen Vidra-Zug, along with friends she's made through the Abrams Physical Fitness Center spin class, formed Team Spinster. Several members of the nine-person team are either soldiers, or spouses of soldiers, who've deployed to Afghanistan.

"We're trying to show support for all of our soldiers," Vidra-Zug said. "It gives us a little more incentive to make it to the classes and to do them. I get excited because I get to mark that on my log."

Her husband is in Iraq with 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, but is scheduled to be home soon - and she's already got his paperwork ready to join Team Spinster.

The program also brought out Vidra-Zug's competitive side. "I admit I'm very competitive. My goal is to beat everybody else on my team. I want to go farther than anybody else. If anybody is even close, I have to up my game," she said.

The Walk to Afghanistan is open to anyone, Land said. There are teams from as far away as Houston and San Antonio. Even soldiers deployed to Iraq are involved.

Information and training logs are available at all post fitness centers. For more information, call (254) 285-5459 or go to www.hoodmwr.com.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

Get active

Join the Walk to Afghanistan and log 7,720 miles before June 30, 2012.

Participants can count actual miles they walk, run, bike or swim, or they can count any other physical activity - 20 minutes equals one mile.

Information packets and training logs are available at all Fort Hood fitness centers. For more information, call (254) 285-5459 or go to www.hoodmwr.com.

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