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Green enviro-healthy recipe: A free fun way to get off the couch


A rewarding virtual tour of Illinois.
Active Transportation Alliance

Want a green, healthy recipe? Start with a chunk of carbon-zero exercise to help you and the planet--any type will do. Add self-reward for your effort, and a little bit of fun competition among your friends and co-workers. Throw is some Illinois touring from your own computer. What do you get?

Walk Across Illinois, a free online experience.

Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago is sponsoring Walk Across Illinois, a free online program, to inspire people to get out and exercise.

Active Transportation Alliance promotes carbon-free travel and encourage folks to use their own two feet by walking and biking. But this program also includes other exercise options to count toward your total exercise "mileage."

What counts as 1 mile? Mowing your lawn for 30 minutes, playing basketball for 10 minutes, or biking for 15 minutes. I must say that if I played basketball for 10 minutes, I would exert much less energy than middle schoolers that I've seen play. And Spinning class uses a bit more energy than a bike ride to the grocery store.

That said, you can be the judge of your exertion. Give yourself the credit you think you deserve. Use this as your own pat on the back for getting out and exercising.

People of all ages, lifestyles, and abilities can do it--you set your goals and do your best! Thus far active participants have logged over 310,000 miles on the site.

Here's what you do. You log your exercise time online. The program converts your specific activity and time spent to "miles walked."

What is the reward? As you add up the miles, you can take tours through Illinois online.

For example, you can take the Pat Quinn walk. In 2001, Pat Quinn walked 167 miles across Illinois from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan as part of a campaign for better health care. With Walk Across Illinois, you can follow Gov. Quinn’s path on the site's Introductory Route. You also learn about the state's history and geography while touring online.

Group-friendly programs make it easy get your friends and family on board with you regardless of where they live. Offices have set up teams that are competing against each other for total team distance. Schools have signed on to encourage their students to get active.

Go online and give it a try! Get a little exercise, learn about the Land of LIncoln, and give yourself a reward. Take a few steps to help your health and help the environment.

Comments, questions or suggestions? Anything you want to know about environmental health? Email your Chicago Environmental Health Examiner at MarisaNaujokas@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter @chicagoenviron. Subscribe above and you will receive an email when I post a new article.

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