Margaret Hazlett, a 23-year-old UF doctoral candidate, gives Diane David an ice pop stick as she completes a lap around the track at Fred Cone Park at the Walktober Wellness Walk on Monday evening.

Aaron Albright / Alligator

UF physical therapy student Scott Venkataraman screened Gainesville residents’ blood pressure and heart rate at a health event Monday. 

The 23-year-old second-year UF graduate student took part in the Walktober event along with about 10 physical therapy students at the Fred Cone Park located at 2841 E. University Ave. 

Walktober, a free six-week health program, is getting the Gainesville community active until Nov. 10 to promote healthy living. 

Each week during the Monday Wellness Walks, volunteers will promote healthy living with the purpose of educating residents and preventing future health issues. 

This is the first year Walktober is being hosted by the Alachua County Health Department, the Gaitor Challenge, a UF physical therapy community health initiative, and Combatting Obesity for Alachua County’s Health. 

“I think the opportunity to walk or to exercise has immense benefits for health, both for the prevention of problems but also for general well-being,” said Kim Dunleavy, head of community outreach for the Gaitor Challenge REACH group.

Gainesville resident Marie Ford is participating in Walktober not only for her own health but for her daughter’s.

“I’m trying to get her to exercise more too, to get her away from the games and television,” she said. “I just want her to be a little bit more active, and if I start her out young, maybe it’ll motivate her to want to stay fit.”

UF physical therapy students will continue to educate and encourage residents at Fred Cone Park. 

“By being in the program and doing these outreach groups, it’s really nice to see that we’re able to talk to the community about their health issues that we may not necessarily treat outright,” Venkataraman said. 

[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 10/7/2014]