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Step Up Your Physical and Mental Health with Walking

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Step Up Your Physical and Mental Health with Walking

Exercise does not have to be complicated. You can walk anywhere! A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of disease. So, make a goal this month to go for a walk every day or every other day. Get up and start walking!

Benefits of Walking

  • Improves muscle strength and coordination.
  • Increases energy levels and helps reduce stress and tension.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes fat loss.
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness. A healthy heart and lungs equals better circulation, and stable blood pressure.
  • Helps lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar.
  • Aids in preventing high risk diseases and strengthens the immune system.

Walking is a simple, health promoting activity we can all easily do more of every day. On your next walk, take a moment to analyze your unique walking style and ways you may be able to improve your posture, foot placement, stride, and arm swing.

Walking Techniques

  • Posture: Walk with the head upright. Relax your shoulders and back, your body should not be hunched over.
  • Foot placement: Keep your feet close to the center of your path and be aware of the terrain.
  • Stride: Always keep one foot on the ground. Your heel should strike the ground first, followed by rolling the ball of your foot, finishing with a strong push off the toes.
  • Arm swing: Swinging your arms makes walking a full body exercise. You will burn 5-10% more calories by adding an arm swing.

Easy Ways to Incorporate Walking Into Your Day

  • Walk and talk with a friend, in person or on the phone!
  • Incorporate more stairs into your day. Walk your pets. You'll both benefit!
  • Visit your favorite park or explore a new one.
  • Take a walk at lunch time.
  • Park further away from the door.
  • Create active family time and while also making memories.

How to Build Up Your Total Walking Distance

  • Beginners: Start by walking briskly for 10 minutes a day. Aim for an average pace around 3 to 3.5mph. Each week add 5 minutes until you are able to walk 30 minutes a day 5 to 6 days a week
  • Intermediate: For individuals who are regularly active. Start with a walking pace of 3.5-4.5mph. Aim to walk roughly 3 miles a day. If the pace is too fast, try increasing your walking distance instead.
  • Advanced: For individuals that are ready to take walking to the next level, increase the intensity of your walking. Try walking up an incline, or adding weight to a backpack.

Safety Tips

  • Try to limit your walking to only sidewalks when possible.
  • Avoid walking after dark. If it is dark when walking, walk on well-lit streets and wear reflective gear or check to see if your local school district has a track that is open to the public.
  • Flashlights, reflective gear, cell phones, and whistles are all important when walking, especially at night.
  • If an incident occurs, yell FIRE, instead of HELP. People are more likely to respond to the word FIRE.
  • Always let someone know that you are going out for a walk and where you plan to go.

Walking is a fun and easy activity that doesn't have to be hard. Your walk doesn't have to be long or far. Just taking 10 minutes out of your day to start walking more can have many physical and mental health benefits!

*Before starting any new exercise regimen, please consult your doctor.