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Health, News|April 14, 2011 9:00 pm

Spring is Here, Wake up and Walk!

Is the college 15 slowly making its way into your personal area code?  Are you finding yourself getting stressed out or tired after long days of classes or work?  I have the solution for you, and all it takes is a little motivation, and a desire for a breath of fresh air!  You won’t even have to pay a monthly fee or sign up for anything.  It’s actually quite simple – Take a walk!

There are so many benefits of walking:

  • Reduces anxiety and depression, boosting your mood
  • Helps reduce stress levels
  • Increases your energy levels
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Improves your self-esteem
  • Reduces your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
  • Lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes
  • Increases the number of calories your body burns, which helps to manage your weight
  • Helps keep your bones, muscles, and joints healthy
  • Lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • It may help protect against certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer

Not to mention, walking lets you get out into the environment, and enjoy the beauty of the day (weather permitting).  All you need to get started is a good pair of walking/running shoes, a comfortable outfit that allows you to move freely, and 30 minutes of time.  That’s it; the rest is up to you.  Starting a routine, and sticking to it, is often a challenge, but once you start, the endorphins created by walking is almost addicting.  Try it for just a month.  Wake up each morning at a scheduled time, and take a 30 minute walk.  See how it makes you feel.  You can vary the time of day that you walk, of course, but setting a schedule at first will help you establish a walking regimen.   Then, once you’re focused on getting your miles in every day, you can track your time and mileage for different activities you do throughout the day.  If you’re a commuter student, try parking off campus and walking to your classes.  If you’re on campus, take a break during your studying and walk to get an ice tea or frozen yogurt.

Always remember the following when getting into a walking routine:

  • Choose safe environments to walk in that will put you in a good state of mind.  Know your route, and try not to get too far off the beaten path.
  • Be sure to start your walk with a nice thorough stretch.  Stretch out your calves, arms, torso, and thighs to reduce the risk of pulling a muscle or getting aches.
  • Sometimes a walk is needed to just clear your head and get your thoughts in order.  A quiet walk by yourself can be just what the doctored order, but it can also be beneficial to walk with a friend.  You can motivate each other to go that extra mile, and you can catch up on gossip, while reducing your stress levels and your waistlines!
  • Don’t over exhaust yourself.  If you need to slow down – slow down.  Take deep breaths as you walk.  If you feel a cramp – take deep breaths in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  • If you want to speed up – speed up.  Take on the challenges as you desire.  Try interval walking, whereby, you cycle walking and jogging/running.  Walk for a few minutes, take a jog for a few minutes, and then continue walking.
  • If you’re going out for long distances, carry a water bottle with you, so you do not get dehydrated.
  • Listening to your favorite tunes while you walk can definitely keep you in an upbeat mood, and give you a little extra boost, but remember to keep your music at a moderate sound level.  Ensure you can hear the traffic or surroundings around you for precautionary measures.

Remember, you can always get more sophisticated with your approach to walking, and choose the newest wet-dry clothing, aerodynamic shoes, or snazzy belt that carries your water bottle and iphone, but these things are definitely not required to get you out of the house and start walking.  In addition, as you increase your intensity level, you could also add hand or ankle weights as you walk.

If you’re a real goal setter, set up a walk-a-thon on campus or in your community.  This is a great way to endorse a special cause, hold a fundraiser, and promote good health and well being.  Check out this link for for checklists and tips to set up a walk-a-thon in your area.

It’s far too easy to sleep in on a Saturday and Sunday morning – challenge yourself!  Wake up and Walk!

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