Hopefully we may finally be in for some nice spring weather. Once it hits, many of us are ready to get out of winter hibernation mode and literally “step into spring”. If you’re like me, sunny skies and warmer temps will motivate you to get out and get moving.
But don’t think that you have to join a gym or an aerobics class to get the physical activity that you need. It can be much simpler than that. Try walking; it’s the most popular form of physical activity in the U.S. Just put on some comfortable shoes with good support and head out your door.
“Walking ranks among the most prevalent and beneficial forms of exercise” reports Van Wormer. Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. It is one of your body’s most natural forms of exercise. It’s safe, simple, doesn’t require practice, and there are many health benefits. The health benefits walking can provide include:
• lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol),
• raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol),
• lower your blood pressure,
• reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes,
• manage your weight,
• improve your mood, and
• stay strong and fit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) a week of physical activity at a moderate effort (a fast-paced walk). Children should get one hour of activity every day. However, according to the CDC, less than half of adults get enough physical activity to benefit their health.
To help stay motivated and make meeting walking goals easier, try a pedometer for counting your steps. Research shows that the pedometer – a small and typically inexpensive device that counts steps – is an excellent motivational tool for walking, as well as other physical activities. Pedometers are easy to use and can be used by almost anyone. Studies show that people walk more when they wear a pedometer.
So, to take best advantage of the long awaited spring thaw, get a pedometer, get walking and get fit.
Van Wormer J. Pedometers and brief e-counseling: Increasing physical activity for overweight adults. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 2004.
Mayo Clinic (2008). Walking for fitness: How to trim your waistline, improve your health [on-line]. Retrieved June 25, 2009. From http://mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ01612.
Pollard, J. MPH, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Health Hints: Pedometers Motivating Fitness. Sept 2009.
Writer: Polly Loy, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County, email@example.com.
Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, firstname.lastname@example.org.