Posts Tagged ‘walking’

One of my goals for this year is to explore mindfulness. In this blog, I want to share a few things that I’ve learned about this life changing topic.

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in American mindfulness,
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

Path in forest I enjoy being outside in nature. I have often wondered why this is relaxing for me. Why is it that I breathe deeper and feel a sense of calmness come over me while enjoying the beauty of nature?

I have learned that it has to do with the focus on my surroundings and mental relaxation that I experience from being in nature. Moving mindfully provides us with several benefits and can help increase the awareness of our bodies and the surroundings around us. According to the American Heart Association, some benefits of mindful movement may include:

  • Manage stress, depression and insomnia
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve balance and stability
  • Relieve chronic pain
  • Improve quality of life and mood in people with heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses
  • Motivate you to exercise more and eat healthier

One reason that I enjoy exploring mindfulness in nature is that I am paying attention to my surroundings and experiencing several senses: sight, smell, touch, and hearing. Watching the way that a blade of grass blows in the wind, feeling wind in your face, hearing the rustle of leaves, watching clouds drift across the sky are all examples of ways that we can pay attention to the details in nature. You can also enjoy these visual cues while looking out your window.picture of woods with trees, wildflowers

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Integrative and Complementary Medicine website offers several Mindfulness practices for you to explore. Click on the link and check out their resources.

Take time during your busy life to check out nature as I did this past weekend. I visited one of my favorite spots in the town where I live. A 90-year-old man has 4 acres of paths and trails through his back yard. You can walk and explore the Hosta plants and wildflowers he has planted over the years. One year he shared with me he planted 3,000 daffodil bulbs!  Imagine all those beautiful flowers!

Share in the comments how you enjoy mindfulness in nature.


Dreskin, M., Smith, S. & Kane, D., Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors. Retrieved from: https://m.kp.org/health-wellness/mental-health/tools-resources/mind-body-wellness/movement-benefits

Powers-Barker, P., 2106. Introduction to Mindfulness. Ohioline Factsheet number HYG-5243. Ohio State University. Retrieved from: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Suttie, J., 2018. Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation is Good for your Health. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_mindfulness_meditation_is_good_for_your_health

Hostas courtesy of Cory’s Wildflower Gardens, Chillicothe, Ohio.

Written by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu

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Experts recommend that that one should try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. Although physical activity offers many benefits, there are also inherent risks such as developing knee, hip, and joint problems. If you walk on a regular basis, you might consider purchasing a trekking pole or two. Trekking poles are commonly used by hikers and backpackers to support their weight, improve balance, and lesson the stress on knees and joints. You can use one or two, but two will offer you the most benefits in terms of balance and stability.

Consider the many benefits of Trekking poles:

  • The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.
  • Walking poles improve balance and stability.
  • Walking poles help you maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and may help to strengthen upper back muscles.
  • Walking poles take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems.
  • Walking with poles may improve your mood.

Tips on purchasing trekking poles:

  • Trekking poles can be purchased fairly cheap at stores that sell sporting goods or camping/ outdoor equipment and range from $15-100 a piece.
  • Most are adjustable for height and for packing, or if you are going up (shorten) and down (lengthen) hills. The poles often come with rubber caps on the end that can grab pavement.
  • Consumers can choose among cork, foam, or rubber grips.  Each type of grip has its advantages and disadvantages, but cork might be most preferable for average walking.
  • Poles that have wrist straps and shock absorbers are best for relieving stress on knees, hips and other joints.
  • Most poles are made from aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum poles are cheaper but are more prone to bending under stress.
  • Poles also have an adjustable locking mechanism, with some that twist to adjust and others that use a lever lock.

Using Trekking poles

Poles should be adjusted so that the elbow is bent to around a 90 degree angle on a flat surface. Wrist straps should be used to ensure balance and stability. There are several YouTube videos that provide instruction on use. For some activities and styles (hikes with rock climbing), Trekking poles may not be the best option.


Physical Activity Basics. Then Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on 6/12/18 at https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

Could walking poles help me get more out of my daily walk? Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness. Accessed on 6/12/2018 at Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/walking-poles/faq-20057943

How to Choose the Best Trekking Polls. Outdoor Gear Lab. Accessed on 6/12/2018 at https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/camping-and-hiking/best-trekking-poles/buying-advice

Author: Dan Remley, Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County

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I can remember my grandmother telling us how she used to walk several miles to school, and if she was lucky she got a ride in a horse and buggy. She was always healthy even in old age, when I knew her.

October is International Walk to School Month. Students in different countries, including the United States, will be walking to school this fall. The goal of International Walk to School Month is to promote bicycling and walking as viable transportation options to and from school. Why? According to a Talking Points bulletin from the National Center from Safe Routes to School:

  • 1 out of 5 children are overweight. Walking or biking allows students time for physical activity of which they need at least 60 minutes per day. More active children are less prone to becoming overweight and developing chronic diseases earlier in life.
  • Walking and biking to school gives children a sense of responsibility and independence. It also allows time to socialize with parents, friends and neighbors which enhances sense of community.
  • Walking and biking reduces traffic congestion and thus improves air quality.
  • Steady increases in gas prices and greater distances between school and home have strained school transportation budgets across the country. In 1980, the average cost of transporting a student was $466. After adjusting for inflation, the average cost per student in 2006 was $765! Walking and biking are low-cost alternatives.

Unfortunately, fewer children walk or bike to school than did so a generation ago. Today 16% of children walk to school today as compared to 42% in 1969. There are many reasons for this statistic including distance to schools, perceptions of crime, lack of sidewalks, school busing policies, traffic concerns and lack of motivation. Many students are not able to walk or bike even if they wanted to due to the distance between their schools and home. Schools are moving out to the edge of town where land is less expensive and more available. In 1969 about 45% of students lived less than a mile from school as compared to about 25% today. However, many students who live relatively close (<1 mile) chose not to walk due to one or more of the aforementioned barriers. Many of these barriers could be addressed during Walk to School events in October.

During the month, participating students could meet at designated locations and will walk with adult volunteers along designated safe routes to school. Students and volunteers could complete “walking audits” and identify barriers along the way (dilapidated sidewalks, barking dogs etc.) The audits could later be used to engage the community to address these barriers. After the walk, the school could offer a breakfast and celebration for participants and volunteers. Non-walking students might be able to participate in special walking activities during recess. To encourage walking throughout the rest of the year, students could be eligible for prizes if they walk or bike to school or if they participate in designated walking activities.

If you are interested in learning more about Walk to School you can visit the walk to school day website at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/ready/about-the-events/walk-to-school-day. This website offers much of the information that your community would need to plan for a walk to school event.

Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Source: National Center for Safe Routes to School. Why Walk or Bicycle to School? Talking Points accessed from http://www.walktoschool.org/downloads/WTS-talking-points-2009.pdf

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Spring has arrived!  Imagine warmer days, flowers blooming and the smell of fresh cut lawns!  It’s also the perfect time to take inventory of our health.

  • Schedule appointments and health screenings.  Talk with your doctor to determine a health plan that works for you.
  • De-clutter your medicine cabinet.  Medication should be stored in a dry, cool cabinet.  Check the expiration dates of all medications.   Check with the drug stores or police departments to learn how to dispose safely of old medications.
  • Discard old makeup.  Most products have a one year shelf life.  Throw out products that have an odor or separation of ingredients.
  • Find your calm.  Learn to decrease stress instantly.  Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, envision a place that is peaceful.
  • Choose in-season, local produce.  Visit a farmers’ market and gain nutritional benefits with spring produce.
  • Go outside-talk a walk and benefit from physical activity and the wonders of the arrival of spring.
  •  Improve your happiness – get rid of clothes in your closet that don’t flatter you.  Get rid of the stuff you don’t want.  Research reveals that helping out others improves our happiness.

Take these steps to help improve your overall health and enjoy spring!

Author:  Beth Stefura M Ed, RD,LD.  Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/spring-clean

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winter exercise

According to Wikipedia, a mulligan is second chance to perform an action, usually after the first chance went wrong through bad luck or a blunder.  Well, I’m taking a mulligan on my exercise routine!  I was pretty faithful to my favorite activity of walking, recording with my Fitbit and using an app on my phone to track my activity.  Then, “life” happened…I got busy with work and family and holidays, etc. and my exercise routine suffered. I failed to keep it a priority.  But, the New Year happened last Thursday, and I decided to “take a Mulligan”.  I’m starting over.  I’ve walked outside everyday this year!

But, walking outside can be pretty cold!  Fortunately, there is a small college in my town and they allow the general public to utilize their fitness facility with a great walking track. I like to go there.  If you’re not in a similar situation, consider other options available to you, such as walking in a large Home Improvement or Warehouse type store.  Think about walking in a hospital, and using the stairs between each floor.  Go to an indoor shopping mall, just pocket your cash for now. Look for other climate controlled opportunities in your area.  Of course, there’s always indoor fitness equipment to purchase, if you want to do that.

If you do walk outside, there can be many wonderful advantages.  The environment varies, you see others who are choosing to be healthy, too, and that is an encouragement. The crisp air can be invigorating and energizing!   Just be sure to dress for the weather and the exercise and follow these simple tips:

  • Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, but especially if you are considering heading outside during these cold winter months and have certain conditions, such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud’s disease.
  • Check the forecast. The wind can play a major role in staying warm.
  • Avoid the inclination to overdress. Exercise will generate heat, so dress in layers that you can remove as you warm up. Otherwise, you’ll get too hot, then perspiration will begin to evaporate and you will feel too cool. Look for base layer fabrics designed for winter workouts. Fabrics that wick away moisture will keep you dryer and warmer.
  • Protect your head, hands, feet and ears. These extremities get cold because blood flow is concentrated in your core.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Call a friend to go with you for support and accountability.

There more details at these sites providing additional, in-depth information:

Sources: Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20045626

WebMD http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/how-to-keep-working-out-in-winter


Writer: Kathryn K Dodrill, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.


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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:
Father and Son Walking
• 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, loy.1@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

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As spring weather approaches, many of us will be taking our exercise activities outside. Walking is one of the most popular and easiest ways for us to improve our health.  But, you won’t walk for long  if your feet are hurting. It is important that we have properly fitting shoes to protect our feet and make walking more enjoyable.

Here are some interesting foot facts that should convince us how important well fitting shoes are!2113shoes 001

• There are 26 bones in the foot – in fact, 25 percent of all the bones in the human body are found in the feet!

• There are more than 30 moving joints in the foot.

• We put more than 200 pounds of pressure on each foot with a step.

• In an average person lifetime they walk more than 115,000 miles.

What should you consider when purchasing new walking shoes?

The best time of day to shop for new shoes is later in the day, after you have been walking and your feet are the largest. The shoes you select should be comfortable and fit your feet well. If possible, have both feet measured to ensure a good fit – your feet are often slightly different sizes. Take your current walking shoes with you to the shoe store. A trained professional can look at the wear on your shoes to suggest a new pair that will provide the best support for your feet.

A walking shoe should be light weight and provide good shock absorption. A professional can help you sort through all of the different  features available in shoes to help you find the perfect shoe for you.  The shoe should conform to the shape of your foot – never try to have your foot conform to the shape of the shoe! Shoes that are too wide or too narrow can cause blisters and calluses.

The arches of your feet help distribute your  body weight evenly over your feet. There are three basic types of arches: neutral, low or high arches. If you have a neutral arch look for shoes with a firm midsole, a semi-curved last (the shape of the sole) and moderate rear-foot stability; those with low arches (sometimes called flat feet) should look for shoes that stabilize your foot and a straight last; and if you have high arches, you should look for shoes that have cushioning to absorb shock and a curved last.

Always try on both shoes and walk around the store in them to be sure they are comfortable and supportive.  Wear the same type of socks that you will wear when walking. Your heel should fit snugly in the shoe with no slipping.

Once you have found the perfect shoes for your feet, don’t forget that they should be replaced when they start to show signs of wear. Your shoes may still feel comfortable but may no longer cushion or support your feet. Never sacrifice your feet for fashion!

Written By: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.


The Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ00885_D

The Ohio State University Medical Center, http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/wound_care/Documents/Choosingtherightshoe.pdf

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons,


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We have been enjoying a beautiful early spring with warm days and comfortable nights. This might be the perfect time for you to start a walking program.  There are few other types of exercise that are as easy, accessible and affordable as walking.

Walking provides so many benefits for our bodies. It can help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. It can help lower your blood pressure and help you control your type 2 diabetes. Walking can help manage your weight and improve your mood!

If it has been a while since you’ve done any type of exercise, you should check in with your doctor first and start gradually to prevent injury and sore muscles. Start with a time and distance that is comfortable for you – it might only be 5 to 10 minutes the first few days then gradually increase both time and distance.

Be sure that you wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Wear loose fitting clothing and dress in layers to accommodate the weather. If you are walking at night, wear reflective clothing so that motorists can easily see you!

Spend about 5 minutes at the beginning of your walk to warm up your muscles. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for about 5 minutes to cool down your muscles. Don’t forget to stretch!

Keep safety in mind when you walk outdoors. Walk with a friend when you can. Carry your cell phone, put your name and contact phone number in your pocket. Avoid dark and deserted areas, carry a whistle or pepper spray in case of an emergency, and don’t use a headset that might keep you from hearing traffic.

You can walk alone, with a friend or a pet. You could gather your entire family together!  Some people will enjoy the peace and quiet of walking alone; others enjoy the time spent with family and friends doing an enjoyable activity. Whichever one of these appeals to you, lace up your walking shoes and start walking today!

Sources:  www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking.; www.ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0105.html ; www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/walking-for-exercise

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University ExtensionFurther Reading:

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