FSCJ Health and Wellness- February Article

FSCJ Health and Wellness- February Article

A major goal to maintain a healthy heart is physical activity.

Have you been thinking of adding more physical activity to your life? Starting a walking program may be a great way to be more active. And walking on a regular basis may lead to many health benefits. Below you will find some tips on how to make walking a part of your daily routine.

What are the benefits of walking?

Walking is the most popular physical activity among adults. Taking a walk is low cost and doesn’t require any special clothes or equipment.

Walking may:

  • lower your risk of health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes
  • strengthen your bones and muscles
  • help you burn more calories
  • lift your mood

Make walking fun by going to places you enjoy, like a park or shopping center. Bring along a friend or family member to chat with, or listen to some of your favorite music as you walk. Keep the volume low so that you can hear noises around you.

Do I need to see a doctor first?

Most people do not need to see a doctor before they start a walking program. But if you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, check with your doctor first.

  • Has your doctor told you that you have heart trouble, diabetes or asthma?
  • When you are physically active, do you have pains in your chest, neck, shoulder or arm?
  • Do you often feel faint or have dizzy spells?
  • Do you feel very breathless after physical activity?
  • Do you have bone or joint problems, like arthritis, that make it difficult for you to walk?
  • Are you over 40 years old and have you recently been inactive?
  • Do you have a health problem that might keep you from starting a walking program?

How do I start?

1. Make a plan

  • Where will you walk?
  • How often will you walk?
  • Who will walk with you?
  • How far or for how long will you walk?

2. Get ready

Make sure you have anything you may need:

  • shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles
  • clothes that keep you dry and comfortable
  • a hat or visor for the sun, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • a hat and scarf to cover your head and ears when it’s cold outside

3. Go

Divide your walk into three parts:

  1. Warm up by walking slowly.
  2. Increase your speed to a brisk walk. This means walking fast enough to raise your heart rate while still being able to speak and breathe easily.
  3. Cool down by slowing down your pace.

When walking, be sure to use proper form:

  • Keep your chin up and your shoulders slightly back.
  • Let the heel of your foot touch the ground first, and then roll your weight forward.
  • Walk with your toes pointed forward.
  • Swing your arms naturally.

4. Add more

As walking becomes easier, walk faster and go farther.

Keep track of your progress with a walking journal or log. Record date, time and distance. Set goals and reward yourself with a relaxing shower or 30 minutes of quiet time to yourself. Review the sample walking plan on the back of this brochure for suggestions on how to start and slowly increase walking.

How much do I need to walk?

150 minutes per week. That’s the amount of time adults need per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (activity that speeds up your heart rate and breathing) to stay healthy.

Break it down
Walking briskly for 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week will help you meet this goal. But any 10-minute bout of physical activity helps.

Split it up
If you can’t walk for 30 minutes at a time, you can take three 10-minute walks instead.

Step it up
For more health benefits and to control your weight, you may need to walk more. Aim for 300 minutes each week, or about 1 hour a day for 5 days. The more you walk, the more health benefits you may gain.

What about safety?

  • Walk with others, when possible, and take a phone and ID with you.
  • Let your family and friends know your walking time and route.
  • If it is dark outside, wear a reflective vest or brightly colored clothing.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.

How can I make walking a habit?

The key to building any habit is to stick with the new behavior. Having a regular walking buddy may help keep you going—even on days when you would rather stay home. You can cheer each other on and serve as role models for friends, family members and others.

When barriers come up, like time demands or bad weather, think of ways to beat them, like walking inside of a shopping center. If you have a setback, start again as soon as you can. With time, walking will become a part of your daily routine and may make it easier to try other types of physical activity.