Walk 30 minutes a day to put a spring in your step
Let’s be honest – we all know walking can improve our health, but, for various reasons, many of us save walking for another day.
“A walking program is only successful if you are able to realistically stick to it,” says Dennis Keefe, physical therapist at Winneshiek Medical Center. “You have to start with where you are on the fitness scale, and set achievable goals.” Keefe explains that an initial goal may be to walk to the mailbox and back. The next day, walk to the end of the block and home again. He says, “In no time, you will surprise yourself with how far you’ve come.” If a person walks just 30 minutes, five days a week, he or she will significantly reduce their chances for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and others. Walking can help control your weight, improve symptoms of depression and strengthen your body.
Tips to get (and stay) walking
- Grab a friend. Walking provides more than just health benefits. It is an opportunity to connect with others along the way.
- Set achievable goals so you are successful each day.
- Stretch before and after you walk to reduce next day-soreness.
- Dress for success. Carry a pair of tennis shoes and a light jacket in your car, at the office or wherever you are. If you get 10 extra minutes, put them on and take off.
- Just do it. No matter what, incorporate walking into your day.
If you currently lead a more sedentary lifestyle, have a medical condition or are recovering from an injury, talk to your primary care doctor before starting a walking program. Keefe says, “With communication and clear goals, you are two steps closer to achieving the health benefits of daily walking. Everyone who is physically able should make a commitment to walk.”
Walk More. Connect More.
A new website is stocked with tools and inspiration to help get communities on the move: www.WalkNEIowa.org. Downloadable materials include printable instructions for how to start a walking group or a walking school bus, as well as useful community walking maps.
The local project was inspired by the national “Walk More. Connect More” campaign of AmericaWalks.org. After extensive message testing, America Walks discovered that people are much more inspired to get going when they learn about walking as an opportunity to build relationships and human connection with others. The initiative hopes to help inspire users to forge connections with others, as well as to connect the dots between walking and their own mental and physical health.
Walk More. Connect More. is a made possible by partnership between Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative and over 30 regional partners including Winneshiek Medical Center.