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Monday, April 28, 2014

National Walk at Lunch Day This Wednesday

This Wednesday, April 30, is National Walk at Lunch Day. According to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes are threatening the lives of Americans everyday. Inactive lifestyles not only affect physical health, they also can cost families thousands of dollars each year in expenses.

NwldlogoBlue Cross and Blue Shield companies are encouraging their employees and their customers to wear comfortable walking shoes to work and take time during their lunch breaks to start walking toward better health. National Walk at Lunch Day is designed to fit into daily schedules. Obviously, if you are unable to walk during your lunch break, take some time during the day to go for a walk. You'll feel much better.

During the inaugural National Walk at Lunch Day, tens of thousands of employees, customers, and community leaders in 46 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico included a half-hour into their workdays to go for a walk.

Bloke_walkinghappyI've already touted the many benefits of walking in earlier blog entries. Today, I don't watch television, but I do walk. In fact, as soon as I get home from work, I lace up my sneaks and, weather permitting, try to walk at least two miles before I pick up my sons from school. After dinner, my son laces up his roller blades and joins me as I add at least another half-mile. Some days, I'll be gone for two hours. If it weren't for daily chores, I probably could go on virtually forever.

Before you start your walking program, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends following a few basic principles that will help keep you safe and comfortable:
  • If you have a health condition or have not done any regular physical activity for a long time (men over 40, women over 50), talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
  • Choose comfortable, supportive shoes, such as running, walking, or cross training shoes, or light hiking boots.
  • If you're going for a longer walk, warm up with stretching exercises, and include a cool-down period to reduce stress on your heart and muscles.
  • Maintain a brisk pace. You should work hard to keep up your pace but still be able to talk while walking.
  • Practice correct posture — head upright, arms bent at the elbow and swinging as you stride.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after walking to cool working muscles and keep your body hydrated.
ChildwalkThe goal should be to try an add 10,000 steps each day. Exercise doesn't have to be a rigid, time-consuming activity. In fact, it shouldn't be thought of in terms of one activity. Walking your dog, walking with your child to the park, walking to and from the parking lot, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can be a part of an exercise routine that adds up to an additional 10,000 steps daily.

The challenge is to think creatively about ways you might add "steps" to your day. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Take the stairs as often as possible
  • Park several blocks from your destination or park at the rear of the parking lot
  • Walk the last few blocks instead of riding the bus all the way to work
  • Get off the elevator below your destination and walk a couple of flights of stairs
  • Park at the opposite end of the mall from where you need to shop
  • Walk to do shopping or other errands
Consider adding other walking routines to your day by organizing a lunchtime walking group at work, or a before-or after-work group with friends or neighbors. Instead of watching television after dinner, get the whole family outside for a game of tag, frisbee or a walk around the block. Try not to get stuck in the "all or nothing" rut  — even if you don't have time for a long walk, you might be able to squeeze in a short one, or at least take the stairs.

Today is a perfect day to go for a walk. It will be mostly sunny and seasonably mild with a high temperature in the low-to-mid 60s. Tonight will become mostly cloudy with lows in the 40s. Some showers will develop tomorrow afternoon before a steadier and heavier rain arrives late Wednesday, hopefully after your lunchtime walk. Start a new tradition. You'll feel much better.