“All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole.” -Hal Borland
I love to walk, especially in the early mornings on a beautiful day with my dog, Buddy. Walking is my favorite way to get my daily exercise. I do not listen to music when I am walking, rather I love to hear the sound of the birds and the rustle of leaves from a gentle breeze. I talk with my dog. I talk to God. This is my peaceful, therapeutic time just for me.
- It reduces your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke
- It lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes
- It lowers high blood pressure (hypertension)
- It protects against falling and bone fractures in older adults
- It may help protect against certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer
- It increases the number of calories your body uses, which helps to control your weight
- It helps control joint swelling and pain from arthritis.
- Helps keep your bones, muscles, and joints healthy
- Reduces anxiety and depression, boosting your mood
- Helps you handle stress
- Helps you feel more energetic
- Helps you sleep better
- Improves your self-esteem
- Gives you an opportunity to socialize actively with friends and family.
This is my favorite walking partner, Buddy, as a puppy four years ago:
Pretty cute, huh?
Unbelievably, this little guy walks me! During our walks we engage in a variety of walking from stopping for potty moments, leisure walking and definitely brisk walking. Our usual walking dates are about 45 minutes.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes with a lot of support, including proper arch support, a firm heel, and thick, flexible soles that will cushion your feet and absorb shock. If you walk frequently, you may need to buy new shoes often. You may wish to speak with a podiatrist about when you need to purchase new walking shoes.
- Wear garments that prevent inner-thigh chafing, such as tights or spandex shorts. Also wear clothes that will keep you dry and comfortable. Look for synthetic fabrics that absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.
Make walking fun by walking with a friend, family member or pet. Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping mall. Scenery makes a walk joyous and refreshing.
- Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner or group of people to walk with you.
Wear a knit cap in winter for extra warmth. To stay cool in summer, wear a baseball cap or visor.
Think of your walk in three parts. Warm up by walking slowly for five minutes. Then increase your speed and do a fast walk. Finally, cool down by walking slowly again for five minutes.
Do light stretching before and after your walks to warm-up, loosen up and cool-down.
Try to walk at least three times per week. Each week, add two or three minutes to your walk. If you walk fewer than three times per week, you may need more time to adjust before you increase the pace or frequency of your walk.
Start gradually to avoid stiff or sore muscles and joints. Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going farther, and walking for longer periods of time.
Set goals and rewards. Some examples of goals are participating in a fun walk or walking continuously for 30 minutes.
Keep track of your progress with a walking journal or log.
I know for me, some days can be 12 hours long.
Sometimes it seems impossible to step away from your desk. Our jobs are important to us and some people worry about getting fired for missing a call, an email, or taking too long a lunch. However, the truth is we cannot get fired for standing up, going to the bathroom, or getting more water from the cooler. If your workplace is not completely rigid, switching your chair out for a Swiss ball a few times a day can make a huge difference in your posture. If you work from home, flexibility is even better for implementing more movement throughout your work day. Even just standing up next to your desk can give your back the break from compressing that it desperately needs. So stand up, roll your shoulders back a few times, and breathe deeply. Go fill up a water bottle, which will give you even more reasons to stand up, as you will need the restroom. And set a timer to go off once an hour, so that you remember to do it.
Moving and stretching once an hour should be priority for your overall health and well being.
Keep water at your desk!
Besides the previously mentioned reason to drink water (getting you out of your chair), hydration in an office setting is sorely overlooked. Your body requires a lot of water, even if you’re stuck in a chair. Being well hydrated keeps you mentally alert, flushes out toxins from air conditioning, and will sometimes help with food cravings. So drink up.
Additionally, you can stretch your entire body in a cubicle – a lot of it while sitting down. Here are some stretching options, which will release lactic acid buildup and help with structural alignment.
- Neck: Lean right ear to right shoulder until you feel a stretch along the left side of your neck, hold for 10 seconds, switch to the other side. Lower chin to chest until you feel a stretch along the back of your neck, hold for 10 seconds. Lift chin toward ceiling, until you feel a stretch along the front of your throat, hold for 10 seconds. Look over your right shoulder, hold for 10 seconds and then over your left.
- Shoulders: Extend both arms over head, interlace fingers, turn palms, and push up. Then interlace fingers with palms up behind back, lean forward slightly from waist, and lift arms away from your body.
- Arms: Extend arm straight across your body, grasp forearm, and pull extended arm toward your body. Repeat with other arm. Then sit up in your chair, open your knees, and place your palms flat on the chair between them, with your fingertips facing you, and thumbs toward your knees. Push down on your flat palms.
- Chest: Lift both arms out to the side, creating a “T” with them. Bend at the elbows, so your hands are going straight up to the ceiling, and you resemble a football goalpost. Pull your elbows back and hold.
- Back: Sit up as tall as you can, and pull in your stomach muscles to your spine. Extend one arm across to the opposite arm of the chair, and twist. Hold for 10 seconds, and switch to the other side.
- Quadriceps/Hamstrings: Stand at your desk. Bend one knee behind you, lifting your foot off the floor and catching it with the same hand. Don’t lock your supporting leg; hips tucked under, and both knees together. Switch to other leg. Then place one foot on the desk in front of you, keeping the foot flexed and the knee straight. Put fingertips on leg, or desk, and with a flat spine, lean forward. If that isn’t possible, flex one foot on floor in front of you, and lean forward with a flat spine.
- Calves: Stand arms’ length away from your desk, both toes facing the desk. Step forward with one foot, and bending the knee, keeping the back knee straight and pushing down in the heel. Switch.
- Feet: Remove shoes if possible. Stand in front of desk. Form a “V” with your feet, heels together and toes pointed out at slight angles. Bend knees first, then lift up your heels, and hold for 5 seconds. Straighten knees and lower heels. Repeat 5 times.
Guess what I am going to do now? Yep, my alarm just went off!
Lastly, if you can work in walking during your lunch hour a few times a week, trust me you will feel wonderful. Even a 20-minute brisk walk will leave you feeling refreshed and being outdoors will clear away the cubicle cobwebs!
Remember to stretch by the hour today, drink your water and Keep Choosing Consistency during your work hours,