Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Walk to Better Health

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

The one-way walk to work each day is approximately 1500-1700 steps for me, or about a 10-15-minute walk, depending on the conditions of the road and whether I’m running late or not.  That’s also just a little short of a mile for me.  On a good day where I don’t have lunch meetings, that means I can walk home for lunch and then repeat the cycle at quitting time as well, giving me 6,000 steps at the minimum on my watch/pedometer.  You factor in other errands, moving at work and at home and usually I walk about 10,000 steps each day.  Through this method of walking everywhere I can usually walk about 15 miles, or 25 kilometers each week.

According to health professionals, walking 10,000 steps each day is a good goal.  Now, with our northern Montana weather, especially in the winter, walking any great distance can be a challenge.  Sometimes sidewalks aren’t cleared from snow, or in the absence of sidewalks, roadways.  There is the very real concern about slipping and falling when walking in the snow and ice, and there is the biting cold to deal with.  If you are serious about walking, I would encourage everyone to look at investing in a good set of snow boots or some sort of traction devices to put on your feet.  Other than that, bundling up in layers is the way to go to beat the cold.
There are benefits of walking, including it being a low impact way of getting in shape and losing weight.  According to other research, it also improves your sleep.  I haven’t necessarily found that to be true in my case, but it certainly could be true for others.  Walking daily has also shown to increase good cholesterol, commonly called HDL, and decrease the LDL, or bad cholesterol.  It also reduces stress, which I can fully appreciate.  That time to walk, just like driving, gives my mind time to wander and think about the day, and is much healthier than sitting in the car.  Increases in balance and endurance, along with a decrease in fatigue will grow with a consistent habit of walking daily.  For my family, who have a history of Type 2 diabetes, it is also a way to help control blood sugars, along with the other good health habits I previously mentioned that also help in managing the disease.

Whatever your reason for walking, in the words of a famous shoe logo, “just do it!”  It’s a great way to keep in shape physically and mentally!

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