A perfect season for strolling in Georgia
Like a cool Southern breeze, September is finally here. The milder temperatures make it a great season to get outside and take in some fresh air.
The surprising benefits of a brisk walk
Walking outside is an effective, easy way to get and stay fit. It’s excellent for relieving stress, sparking creativity, and practicing mindfulness. Other benefits include improved mental health and wellness, increased bone strength, and help in treating a range of conditions (such as arthritis, restless leg syndrome, and some autoimmune disorders).
Outdoor walking is also a foolproof way to get around fitness obstacles. It’s gentle enough to accommodate many health issues, doesn’t cost any money, and can be done virtually anywhere.
For best results, aim for a daily goal of 10,000 steps. This should give you 30 minutes of exercise if you walk at a brisk pace. Getting those 30 minutes in each day has been linked to weight loss, reduced blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular health.
So lace up your shoes, put on some sunscreen, and let’s get started!
Get the most from your walk
Warm up: Warming up protects you from muscle strain and joint injury. Start slowly, then gradually build your pace for the first 5 to 10 minutes of your walk.
Walk at a moderate pace: At an ideal pace, you should be able to carry on a conversation. If you can sing, walk faster. If you can’t talk comfortably, slow down.
If you’re working on your cardiovascular health, it can be helpful to check your heart rate as you go.
Start small: Start with a time, distance, pace, and schedule that you can comfortably manage. Then build up to 30 to 40 minutes of brisk walking at least 5 days a week. This should give you 2 to 3 miles per walk.
Walking at a moderate pace differs for everyone, but most people can walk a mile in 15 minutes. In a city, you can walk a mile in about 12 blocks. To get really specific with your distance, track it with a pedometer, a smartphone, or a wearable fitness monitor.
Cool down: When you’re almost done, gradually slow your pace to prevent dizziness. Once you arrive back at your starting point, spend a few minutes on strength and flexibility exercises (yoga’s excellent for both).
Keep it going: Habits take time to form. But as long as you’re consistent, little steps can lead to big changes — a dynamic discussed by Dr. BJ Fogg, of Stanford University, as “success momentum”. If you need extra encouragement, Kaiser Permanente is here to help with online tools like “Every Body Walk!”
Find your motivation with local events
If you want to work toward a specific goal, this year’s Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk in may be the perfect fit. Scheduled for September 7, 2017, the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk and Fitness Program has already attracted more than 16,000 participants of all fitness levels from over 400 Atlanta companies — plus hundreds of individual participants. If you decide to take part, make sure to tag your photos to the event’s Facebook page.
To learn more about walking for fitness, visit kp.org.
In the Spotlight – Find out what’s happening in your area: