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February Exercise of the Month: Tips For Getting Your Steps In

Kayla Thompson, MS, ACSM-EP

Walking is one of the simplest and most underrated activities for exercise. When someone mentions the word exercise to you, what comes to mind? Is it countless hours in the gym? Does it bring a shiver down your spine? Do you immediately zone out? Exercise can look like spending hours in the gym, but it can also look like making the effort to walk for ten minutes after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walking can help you maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat, improve your mood, cognition, memory, and sleep, reduce stress and tension, improve cardiovascular fitness, increase energy levels, and strengthen your immune system.

Walking can do all of this and more, if you are willing to give it a try. The other great news is that it can be done anywhere! Walking requires no great investment or equipment, unless you want to track your steps.

If you have a means to track your steps, the best method to do this is by getting a baseline step count. You have to know where you are starting, so you can know where you want to improve. Spend a week getting your average step count and build a plan from there. If you do not have the means to track your steps via a pedometer, smart watch, or smart phone, don’t fret! Begin with time spent. Start tracking your minutes walked on a daily basis. You can start with ten minutes a day and build up your walking minutes from there.

There are a few things to note as you start your walking journey. First, walk with wisdom! Be aware of your surroundings and/or walk with a friend, especially when it’s dark out. Second, better health is a marathon, not a sprint. Listen to your body and make progress as you can. Third, watch the weather! Plan ahead in anticipation of changing or adverse weather conditions.

Getting in more steps can be fun and simple. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Try parking farther away from the entrance to your work or the store (with the aforementioned safety in mind). Make the effort to get up from your desk every hour and walk for a few minutes. Walk down to grab lunch at a local spot near your office. Wake up ten minutes earlier to get in a walk before the day starts. Make a goal to walk for a certain amount of time after every meal. Walk laps at your local mall or another indoor area if the weather is bad.

Find a friend and make it a challenge with a friendly wager to see who can walk the most steps in two weeks or in a month. Get your coworkers involved in a step goal. If you have a meeting at work, see if it can be done while walking. Ask your employer if an incentive program can be started based on getting more steps. Have fun with it, and know each step is an opportunity for better health!

Kayla Thompson is a diabetes care navigator at the HopeHealth Medical Plaza in Florence and a certified exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. She has a Master of Science in clinical exercise science.

 


HopeHealth

HopeHealth

HopeHealth educates its patients on the importance of having a health care home. As a primary care facility, HopeHealth’s medical team works to prevent and detect illness and the early onset of disease, provide routine physical examinations and promote overall healthy lifestyles.

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