Healthy Strides

picture of women walking on a city streetCheck out the walking maps. You can start anywhere on these paths or make up your own. Grab a co-worker or get going on your own to experience the benefits of walking! Start a walking group. Set a day and time with your co-workers or the people in your building to take a walk break each week.

Walking Meditation

Add meditation to your walk!  Walking is one of the best ways to improve your health and decrease your stress and yet you can increase the benefits by simply focusing your thoughts on  your physical sensations.

So much of our time is caught up thinking about past or future, planning or worrying.  While you walk try instead to pay attention to your body; focus on deep breathing, the breeze on your skin, relaxing your muscles or the swing back and forth of your arms. If you notice your thoughts running away, try gently to refocus your attention on your physical experience. Studies show that each time you bring your attention back you are creating new neural pathways.

Walking Tips and Information

Walking Safety Tips

  • At night wear light colored clothing and reflective materials, carry a flashlight, and stay in well-lit areas.
  • Choose a route that is made up of sidewalks or trails.
  • If you are walking on a road without a sidewalk or walking path, always face oncoming traffic and remain as far off the road as possible.
  • Always walk in a single file when you’re on a narrow street.
  • Don’t wear headphones or talk on a mobile phone while crossing the street.
  • Use the buddy system whenever possible and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Source: Walking Safely and UT RecSports.

Fitting physical activity into your schedule

Choose a time of day that works best for your schedule. Any type and amount of activity will count towards the 30 minutes of activity recommended by the surgeon general to achieve general health benefits. Here are some tips to help you accomplish 30-60 minutes of daily activity:

  • Take a quick 10 minute walk break as your schedule and supervisor allow.
  • Add more steps into your day by taking the stairs or parking further away.
  • Walk or bike one trip a day that you would normally drive.
  • Walk with a friend or take a family walk after dinner.
  • Walk your child to school or participate in a Walk to School Day event.
  • Take a walking meeting at work.
  • Keep a daily activity log. Estimate the mileage you walked or the minutes you spent being active.
  • Buy a pedometer and wear it daily to track your step counts.
  • Form a walking group with a regular schedule.

Sample 12-week walking schedule for beginners.

Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.

How long and how often should I walk?

  • If you are walking for the general health benefits try to walk 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, at a “talking” pace. (You may be breathing harder than usual, but are able to hold a conversation.)
  • If you are walking to improve cardiovascular fitness you should walk three to four days a week, 20 to 30 minutes at a very fast pace. (At this pace you are breathing hard but not gasping for air.)
  • If you are walking for weight loss you should walk a minimum of five days a week, 45 to 60 minutes at a quick pace.

Source: Walking Benefits | Walking Goals

Step Count Goals with a Pedometer

A pedometer provides feedback about your daily activity by tracking the number of steps you take. Use these tips from the Mayo Clinic to make the most out of using a pedometer:

  • Establish your baseline steps. After you get a pedometer, wear it for three straight days. Add up the total number of steps for each of the three days and then divide that total by three. This will provide a baseline number of steps or your average number of steps, that can help you establish your step count goals
  • Set short-term step goals. Once you have your baseline step count, you can set short-term step count goals using your pedometer. Set a short-term goal of adding on another 500 to 1,000 steps a day for a week. When you meet that goal, increase the step count by another 500 to 1,000 steps per day for the next week.
  • Set long-term step goals. Your short-term goals will help move you closer to reaching your long-term goals. A long-term goal may be walking 10,000 steps a day, or about five miles (eight kilometers), several times a week as part of your new daily routine. You may also want to set a goal of walking faster as your fitness level improves.
  • Track your progress. You may have a pedometer that will save your daily step count information. If not, you can keep a written log of your activity. Tracking your progress will help you determine when it is time to increase your step counts and/or change your goals.

Source: MayoClinic

Walking Program Resources

Walking and Physical Activity Resources around Austin