How many times have you joined a local gym, committed to go at least 3 times per week, and then ended up only making a few trips for the entire year? Or when is the last time you saw an intriguing fitness infomercial – Cross Fit, Insanity, Pure Core – and immediately ordered it on your credit card, but lost interest before you even got the first bill?
The truth of the matter is that only fitness enthusiasts – who comprise about 20% of the population – actually stick with these new fitness routines. The rest of us retire back to the couch and continue paying the bills for our latest fitness faux pas.
Well, we at US Family Health Plan, want you to keep the faith and know that the couch is not your only option. The U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral, Vivek H. Murphy, MD, MBA, recently suggested that the average American should start walking. Walking helps reduce and treat chronic illnesses that affect about half of all adult Americans. Moderate physical exercise helps prevent and reduce the severity of chronic disease, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Walking also improves mood, concentration and mobility.
And yes, walking — a form of exercise that is accessible to almost everyone – counts as moderate physical exercise according to the U.S. Health Department.
US Family Health Plan – a TRICARE PRIME Health Program – supports the 30-minute walk (for those 80% of you who are not practicing extreme workouts every day). Government guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise. This translates to a mere five 30-minutes walks in your favorite park per week.
The amazing health benefits of walking include improved body composition (higher muscle-to-fat ratio) and decreased risk for metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which together increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke).
You can easily measure how much walking you are doing each day by using a pedometer to measure your steps. Or you can even download a free pedometer app from your cell phone. Today’s magical number seems to be 10,000 steps. But after you put in a 30-minute walk, filling out the rest of the steps is easily accomplished through your regular routine (just check your pedometer for find out). Once you discover your favorite walking route, you will be able to quickly determine how many steps or miles your 30-minute walk entails and how you can fill in the rest of the day.
Walking is a lifestyle choice that provides amazing health side benefits. It allows you to connect with nature and practice mindfulness. A walk can also allow you a chance to quietly plan out your day without phones ringing or people tugging for your attention. This is real YOU time.
You will quickly see how to integrate a daily walk into your routine. As make this a regular practice, you can start to enhance the workout value by tackling hills and inclines, carrying small weights, or speeding up your pace. And nothing beats a good stretch before and after a long walk, along with a refreshing drink of water to stay hydrated.
Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, once said “Walking is man’s best medicine”. We at US Family Health Plan second that statement! Over time the long term benefits of walking – healthy weight loss, mindfulness, improved cardiovascular activity and more energy are gained for the price of a good pair of walking shoes! 80 percenters, walk on!