The American Heart Association (AHA) takes advantage of this time each year by marking the first Wednesday in April as National Walking Day. The AHA began National Walking Day in 2007, and since then has used this day to raise awareness about the health benefits of walking.
To celebrate this day, the AHA encourages you to spend at least 30 minutes each day being active. They suggest a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which comes out to about 30 minutes five times a week. For some of us, this may be easier said than done. Between work, school, and family obligations, it can be difficult to find this time. However, it is important to remember that physical activity is an integral part of self-care and an overall healthy lifestyle.
Benefits of Walking
There are many reasons why walking is excellent for your health. Various research has shown that the recommended 30 minutes of walking each day can have many positive effects on heart health. These include improving blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and blood lipid profiles (cholesterol and triglycerides).
On top of benefiting your heart, physical activity lowers stress, increases your mental clarity and overall improves well-being. Moving frequently also keeps your body strong by enhancing muscle tone and strengthening bones.
6 Ways to Get Moving
If you are someone that finds it difficult to devote time each day to exercise, don’t fret! There are many ways you can “sneak” in being active without taking time away from your daily tasks.
- When you go grocery-shopping, aim to park your car further away from the store to get in some extra steps. You can also go down an extra few aisles or take an extra lap around the store to add in a few more minutes of exercise!
- Opt for the stairs to improve endurance! It’s also quicker than waiting for the elevator, so you may find you get to your destination quicker!
- Take your children (or dog) to a park to run and play outside. By getting them involved in National Walking Day, you can help create healthy lifestyle habits at a young age.
- Call a friend or family member to go for a walk with you or to talk on the phone with you while you walk. You’ll be amazed at how quickly 30 minutes can fly by when you have someone by your side.
- Spend most of your days at a desk? Aim to take multiple small breaks throughout the day to help you get active. Set a timer on your phone or computer to get up and go for a walk around the office or house once every hour. Not only will this help you to stay moving, but it can also clear your head as well and actually improve your focus!
- Looking for something fun to do with friends on the weekend? Consider doing an activity together like hiking, bowling, or roller-skating.
Whichever type of physical activity you choose to do, make sure it is fun and enjoyable! Don’t forget to stretch before and after to avoid tight muscles, and drink plenty of water.
Setting small, attainable activity goals is a great way to help stay on track and maintain motivation!
Your Turn to Take Action: How will you incorporate a walking or physical activity into your daily routine? Let me know in the comments section below!