This week Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares tips about the benefits of walking. This is especially timely as Superintendent Dick Cvitanich has proclaimed October as International Walk to School Month in the Olympia School District.
Walking to improve your health
Something as simple as taking a daily walk can help you live a healthier life.
For example, walking can help you:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
Plan your routine
As you start walking, remember to:
- Choose the right shoes. Good shoes with proper support will make walking easier and more comfortable. Remember to plan for various types of weather. If you walk outdoors when it’s dark, think safety and wear bright colors and/or reflective tape for visibility.
- Choose your course. Outside is great, but if the weather isn’t appropriate for walking outside, consider walking in a shopping mall that offers open times for walking.
- Stretch. Remember to stretch before you walk to warm up and after you cool down, gently stretch your muscles.
- Set yourself up for success. Start simple, a goal of a 10-minute walk at first until it becomes a habit Then set new goals, such as 20 minutes after work. Find times to walk that works for your schedule.
- Make walking fun. If you don’t like walking alone, ask a friend, coworker or neighbor to join you. Maybe you might like listening to music while you walk.
- Vary your routine. If you walk outdoors, have several different routes planned for variety. If you decide to walk alone, be sure to tell someone which route you’re taking.
- Take missed days in stride. If you find yourself skipping a walk, don’t give up. Remember how good you feel when you get your exercise, and then get back on track.
Set realistic goals
As a goal, aim for at 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If that seems difficult then try several 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
Remember, it’s OK to start slow — if you haven’t been exercising regularly. You can start with five minutes a day and increase your time by a few minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes a day.
For proper walking technique, visit the Mayo Clinic! website.