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A Message from Dr. Stephen Kindred – Assistant Vice President, Corporate Medical
Since October is National Walking Month, I thought it was timely to discuss the benefits of walking and other types of physical activity. Whether you enjoy traditional forms of exercise like walking or you prefer to burn calories through dance or housework, physical activity is proven to improve both your physical and mental health.
Physical activity can help:
- Boost your mental wellness by relieving tension, anxiety, anger and depression
- Improve your physical wellness by:
- Strengthening your immune system and decreasing your risk of developing diseases
- Reducing your risk of high blood pressure
- Increasing your levels of good cholesterol or HDL
- Prolong your optimal life by gaining 2 hours of additional life expectancy for every hour of regular exercise
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise (or 75 minutes per week of rigorous activity). To make it simple, an easy goal to remember is 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Even if you have been inactive for years, any activity is better than none. However, if you have health concerns, be sure to visit with your physician to discuss a plan that is best for you.
Paula, Systems Analyst working virtually from the Columbia Operations Center, recently added participation in triathlons to her wellness plan. With the inspiration of family, support of friends from the Columbia Multisport Club and the help of a hired coach, Paula is rigorously training for the State Farm® Myrtle Beach Triathlon on October 8.
“My workouts are hard, but I’m getting faster and seeing progress,” says Paula. “Waking at 4:30 a.m. to swim, fitting in my workouts during the day and managing to eat supper before 8:00 p.m. remains difficult. Yet, working out with friends helps me a lot. It’s so much easier when you have other people to train with.”
For Paula, the decision to increase her physical activity was not about where she has been in the past, but where she wants to be in the future. “Over the past 24 years, I have watched my mother-in-law go from being an active person to one who is challenged by just trying to get around her house,” adds Paula. She refers to a picture of her mother-in-law from her younger years as a motivation to stay fit. “I’m not willing to give up being able to walk to the store, travel and get outside to enjoy myself. I’ve seen what can happen in just a few years if one doesn’t remain attentive to health issues and I don’t want it to happen to me.”
Although Paula chose a more challenging path to pursue her long-term wellness goals, you do not have to be a triathlete to introduce physical activity in your daily routine. There are many ways to exercise! Walking is one of the simplest and most cost-effective forms of exercise; however, several alternatives exist. The American Heart Association suggests these tips for adding or increasing physical activity to your wellness plan:
- At Home – work in the garden, mow the yard or rake leaves
- At the Office – Take the stairs or walk the escalator, bike to and from work or brainstorm project ideas while taking a walk
- At Play – take dancing lessons, join a recreational club or walk instead of taking a cart while golfing
Remember, it only takes 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five times a week to help you reach your goals. Take the first step to a healthier you and get your move on!
Consider becoming a member of a local fitness group in your community.
Got a smart device? Get walking paths on the go from the American Heart Association or visit your city or town government office for local walking trails.
Learn more about the benefits of physical activity by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
The American Cancer Society offers more tips for increasing physical activity and the affect it has on cancer prevention.
Visit the Let’s Move website to find out ways you can build community awareness about the importance of physical activity.