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Posts Tagged ‘mind and body’

Winter is finally loosening its noose on the weather at my house.  I’ve actually gotten to walk twice in shorts during the last 10 days.  Nothing feels better than bare legs after a long winter.  It’s so exciting to think of all the walks ahead of me that I won’t need a coat, gloves, scarf and a hat.  I love spring and I love walking in spring.  Here’s why:

  • I know that even if the weather isn’t perfect today, a sunny and warm day is never far away like it was in January
  • I love to look at the wild flowers and flowering trees
  • I love to hear the birds sing their hearts out
  • I love to watch the new tree buds slowly unfurl into bright green leaves
  • I love to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin
  • I love the minimalist walking wardrobe of warmer weather
  • I love to people and dog watch while I am walking at the park
  • I love to feel the warm breeze on my skin
  • I love to walk the dog in the light of day after work instead of in the cold and dark of winter
  • I love that I am always motivated to walk outside on a beautiful Spring day

If the spring weather is motivating you to take a walk don’t forget to put on sunscreen and bring extra water for you and any children or dogs that are walking with you.  It’s also a good idea to keep an umbrella handy in case of unexpected spring showers.  Also, don’t put the gloves and hat away just yet.  Keep some cold weather wear in the car or work so you won’t skip a walk if the weather turns blustery.  Last, check out your local and state park spring activities calendars which will be filling up with nature hikes, wildflower hikes and educational activities for you and your children.

What do you love about spring walking? Will you be walking more frequently or taking longer walks now that we have longer daylight hours?  Has spring come to your house yet? 

Next Post:  Is Trying to Get Fit Stressing You Out?

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A 2008 study conducted by Western Washington University psychology professor Ira Hyman found that 75 % of walkers who were talking on a cell phone did not see the colorfully dressed clown riding a unicycle in the same open plaza that they were walking through. 

This study followed a related study by Hyman that reported that walking cell phone users were more distracted than those walking and listening to music devices, those walking in pairs or those walking alone.  Furthermore the study reported that walking cell phone users were slow and zigzagging as they walked.  Professor Hyman considered whether “they had a harder time walking because they were not as plugged into the world around them.” (1)    

Do you frequently walk while talking on your cell phone?  In our busy lives we often try to multi-task by walking and making calls to a spouse, friend, family member or work associate.  The problem is that talking on a cell phone while walking can prevent you from receiving many of the benefits that daily walking has to offer. 

Downsides of Multi-Tasking 

Have you ever noticed that if you are talking on your cell phone while walking once your route is done you have no recollection of actually ‘being there? 

Professor Hyman’s study reports that the walking / phone talking combo results in slower, less purposeful walking.  If you are walking slower than normal, then you are short-changing your heart and lungs from the aerobic health benefits that walking offers.  

Talking on the phone while walking might prevent the stress reduction benefits that come from walking and it may increase your stress levels if you are having a dreaded or confrontational call or you are talking to someone who frequently bombards you with their stressful life. 

Walking and talking on the phone doesn’t allow for a mind time-out.  My favorite part of walking is letting my thoughts roam free to day dream.  Its amazing how your brain will problem-solve or come up with great ideas for home or work when you give yourself some time for random thought. 

If you are talking on the phone while walking outside you probably aren’t appreciating the emergence of spring flowers, how the buds are plumping up on the trees, how fast the clouds are moving across the sky or all of the interesting characters you see walking down a city sidewalk.  You are not experiencing your surroundings – you are not present in the moment. 

Let’s face it; if the subjects in the study didn’t see a flamboyantly dressed clown while talking on the phone, it is safe to say that you won’t notice someone who could be a threat to you because they can tell you aren’t paying attention. 

How to Free Your Daily Walk from the Phone 

Now that you know how much you are short-changing yourself from daily walking benefits by using your cell phone while walking what can you do to stop? 

Try to leave your phone at home, at your desk or in the car.  If you feel safe and/or there are other people that could assist you in an emergency where you walk, try to leave the phone behind.  Do you really have to be available during the time that you will be walking?  Liberate yourself from the phone.  Enjoy the freedom. 

Screen your calls and only answer ‘emergency’ calls.  If you feel safer keeping your phone with you during your daily walk try to not answer incoming calls.  Let voice mail pick up the call.  Put the phone on ‘silent.’  If you must answer the call keep the call short or tell the caller you will have to call back. 

Make calls only during your ‘cool-down.’  If you absolutely have to make a call try to call only during the last few minutes of your walk….during the cool-down.  This practice will allow you to reap the benefits of walking during the majority of your walk time but you will also have a few minutes to make a call when you are already walking slowly. 

Daily walking can be one of the best things you do for yourself all day.  If you use your walking time to talk on a cell phone you are missing out on many of the benefits that can keep us motivated to walk every day, no matter what.  Don’t short change yourself or your daily walking routine.  Embrace all of the benefits that daily walking can bring to your life…kick the phone habit and give your mind a break. 

Have you walked today?  Do you frequently talk on the phone while you walk?  Keep in touch by clicking the comments link below.

(1)  Relyea, Kie.  “Clown Passes Unnoticed by Cell Phone Users.”  The Tennessean 26, November 2009:  22A.

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Can you figure out from the clues below the one activity that can change your life?

  1. All you need to start is a pair of athletic shoes.
  2. This activity will help you sleep better.
  3. You can choose to go solo, grab a partner or join a group while doing this activity.
  4. It requires no training or classes.
  5. It can lower your cholesterollower your blood pressure, lower/maintain your weight, and lower your risk for cancers.
  6. This activity can bring you closer to nature.
  7. This activity will improve your emotional well-being.
  8. You can include your family, your friends and/or your dog during this activity.
  9. It can improve the health of your heart.
  10. It can be done almost anywhere and at any time of day.
  11. It can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes.
  12. It can improve your flexibility and balance.
  13. It should be done in at least 10 minute increments – 30 minutes/day.
  14. This activity can be done for a lifetime.

Did you guess walking?

It’s hard to believe that something we’ve all been doing since about the age of 2 can be the solution to many of the physical and mental health risks that we often face in a modern society.

Our bodies are built to walk and by simply increasing the amount of time that you walk each day, you can change your life by improving your physical and mental health.

Is Walking Right for Me?

Maybe it has been a while since you’ve been active or maybe you are thinking of joining a health club.  You may be wondering if you have the time to walk or if walking will really help you reach your goals.  You might be questioning if walking is really the right fitness routine for you?   If so, scroll down to answer the following questions.

  • Do I want a fitness routine that can be started for the cost of a pair of shoes?
  • Can I commit to a physical activity, do it in at least 10 minute increments and work towards 30 minutes a day?
  • Do I want to exercise with my family, my friends or my dog?
  • Do I want an exercise routine that can bring me closer to nature?
  • Do I want an exercise routine that lets me choose to go solo, grab a partner or exercise in a group?
  • Do I want a fitness activity that requires no training or classes and that can be done almost anywhere and at any time of day?
  • Do I want to improve my flexibility and balance?
  • Do I want a fitness routine that can lower my cholesterol, lower my blood pressure, lower my risk for cancers and lower or maintain my weight?
  • Do I want a fitness routine that can improve the health of my heart, prevent osteoporosis, and prevent Type 2 diabetes?
  • Do I want an exercise program that will help my emotional well-being, help me problem-solve and help me manage life’s daily stresses?
  • Do I want to start a daily fitness activity that I can do for a lifetime?
  • Do I want to sleep better?

Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions above?  If so, I encourage you to locate your sneakers and some weather appropriate clothing and take a walk today!  If you’re a new walker, take a 10 minute walk at a pace that’s a little faster than normal*.  If you are already walking regularly, add 10 minutes to your normal walk time or try to walk faster during some or most of your walk.  When you’re done, give yourself a big pat on the back – you are changing your life for the better by walking.

*The American Heart Association recommends that doctors “screen all patients with a history  of cardiovascular disease or who are at high risk of a heart attack or stroke before they start a vigorous exercise program.  People who are obese, have diabetes or other serious medical problems, or who have been sedentary for a long time should talk to their doctor before starting any exercise program.”

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