Win with Workplace Wellness

One way to improve our overall health is to be physically active on a regular basis. It is crucial for healthy aging, reduces risk of chronic diseases, improves mental health, and strengthens bones and muscles. Most Americans who work full-time are spending at least eight hours a day at their worksite, and most of that time is spent at a computer or desk. Here are five tips for increasing physical activity during the workday:

  • Take short 3- to 5-minute breaks every hour to get up and walk around your worksite.
  • Find your favorite exercise video from Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, before or after lunch.
  • Invest in a standing desk or “treadmill desk” to increase standing or walking throughout the day.
  • Try stretches while sitting at your desk—such as chair squats, arm and elbow stretches, sit up and stretches, and overhead presses.
  • Find a colleague to walk with during your lunch hour. This can improve social and physical well-being.

Sources:
CDC, www.cdc.gov
New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, njaes.rutgers.edu
Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu

Find Your Movement Motivation

Walking on path

Starting a physical activity routine and sticking to it can be challenging. Finding the motivation to stay active is key.

Most results of exercise are not instantaneous, so set realistic goals. Start small and gradually increase to 30 minutes of exercise five days per week. People keep exercising because they have found something they enjoy. If exercise feels like a chore, it can hold you back from accomplishing your exercise goals.

People who are physically active tend to live longer, healthier lives. Research shows moderate physical activity—such as 30 minutes a day of brisk walking—significantly contributes to longevity. Always consult with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

Source:
American College of Sports Medicine, go.iastate.edu/M4SDGB

Walk with Ease: A Program for Better Living

Tying walking shoes

A team at Iowa State University (ISU) is leading the statewide rollout of Walk with Ease (WWE). It is an evidence-based program to help older adults establish healthy patterns of physical activity. The ISU team is currently inviting adults over the age of 60 to take part in an enhanced version of the virtual, self-directed WWE program. This includes access to an online portal as well as personalized support to help older adults incorporate more steps into their daily lives. All programming, including a guidebook, is free for those willing to provide feedback on the enhancements. For more information and to enroll in the program, visit Walk with Ease, www.walkwitheaseisu.org.

Sources: Walk with Ease at Iowa State University, www.walkwitheaseisu.org.

Creek Walking

Creek with water and rocks

Looking for a way to keep cool this summer? Try creek walking! It’s a great way to enjoy nature with family and friends, get a little exercise, and experience the outdoors. You don’t need much equipment to creek walk, just a pair of dirty tennis shoes or water socks to protect your feet.

Walking in the creek allows you to explore wildlife and native plants; find a fossil, bone, or antler; and leave the video games at home. Any stream can be unpredictable at times, so walk in the water when you can see the stream floor. Pack drinking water and snacks if you plan to walk a longer stretch. Towels and a change of clothes will provide a dry ride home. If walking alone, let someone know where and when you are going.

Find walking trails at Iowa Walking Trails and Maps, www.traillink.com.

Source: Iowa Department of Natural Resources, www.iowadnr.gov.

Take a Walk in the Park

Did you know Iowa has more than 70 state parks? Iowa State Parks celebrated their centennial in 2020. Didn’t make it to the celebration? That’s okay! The Iowa Department of Natural Resources still has “20 Walks in 2020” mapped routes, www.iowadnr.gov, to help you explore 20 of Iowa’s state parks. These routes are ideal for one or a small group or family.

Iowa By Trail is an app providing interactive maps for 2,000+ miles of Iowa trails. Users can fnd the closest trail to their current position. The app also provides other points of interest along the route, including museums, natural resources, and local restaurants.

What are you waiting for? Get out and walk or bike the trails this summer! You can also enjoy these other activities in Iowa parks:

  • Horseback riding
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Fishing

Sources: 20 Walks in 2020, iowadnr.gov; Iowa by Trail, inhf.org

Walk Abouts

We have heard a lot about the benefits of walking, but sometimes it seems boring to walk the same route all the time. There are ways to make it more interesting for everyone. Examples include the following:

  • Research community history and explore it on a walk.
  • Have you wondered about an interesting house or building in your community? Check with your local public library; they may have information about community history.
  • Another idea is to listen to a podcast or an audiobook on your walk. There are many interesting podcasts—some are educational, inspiring, or entertaining. Audiobooks are also available through most public library apps, including Libby and Overdrive, as well as paid services.

Keep these safety tips in mind when walking:

  • Let someone know where you are going.
  • Take a cell phone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Take a walking buddy for companionship.
  • Keep the volume of your headphones at a reasonable level so you can hear others, cars, etc.

Safe Walking on Snow and Ice

Walking in snow

Winter wind, snow, and ice can be scary to walkers. Even a short stroll is hard. Strong winds and icy sidewalks can make you fall and freeze your nose.

How to enjoy good winter walks without getting hurt:

  • Check the wind chill before you go outside. It should be more than 10°F. You can get frostbite in 30 minutes when the windchill is -18°F!
  • Equip yourself for the weather. Bundle up. Bulky clothing could break a fall.Walking poles help gain traction on snowy ground.You can wear shoes with studded soles or boots with grooved soles. You could buy elastic slip-on snow cleats. They are like snow tires for your feet! (Take the cleats off when you go inside. They can make you slip on inside floors.)

Watch the video 5 Ways to Walk Safely in Icy Weather for more tips, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/video/icy-weather-safety-tips

Sources:
WebMD, www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/weatherproof-your-workout#1 National Weather Service, www.weather.gov/bou/windchill

Health Benefits of Walking

Fewer than 50% of Americans meet the minimum guidelines for moderate physical activity. Walking is the easiest and most affordable way to correct this problem. Walking can be done anywhere; all you need is shoes. Walking can be done easily and has huge benefits. Walking can be done by taking short breaks during the day; it doesn’t have to be one long walk. For example, three 10-minute walks during the day will count as 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for the day. Keep your pace brisk (3 miles per hour) to meet the moderate physical activity recommendations. Take your first step today!

Visit the Healthiest State Initiative (iowahealthieststate.com/5210) for more information.

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