Monday, Oct 15th

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: :   Lifestyle Exercise Walking for Health

Walking for Health

The easiest and most convenient way to fit exercise into your day is to walk. If you're already jogging or running, you're ahead of the game. First get a comfortable pair of walking shoes and appropriate clothing, pick a time of day that regularly works for you, and start walking. If a friend joins you, all the better, since time will go by quickly while you clock off the distance together.HFN 012 Walking 1 33242382 If you want to really get fancy, purchase an inexpensive pedometer to keep track of distance (there are smart phone apps for this, too), and fill your iPod with your favorite upbeat tunes.

Depending on what part of the country you live in, there are outdoor-friendly seasons, while other times of the year are just too cold and icy or too hot for most of us to enjoy walking outside. If you don't have access to a gym or your own treadmill, shopping malls usually open their corridors to walkers in the hour or two before the retail stores open.

Listen to Your Body
Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of walking per day, and it doesn't have to be all at once. If you consider yourself already fit, see if your pace qualifies as "brisk" walking, which should cover at least a mile in 15 minutes. On a treadmill, that's a fairly vigorous speed of 4.0 mph. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines brisk walking as three or more mph, which equates to a 20-minute mile.

If you've been fairly sedentary and especially if you're overweight, start at a comfortable speed and gradually increase it over a few weeks until you reach a reasonably challenging speed for you. As with any physical activity, listen to your body's messages to you and you'll know when you're ready to kick it up a bit more. Most recently, exercise gurus have been recommending interval walking to enhance weight loss—for example, walk with exertion for one or two minutes, then slow down for a minute or two, and repeat until you've completed your walk time.

Think Exercise
Other ways to get those steps in: Park a walking distance from your destination (like a far corner of the supermarket's parking lot), take the stairs whenever possible, walk your dog, walk to a co-worker's office instead of emailing.
HFN 012 Walking 2 11274055In addition to walking, try mixing it up with hiking, biking, dancing, swimming, tennis, working with bar bells of various weights or elastic bands of differing resistances, other cardio machines (stair climber, elliptical, rowing), circuit training at a gym, or an exercise class or two.  Owning and using exercise CDs/DVD's will also keep you on your program.

Getting your heart rate up and working out those long muscles in your legs may not eliminate your hot flashes, and may even cause you to sweat, but exercising generally releases endorphins, the "happy" neurotransmitter that makes you feel good and helps relieve stress. So, empower yourself with this simple, healthy addition to your life, and tell those hot flashes you're in control and you're in for the duration. ♀

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