Monday, April 06, 2015


Walking every day can keep the doctor away

Last Wednesday was proclaimed “National Walking Day” by the American Heart Association.  It’s a day when we are all encouraged to lace up our sneakers, get up and walk for at least 30 minutes.
Walking is still considered the best exercise to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  Experts recommend 2½ hours per week of moderate exercise, and brisk walking counts. It can be in short bursts of 10 minutes at a time, adding up to a half hour in a day.   It’s free, easy, and readily available.  The only equipment required is a good pair of supportive sneakers.  After the brutal winter we have all experienced in New England, it’s liberating to get out and notice the emerging spring bulbs and buds on the trees.  Or look for the first real sign of spring – the robin.
If you have been a real couch potato lately, it’s good to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. 
•  Start slow by setting a short-term goal.  For example, walk for 5-10 minutes the first day, or 300 steps per day.   Then increase walking time by 5 minutes every other day.
•  Then set a long-term goal of 30 minutes a day, or 10,000 steps, 5 days a week.  10,000 steps is equivalent to about 5 miles.  
•  You can wear a pedometer to track your steps each day.
•  To stay motivated, find a walking partner, such as a family member, co-worker, or friend. If you schedule this daily walk, you are less likely to skip it, not wanting to disappoint your walking partner.  
•  Stay hydrated.  Keep a refillable bottle of water with you and take a few sips every few minutes.
And we don’t need to wait for next year’s proclamation:  Let’s make every day “National Walking Day.”  
Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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