April 4 marks National Walking Day

Published Mar 25, 2018 at 9:00am

The American Heart Association’s “Healthy for Good” initiative seeks to improve heart health by encouraging individuals to establish small lifestyle changes, including smart eating and more moving.

Physical activity is promoted through the AHA’s National Walking Day, which occurs on the first Wednesday of April each year. This event can be celebrated in any community by anyone — just get outside, enjoy the spring weather, and take a 30 minute walk.

Physical activity comes in many forms, including walking, running, biking, swimming, hiking, gardening, mowing the lawn, house work, and so much more. The recommendations for healthy older adults are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. This can be broken down as 30 minutes of activity, five days a week, or roughly 20 minutes every day.

However, if your schedule only permits physical activity some days of the week, you will receive the same health benefits if you are physically active for 50 minutes, three times a week. 

Why is it important to reach these physical activity guidelines for adults? Managing weight, decreasing risk of cardiovascular disease, improving mental health and mood, and preventing falls are just some of the great benefits of physical activity in older adults.

Along with decreasing your risk of Cardiovascular Disease and events such as heart attack and stroke, being physically active may also help prevent the occurrence of Type II Diabetes. When you commit to a lifestyle that fights off these diseases, the likelihood and onset of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar are greatly diminished, contributing to the efficiency of your heart muscle.

Another added perk to living a physically active life is slowing the process of bone loss. Unfortunately, as we age, bone loss is natural. However, getting the recommendations for physical activity will delay the onset and severity of osteoporosis. 

Using whatever method you prefer, get out there and be physically active. Take your dog out for a 30 minute walk after dinner, spend an afternoon exploring the beautiful trails of central New York, travel around the Erie Canal by bike, or when the weather gets warmer, go for a swim.

Start slow by gradually increasing your level of activity and remember that your body takes time to build stronger muscles. Be patient during this process and have confidence that your time spent being physically active is time well-spent.

If you have any chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, it is important to speak with your doctor to determine a physical activity plan that’s best suited to your needs and abilities.