Walk for your Health

Walking is one of the easiest ways for you to be physically active. This post provides you with general tips on how to create and follow a walking plan. Walking is inexpensive, and you can walk almost anywhere and at any time. Walking may:
  • Give you more energy and stamina and lift your mood.
  • Tone your muscles and strengthen your bones.
  • Increase the number of calories your body uses.
  • Lower your risk of health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Give you an opportunity to actively socialize with friends and family.
Start walking now!
Leave time in your busy schedule to follow a walking program that will work for you. Keep the following points in mind:

  • Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner or group to walk with you. Encourage and support each other in committing to walking regularly even if each of you has a different fitness level or walks at a different pace.
  • Wear shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel, and thick flexible soles. They will cushion your feet and absorb shock. Before you buy new shoes, walk in them in the store.
  • Wear clothes that will keep you dry and comfortable. Put on fabrics that absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.
  • Divide your walk into three parts. Warm up slowly, then increase your speed to a brisk walk. This means walking fast enough to elevate your heart rate while still being able to speak comfortably, concentrate, and breathe without effort. Cool down slowly.
  • Stretch lightly after warm-up and cool-down.
  • Spread your walking evenly throughout the week. Try to walk at least 3 days each week if you cannot walk daily. Each week, add a few minutes to your walk.
  • Break up your walk into multiple sessions throughout the day if you have a busy schedule. Make sure each session is at least 10 minutes long. Some physical activity is better than none.
  • To avoid stiff or sore muscles and joints, start gradually. Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going further, and taking longer walks.
  • Set goals and reward yourself.
  • Keep track of your progress with a walking journal or log. Record date, time, and distance.
Experts recommend at least 150 minutes each week of moderate intentensity physical activity. Divide these minutes up over the week as your schedule allows. The more you walk, the more health benefits you may gain! Check out the sample walking program below to help you get started:


Are you getting enough Fiber?

Fiber is found only in plant foods - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. Experts suggest trying to get 30 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains give you anywhere from 2-8 grams of fiber per serving. One cup of beans or legumes give you 10 to 15 grams of fiber.

There are two main types of fiber:
  • Insoluble fiber helps move waste through your intestines. It helps give you regular bowel movements and is mostly found in dark leafy vegetables, fruits skins and root vegetable skins, and in seeds and nuts.
  • Soluble fiber helps you feel full longer. It lets sugar release and get into your system more slowly. This type of fiber can help lower your cholesterol levels. Of course, lower cholesterol reduces your risk for heart disease. It also helps regulate your blood sugar levels, important to people with diabetes. Soluble fiber can be found in many grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Benefits of fiber:
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Weight management
  • Intestinal health
  • Blood sugar control
  • Reduced cancer risk
High-Fiber Foods
  • Beans and other legumes
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grain cereals, breads, pasta and crackers
  • Citrus fruits
  • Dried fruit

Tips to Increase Fiber Intake

  • Try oatmeal with chopped apples and cinnamon (leave the skins on the apple)
  • Have all-bran cereal with fruit and nuts
  • Throw some garbanzo beans on your salad
  • Have lentil soup
  • Cooked veggies with rice or beans
  • Use whole wheat pasta in your favorite recipe
  • Try orange or grapefruit slices in your salad or yogurt
  • Add ground flaxseeds to yogurt, cottage cheese or a smoothie
  • Dried plums
  • Dried cranberries or cherries w/ yogurt
  • Trail mix using whole grain cereal, dried fruit and nuts


Start your Vegetable Garden

Growing your own garden is a fun challenge and there is nothing better than eating fresh vegetables. Check out some of the tips below to help you get started:

  • Pick the right site:
    • Sunlight-at least 6 hours/day for the growing season.
    • Water-the closer to a tap or hose the better.
    • Soil-something between rock-hard clay and soft sand. Soil is something that you can improve over time. A compost pile is one of the best and easiest ways to do this. Recycle kitchen and yard waste into rich organic matter that is good for any garden soil.
  • Start small, grow over time:
    • The smartest plan is to grow your garden slowly. Over time, you'll learn what works best in your location and what your family likes to eat. You can start with a few containers on a deck or patio. Small theme gardens are fun for everyone. Try a salad garden (lettuce and other greens, herbs, tiny tomatoes and maybe radishes) or a pizza garden (Roma tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, oregano and peppers).
  • Pick the right seeds or plants
    • Some vegetables grow well from seeds (carrots, radishes, beans and peas, for example). Others do best when you buy small plants (tomatoes, peppers and herbs). Most garden varieties will do just fine anywhere. For better luck, you may want to pick seeds for your specific region. You can also try heirloom varieties (like your grandmother used to grow), organic or open-pollinated.
  • Feed and water with care
    • During the growing season, your vegetable plants will need the right amount of water and the right balance of nutrients. Getting it right will depend on your soil and the weather. Too much or too little water or fertilizer can be a problem. The instructions on the seed packets or seedlings are a good place to start. You can also chat with a green-thumbed family member, friend, neighbor or Master Gardener.
  • Pick the fruits and vegetables of your labors
    • Planting, weeding and watering can be fun family activities. Picking your vegetables is the best part of the season. Fresh veggies can be so tasty that they never make it to the kitchen! Want to grow a winning garden from year to year? Keep a simple garden journal. It can help you remember what you planted, how well it grew, when you picked the vegetables and what your family liked eating the most.