By Dr. Sam Ho, chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare
As winter gives way to spring, some of us Colorado residents may be emerging from a state of “seasonal sedentary syndrome.” With National Walking Day (April 4) and April’s Move More Month, it’s time to lace-up those sneakers and start finding your stride.
Studies have shown walking more and sitting less may help people maintain a healthier weight, ward off depression and prevent serious health issues like heart disease. And a report from Harvard Medical School concluded that walking can help curb sweet cravings, boost the immune system and ease joint pain.
If you see runners while you're out moving and wonder if walking is a cop-out, rest assured that studies say no. Maintaining a quick walking pace has been shown to be on par with running when it comes to lowering the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
With that in mind, here are tips to consider to help you get out and walk more during April and year-round:
- Get a wearable device to track progress. They’ve been shown to help people remain diligent in achieving those daily step goals.
- Think FIT, which stands for frequency (500 steps within seven minutes six times per day), intensity (3,000 steps within 30 minutes each day) and tenacity (at least 10,000 total steps per day).
- Pair up with a walking pal. There are several advantages to recruiting a new workout friend, likely because that person can hold you accountable and offer support.
- Enlist a walking group at work or in your neighborhood. Working out in a group lowers stress by 26 percent and improves quality of life, as compared to working out alone.
- Check if your employer offers incentive-based wellness programs, as some plans may enable people to earn financial incentives by meeting walking goals.
- Keep your walks from getting boring by exploring a neighborhood trail or scenic pathway. This site has various walking resources and 10,000-step walking routes in more than 50 cities nationwide, including Denver, helping people visualize what that distance looks like in their local communities.
- Pledge to walk more at uhcwalkingmaps.com, and become eligible for a chance to win one of hundreds of walking-related prizes, including Apple Watch®. As part of the sweepstakes, UnitedHealthcare will donate a total of $25,000 on behalf of the first 25,000 people to sign the pledge to Boys & Girls Clubs to help reduce childhood obesity.
The American Heart Association established Move More Month to encourage people, schools, workplaces and communities to walk at least 30 minutes per day and take a step toward better health. Following these tips can help you do just that.