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January 12, 2016

A Healthy Step in the Right Direction

It’s January and nearly everyone makes a resolution to exercise more, lose weight or get in better health. Now that we’re a couple weeks in, it’s likely that those resolutions made on Jan. 1 may not have turned out as planned. Don’t worry. It’s never too late to start exercising. Most resolutions fail because people have big plans, but when it comes to exercise I prefer something simple that works wonders – walking.

It’s January and nearly everyone makes a resolution to exercise more, lose weight or get in better health. Now that we’re a couple weeks in, it’s likely that those resolutions made on Jan. 1 may not have turned out as planned. Don’t worry. It’s never too late to start exercising. Most resolutions fail because people have big plans, but when it comes to exercise I prefer something simple that works wonders – walking.

Walking is a simple and effective exercise that anyone can do. It also doesn’t require much equipment besides a good pair of shoes. Walking can help people lose or maintain their weight, strengthen bones, prevent or manage health conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, improve your mood and improve your balance and coordination. Walking can do all of that.

What I like about walking is that it’s simple – just put one foot in front of the other. You can also do it anywhere – around the neighborhood if the weather is nice or inside at a mall or local fitness center.

Aim to walk 30 minutes a day several times a week. If you don’t have 30 continuous minutes, don’t worry – then try for three 10 minute breaks. Go for a walk over the lunch hour, at break time and after dinner. We all have 10 minutes here and there that we can use. If you don’t have the stamina to walk for 30 minutes, go with what you’re able to do and build from there.

Making the activity enjoyable is key to sticking with any exercise routine, even walking. Team up with a co-worker or friend for a daily walk and use it as a chance to catch up. Another option is to listen to some favorite music or use the time to enjoy the silence and meditate or pray.

Mixing up your route is another way to keep your exercise routine from getting dull. Try a new route, even if you walk your regular route in reverse. Another great thing to do with walking is tying it to an errand. Do you need to go to the post office? Walk there instead. Do you have to go a few different places downtown? Park in a central location and walk. These are all little ways you can incorporate more activity and exercise in your day.

I enjoy walking because it’s an easy activity anyone can do and you can do it anywhere. I find walking and other kinds of exercise to be great stress relievers. We all have 10 minutes here and there during our day to squeeze in a few walks. All of those steps can add up to big health changes.

Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner and associate medical director at ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert. He can be reached at scott.schuldes@thedacare.org.