New Study Finds Immediate Mood Boost After Lunchtime Walk

For office workers dealing with the inevitable afternoon slump, exercise might be the last thing on their minds. But a brief 30-minute lunchtime walk may be more effective than we previously thought for crushing those mid-day blues and handling work stress. At least that’s what researchers from numerous universities including the University of Birmingham report in a new study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports (January, 2015).

The study looked at the immediate benefits of exercise as opposed to the long-term effects of a day-in, day-out fitness routine. Participants volunteered to commit just 30 minutes to walking during their lunch hour three times per week. Tests were conducted before the program began to assess participants’ baseline health, fitness level, and mood. All 56 volunteers, primarily middle-aged women, were deemed out of shape yet emotionally and physically healthy. Using a phone app, researchers were able to gauge immediate mood fluctuations, which offered a more accurate benchmark than other studies relying on participant recall.

The first group walked self-paced with no required speed or distance. The second, or control, group did not walk for the first 10 weeks. Volunteers met three times per week. Responses were notably different between the two groups, with those who walked during lunch reporting more enthusiasm, improved relaxation, reduced tension, and an increased ability to cope. Other health measures including aerobic fitness levels had improved for all participants after they had walked for just 10 weeks.

Though work productivity was not measured as part of this study, Dr. Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani, the study’s lead author, noted: “there is now quite strong research evidence that feeling more positive and enthusiastic at work is very important to productivity.”

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A Podcast a Day Might Keep the Doctor Away

The podcast. It can help you learn Spanish, catch you up on “This American Life”, and fuel your already fanatical knowledge about major league baseball. But for those who believe that time flies when you’re having fun, the podcast can also offer the motivation needed to accumulate more than your daily dose of steps in a snap.

Podcasts are audio programs that can be easily downloaded to your portable media player or smartphone, with topics that range from full-length novels to political commentary shows, comedy skits, mysteries, fitness tips, educational lectures, how-tos – even old time radio shows. The best part: they’re absolutely free.

The only caveat is that, once you’re hooked, you may want a larger device to keep all of those downloaded broadcasts for future reference. But Apple does provide the option to stream or erase episodes just in case you’re not inclined to listen to the How to Make the Perfect Christmas Ham podcast every time December rolls around.

Podcasts are easily accessed from any iPad, iPod, iPhone, or Android phone. From your computer, you’ll need to download the iTunes application. From a mobile device or tablet, you’ll need to download the Podcasts App for iOS or a podcast player for Android through the PlayStore. Once you have the right application, simply browse all categories or scroll through the most popular.

To download a podcast on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone:

1. Download the Podcasts App.

2. Open the Podcasts App.

3. Browse or search for a podcast.

4. Click or tap the podcast to view full details.

5. Click or tap the individual episode you’d like to play.

To download a podcast on your Android:

1. Visit the PlayStore on your Android phone to download a podcast player app. Pocket Casts and Podcast Addict are two popular options.

2. Open your podcast player app.

3. Browse or search for a podcast.

4. Click or tap the podcast to view full details.

5. Click or tap the individual episode you’d like to play.

To download a podcast to your classic iPod, PC, or Mac computer:

1. Open iTunes.

2. From the top menu bar, click View and then Podcasts.

3. Toggle the top sub-menu from My Podcasts to iTunes Store.

4. Browse or search for a podcast.

5. Click the podcast to view full details, then click the individual episode you’d like to play or download.

6. Sync your iPod with your PC or Mac to listen anytime and anywhere.

If you’re on a continuous Internet connection, streaming can help you save space. Download an episode if your Internet connection is unreliable or if you’d like to play it offline. Subscribing to a podcast will automatically download new episodes as they’re published.

So the next time you slip on your walking shoes, make sure your smartphone or media player is queued-up with all of your favorite podcasts. That way, in addition to skyrocketing your health, you can also simultaneously get your daily dose of global news, economics, and brain food. You might also become trilingual. Who knows? There’s nothing stopping you, now.

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Sit Less Often to Reduce Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels

Sit Less Often To Reduce Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels

Even if you exercise regularly at the gym or on your at-home weight bench, sitting for prolonged periods of time can still lead to increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels, concludes a new study published July 31 in the European Heart Journal.

The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study used activity monitors to track the length of time 789 participants spent sitting or lying down, standing, walking, and running during their day. Monitors were worn and data was compiled for a full seven days – 24 hours a day. They were also measured for vital statistics including blood pressure, height, weight, and waist circumference. Blood samples were also taken. Participants included both men and women ranging in age from 36 to 80.

Researchers discovered that substituting just two hours of sitting with standing per day was associated with a reduction of average triglycerides by 11 percent and a two percent reduction in blood sugar levels. A drop in bad cholesterol, or LDL and an increase in good cholesterol, or HDL, was also associated with increased standing vs. sitting.

Lead author, senior research fellow at the University of Queensland in Herston Genevieve Healy, said that merely substituting some sitting time with standing could benefit your heart, blood sugar levels, fats in the blood and cholesterol levels – even your metabolism. In fact, two hours of walking or running instead of sitting was also associated with an approximate three-inch decrease in waist size and an 11 percent decrease in average body mass.

So even if you play by the rules with a dedicated strength training and cardio routine, be mindful of your activities during the hours in-between. Avoid long periods of sitting by walking or standing whenever possible to break-up long sedentary stretches.

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The Anatomy of Walking

We all know that walking can have great benefits when it comes to your health and fitness.  Here’s a cool infographic from Everybody Walk! The Movement to Get America Moving.

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Taking Steps for Holidays, Health and Humor

by Clarissa Mayse, Social Media Director, Walkingspree

It’s Cyber Monday and people everywhere are recovering from Black Friday and the holiday weekend in the United States. This week’s “Move!”will focus on ways to increase your steps during the holidays. Take a moment to strap on your wearable fitness device and think of all the ways you can be active during the holidays.  Just take 5 minutes out of your life to jot them down. It could be the beginning of a lifelong habit that increases your life span, improves your health, triggers that weight loss you’ve been wanting to work on for the last few years, improves your focus, heart health and beyond.

Mall and Store Walking.  Be Intentional.

The holidays are a busier time than usual.  Parents are walking a lot more while looking for Christmas gifts.  Often this means visiting multiple toy and game stores.  If you aren’t searching for children’s gifts, you’re traipsing through the mall with your friends after work in the evenings.  This means extra steps. Take the time to be intentional about noticing your steps taken. If it’s more than you’ve taken in some time, stop and really FOCUS on how cool that is! It’s a big deal. This is your health. This is your personal wellbeing. Notice your small steps because they lead to big accomplishments.

Make Standing in Line Fun and Funny

It’s possible you are the person who stands in lines for hours before stores open to make sure you get that ONE thing for your loved one. March or jog in place. If you are with a friend, take turns walking in circles around each other. You’ll log more steps, you’ll laugh and make memories. Especially if you get dizzy and trip. So, be careful!

Ways to Log Your Steps if You Hate Shopping

Yes, it’s true. There are those of us who do not like the malls. We aren’t Scrooge. Still, overfilled parking lots and insane drivers cause us to say more than just “Bah, Humbug!”  Throngs of people shoving to get somewhere, crazy traffic, and long lines make us want to run screaming from the store while we pull our hair and froth at the mouth. We do not get all happy at the thought of being a new type of “first responders.”  You know who they are: the people who get there first so they can video other people pulling each other’s hair and slugging each other in the nose on Black Friday. Let it be said; we hope the police Taser everyone stupid enough to go shopping on Black Friday. Alrighty then… we should be excused from extra walking, right? Guess what? You may think that because you go shopping on Amazon, Groupon, and various online stores to avoid the craziness, there’s no need to strap on your fitness wearable. Think again. Don’t be tempted to sit down when you could be working on your wellness in such an easy way. Take your iPad, tablet or laptop to the gym and put it on the treadmill or elliptical while you browse those stores. You’ll save money when you put your ideas on hold until you get finished walking and come up with better ones while you think. Trust us, this works!

Other ways to get more steps in…

Don’t Fight for a Parking Spot

That’s right. I know it goes against the grain but just give up the fight for that prime parking spot and go to the back of the parking lot and walk. You’ll get more steps and spend less time in the parking lot, less time in the stores.  Plus, if it’s cold outside, you’ll probably burn more calories because you’ll walk faster.

Grocery Store Cover Ops

Don’t forget, you still have to go to the grocery store for holiday meals.  You’ll probably have to do some fancy moves with the grocery cart to cut that other lady off before she gets to that empty check out line before you – that’s an extra 30 steps right there! And don’t forget, you and your bags will have to play human “Frogger” to get to your vehicle once you’re out the door.  Crazy drivers will be vying for your parking place so be careful out there.

Lose Your Tail

Have you seen those movies or television shows where someone is being followed by someone else in a car and they try to lose them? Well, this is a tip for those of us who are playful in errant ways. Parking lots get crazy at Christmas time. You’ll see cars stalking you as you walk to yours. They want your parking spot. You need to increase your steps. Why not take the long way to your car? Weave in and out of those parked cars. Remember that your car isn’t on this row, it’s on the other you just passed. Giggle when your stalker has to figure out to turn around. Yes, it’s kind of mean. But, hey, they should have parked at the back of the parking lot anyway, which is where you are now headed.

Remember, it’s the little things that count. So, put on your wearable fitness device and take that next step to a better you and remember to laugh a lot and have fun.

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