Move Smart! Set your walking goals the S.M.A.R.T. way

With the New Year comes resolutions and your commitment to walking which is probably the most important thing you can do this year. And goal setting can help you achieve it. Use the following S.M.A.R.T. criteria to develop your goal, review your progress weekly, and you will achieve what you have set out to do.

S – Specific. Define exactly what you want to accomplish. Walk 10,000 steps a day? Great, increase your average daily step count by 20 percent. When you’re comfortable with that, increase that amount by 20 percent. Keep doing this until you reach your goal.

M – Measurable. Upload your steps once or twice a week and use the tools on the Walkingspree website. Monitoring your progress will encourage you to keep going.

A – Adjustable. Be flexible and have a backup plan in case you are not able to get out for your regular walk or catch a cold. Adding 1,000 or so steps a day (about 10-15 minutes more walking time) may be all you need to get back on track.

R – Realistic. Make sure the goal reflects what is attainable for you and not based on comparing yourself to others. This is a lifelong commitment, not a horse race.

T – Time based. Set a deadline, and remember long term changes are achieved when you invest the time.

There will always be days that you don’t meet your goals, but it’s like brushing your teeth. If you forgot one night before bed, you wouldn’t say “I give up. I’m never brushing my teeth again.” Fitness and health is the same way, get back up the next day and start all over again.

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Move Smart! How fast you walk may predict how long you live

How fast you walk may predict how long you live, according to a study from the University of Pittsburg.

Researchers found that elderly people who normally walk faster live longer. And that speed was a more accurate predictor of life expectancy than age or sex and it can help doctors gauge the overall well-being in seniors.

According to the study, people who typically walked 1 meter per second or faster lived longer than expected. (One meter per second is 3.28 feet per second or about 2.25 mph.) The study analyzed the data of more than 34,000 adults who were 65 years of age or older from nine previous studies to find out if walking speed could predict longevity in older adults.

“We’re able to show that a person’s capacity to move strongly reflects vitality and health,” said study researcher Dr. Stephanie Studenski, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Walking requires energy, movement control, and support and places demands on multiple organ systems, including the heart, lungs, circulatory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems,” the authors wrote. “Slowing gait may reflect both damaged systems and a high energy cost of walking.”

Researchers pointed out the study was not to get people moving faster, but rather analyze the way and how fast people walk to their overall health.

One way to make sure you retain your gait into your old age is to keep walking every day. The Centers for Disease and Prevention recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking (a pace of three miles per hour or 6,000 steps or more) at least five times a week to improve your overall health and fitness, and reduce your risk for many chronic diseases.

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Move Smart! Nighttime safety walking tips

Be safe when walking at night
The change of seasons along with the change in daylight saving time may have you walking in the dark — literally. Here are a few tips to help you see and be seen while walking at night.

  • Carry a flashlight to illuminate your path and help drivers see you. Consider clipping a “book” light or other small light on the back of your jacket.
  • Walk in well lit areas and on routes you are familiar with. You need to know where the curbs and uneven surfaces are.
  • Wear reflective material when walking at dusk or at night. Don’t rely on one strip of reflective tape on your leg or arm.
  • Face oncoming traffic and stay on designated walkways and paths when possible. When a car approaches, move out of the way.
  • Always assume drivers will not see you, especially when crossing a street. Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you.
  • Use popular walking routes. Drivers in that area may already be on the lookout for pedestrians. But again, don’t assume that every driver is familiar with the area.
  • Be aware of engine noises and backup lights, cars backing out of driveway and parking lots.
  • Don’t use headphones or talk on the phone. Don’t get distracted.
  • Share your walking route and what time you expect to return with someone you trust.
  • Walk with a buddy or take Fido with you. There is safety in numbers and company can make the time pass.
  • Wear a whistle or carry a small alarm to attract attention if you need help.
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Move Smart! Exercise might help fight obesity gene

Researchers at the Medical Research Council’s Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge examined data on genes, weight and the exercise habits of 220,000 adults from around the world.

Researchers found that people who are genetically predisposed to obesity can reduce their odds of gaining weight by staying active.

The international group of researchers among study data of more than 218,000 participants, found the FTO (gene) “fat mass and obesity associated” (FTO) gene, which is known to increase the risk of obesity, has a 27 percent weaker effect on physically active adults compared to inactive ones.

How much exercise does it take to counteract the gene? About an hour a day five days a week, according to study author Dr. Ruth Loos, an obesity researcher at Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridge, England.
Dr. Loos mentioned that walking the dog, cycling to work, taking the stairs, all provide the same effects viewed in the study and that it’s not necessary to run a marathon or necessarily join a gym.

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Move Smart! 2011 Halloween contest winners

We had some amazing entries in this year’s Halloween contest. The competition was tough, and the decision even tougher. Congratulations to this year’s winners, who walk away with a $100 Amazon gift card!

2011 Halloween contest - Zombie Workout
Best Individual
James Landry
Constellation Energy

2011 Halloween contest Halloween Social
Best Group
Millie Lovos (dracula), Henry Buchheitt (top hat), Anita Wills (witch),
Burnadette Concepcion (smiling pumpkins), Maggie Johnson (clown),
Lataya Adams (blue bunny ears)

2011 Halloween contest - Super hero family
Honorable Mention
Josh Biggart
BCN/Dakkota Integrated Systems

2011 Halloween contest - Favorite time of year
Honorable Mention
Lacie Lyons
Walkingspree customer – Canada

2011 Halloween contest - Walkingspree family
Honorable Mention
Khuong Tran
Constellation Energy

Honorable Mention
Nancy Nguyen
Prime Therapeutics

2011 Halloween contest - Ghost rider and family
Honorable Mention
Ernesto Arteaga
TEVA Pharmaceuticals

2011 Halloween contest - Walking dead
Honorable Mention
Joy Thompson
Blue Care Network

2011 Halloween contest - Walk it off!
Honorable Mention
Gloria Nastas
Blue Cross Blue Shield

For more photo submissions, check out the Halloween photo album on our Facebook page

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