Move!

Walking off those Thanksgiving calories

Thanksgiving is time for family and friends. It is a time to reflect and be thankful. It can also be a time to consume a ton of calories. The average Thanksgiving meal has 2,500 calories – well over one’s daily calorie requirement. You would need to walk approximately 51,000 steps or 25 miles (assuming you walk 2,000 steps/mile) to burn it off.

But with a little planning, mindful eating and your activity tracker, you can enjoy your favorite foods without sabotaging your healthy eating goals.

  • Use your Activity Tracker to help you keep track of your steps.
  • Use the Food Tracker to check the number of calories in your favorite Thanksgiving foods – it will calculate how many steps you need to walk to burn off a particular food item or meal.
  • Increase your daily step count and build in a step buffer – taking more steps during the week of and after Thanksgiving will help burn off those extra calories. Just an extra 10 minutes once a day will burn off those 2,500 calories by Christmas.
  • For more tips, check out the Thanksgiving eating strategies and healthy cooking tips in the Walkingspree member blog.

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    Can’t Fall Asleep? Try This!

    Can’t Fall Asleep? Try This!

    Some things in life are necessary, like food, water, and shelter. But, to be reasonably content human beings, we need a few more things. Human contact is good, alone time is great, but at the top of the list? Decent sleep. Good sleep is absolutely mandatory.

    But, falling asleep is one of those Chinese finger-trap tasks that we’ve never been able to master. We’d lie awake thinking about how not asleep we were, look at the clock, turn over, and repeat. The longer we stayed awake worrying about it, the harder it became to actually fall asleep. Until we discovered a new method.

    Keep in mind, we’re taking liberties with the word “method.” This trick is even simpler than that. But, it’s still the most effective, foolproof, works-every-time tip that absolutely changed our lives. Drumroll please: It’s breathing.

    Breath regulation, while utterly simple, has an impact on every system in your body. By breathing in subtly different ways, you can effect blood pressure, heart rate, emotional stability, and even hormones. Anyone who’s ever had a panic attack knows that the most effective way to quell that horrible moment of mental and physical distress is with slow, regulated breathing.

    But, if you need to fall asleep, here’s how to do it:

    1. Lie down in your preferred sleep position. You can also start on your back and roll into it when you start to drop off.

    2. Breathe in through your nose on a count of three seconds.

    3. Breathe out through your nose on a count of six seconds.

    4. Repeat until you fall asleep.

    This works for two reasons. First, you will need to consciously pay attention to counting your breath in order for it to work — it’s like a more effective version of counting sheep. Second, and most important, your body and brain will instantly feel the effect that comes with this shorter-inhale, longer-exhale technique. The physiological impact is immediate as your autonomic nervous system shifts gears, telling muscles to relax, heart rate to slow down, and your brain to downshift from high-alert mode.

    If you find that the three-to-six ratio is uncomfortable, feel free to change it. The most important thing is to keep your exhales longer than your inhales. Both the medical community and meditation practitioners can attest to the proven power of this breathing technique (also known as “7-11 breathing”).

    Insomniacs, trust us. If you commit to this breathing method for just a few minutes, you will fall asleep. We can’t calculate the exact duration required for it to kick in, but we have never stayed awake longer than five minutes when we employed it. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is.

    Sweet dreams!

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    Active Online? It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

    Active Online?
    It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

    Are you active online? Do you update your Facebook status or post new pictures on Instagram? Like to do your shopping online?  The National Cyber Security Alliance wants to remind you that any time you share information online, it is a potential doorway for a variety of criminals, including, but not limited to perpetrators of identity theft, home robbery and fraud.

    October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)– #CyberAware –  and was created by government and industry to help safeguard Americans by providing the information needed to stay safer online. 2016 marks the 13th annual NCSAM, co-founded and co-led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).  NCSA is the United States’ leading nonprofit, public-private partnership focused on cybersecurity education and awareness. Data shows that more than one-third of U.S. consumers have tackled a computer virus, been a victim of a hacking incident or other form of cyber-attack in the last year. Cybercrime is an ongoing challenge and NCSA and DHS work year round to encourage awareness about internet safety and being responsible online.

    At Walkingspree, we encourage people to be more physically active. We know that many of you are also very active online. This month we’re encouraging you to be actively responsible with your online security precautions. Take some time to review how secure your information is and also talk with your children and the elderly about being safe online.

    The NCSA has a comprehensive website with extensive resources focused on staying safe online. Topics range from preventing your personal accounts from being hacked to cutting down on spam to protecting your business from cybercrime and more. You’ll also find resources on how to teach cyber security to different age groups. This is a great resource for parents of young children. You can find this information on the NCSA website.

    There are some great tip sheets located on the website and you may want to save and send some around to your friends or to co-workers. The following tip sheet on mobile safety tips is short and sweet example of these resources.

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    September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

    National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

    The following information is taken from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website, HealthFinder.gov.

    One in 3 children in the United States are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

    The good news? Childhood obesity can be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for kids to eat healthier and get more active.

    Make a difference for kids: spread the word about strategies for preventing childhood obesity and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.

    How can National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month make a difference?
    We can all use the remainder of the month to raise awareness about the obesity epidemic and show people how they can take steps toward a solution.

    Here are just a few ideas:

    • Encourage families to make small changes, like keeping fresh fruit within reach or going on a family walk after dinner.
    • Motivate teachers and administrators to make schools healthier. Help them provide healthy food options and daily physical activities for students.
    • Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by supporting programs to prevent childhood obesity.

    How can I help spread the word?


    We’ve made it easier for you to make a difference. This toolkit is full of ideas to help you take action today. For example:

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    Beginner 5K Walk (3.1 Miles)

    As Walkingspree members, you’re already walking. Some of you are collecting steps throughout the day and others at concentrated walks. Now you can add another layer to your walking by learning how to increase your walking distance, speed and time by participating in a 5K Walk event (3.1 miles or approx 6,000 steps). Fall is an ideal time to do your first 5K event.

    Don’t worry about speed at the beginning and instead focus on the time you spend walking. Take each part at your own pace and repeat until you can follow the plan.

    Getting Started on a 5K Walk:

    Weeks 1 – 2

    We’re going to assume that as Walkingspree members, you’ve already been walking for 100 minutes/week and are able to walk daily for 20 minutes at a time.

    Check your Getting Started Guide (First Steps: A Walking Primer) on your login page for tips on walking shoes, walking form and other getting started with walking tips.

    Week 3: Walk at a Moderate Pace

    Time: Add 5 minutes a day so you are walking 25 minutes, 5 days a week. Weekly total goal: 100 – 125 minutes.

    Measure your Intensity

    Talk test. If you’re so out of breath that you can’t carry on a conversation with the person you’re walking with, you’re probably walking too fast and should slow down.

    Perceived exertion Scale. You rate how hard you think you’re working on a scale that ranges from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort). Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.

    Monitor your heart rate (pulse). To find out if you’re exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery). Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate. Your target heart rate will depend on age. Resting heart rate average is 72 beats per minute.

    Week 4: Add a Long Day

    Time: Add 5 minutes a day to walk 30 minutes, 4 days a week, at a moderate pace. Weekly total goal: 125 – 150 minutes.

    Start building mileage by adding a long day. Every week, add one long day on your fifth day. This should be a 40 minute walk at an easy pace.

    Week 5: Adding Speed

    Time: Walk 30 minutes a day on four days a week.
    Long Walk: walk 45 minutes at an easy pace.

    Building speed: During your short walks, focus on your form. If you have not been using arm motion, this can help improve your speed (do not carry weights while walking as that can cause injury).

    Week 6: Build on your Mileage

    Time: Walk 30 minutes a day four days a week, paying attention to form and speed.
    Long Walk: walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.

    Weeks 7 and 8: Adding Intervals

    You’ve done great and by now you could complete your 5K walk. This is a good time to add intervals to your walk as they help build stamina, speed and endurance.

    For your long week this week, walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.

    Week 9 and Beyond

    Why not try turning your long walk into a dry run for your event every other week. Try to increase your pace and walk at 80% of the speed that you hope to walk for the 5K event. You can also try adding another 15 minutes to your walk to increase distance.

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