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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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Your 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Your 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Let’s face it. We’ve all got good intentions regarding our health and wellness. But it seems like there is always something else to do, things to get done and places to be. We don’t have to look very far to find excuses and reasons to procrastinate when it comes to being more active and physically fit. Before we know it, months and years pass us by and we find ourselves less healthy than we’ve been in some time.

The more time that passes, the less fit we are and the harder it is to get started moving again. We also realize that we’ve lost confidence in ourselves in addition to strength and stamina. That makes it a lot easier to give up and go home when we know we should keep pushing through our exercise roadblocks

It seems like summer has flown by and we are running headfirst into fall. Here at Walkingspree, in south Texas, we are just hoping for temperatures below 90 but that’s another story. It is worth noting that one thing we all have in common, no matter what state we live in, is that fall routines are more, well… routine. So there will be new times and moments to create new beginnings for ourselves. This is our opportunity to create a new habit before colder winter days set in. That is key. Get that habit in place before the weather makes us think twice!

Your Personalized 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Let’s say that most people have at least 8 weeks, maybe twelve, before cold temperatures set in. In southern states, we have several months before we say it’s “too cold.” But everyone has at least 8-12 weeks.

Sure, you are always going to have your everyday responsibilities. Career, relationships, kids, life and all that goes with it. That’s why you have to look at your schedule and purposefully find that small window of time for you. Even if it means carving out just 20 minutes of your day. Put it on your calendar, enter it into your phone with a reminder. You have to put on a blindfold when it comes to all the other distractions that try to pull you away from that one small time frame set aside for you.

You also have to fight off your biggest enemy: Yourself. Don’t give in to the following (or similar) thoughts “I don’t feel good today.” Or “I’m just not in the mood.” Or “I’ll start tomorrow.” Or “Today was a really bad day, I’ll start when I feel more positive.” Or “I’m so tired. I just need to rest.”

Your own thoughts can be your biggest obstacle. Sometimes it helps to just visualize slamming a door on those thoughts as soon as you think them. Sure, counter it with a positive thought like “Walking gives me more energy, so I won’t be so tired so often.”  But definitely give yourself the mental picture of slamming a door on the negative thought and padlocking it. When you do that, you are also giving your brain the message that those thoughts are not welcome. In some ways, you will also be ‘training the brain’ while you are creating your new habit.

Set the time in your calendar for the next 90 days. Call it “Self Appreciation” or “Self-Improvement” instead of “exercise” or “working out” if those terms don’t inspire excitement in you. Create a start date and an end date. Even if it means you only choose to be more active three days a week for 20 minutes at a time. Chances are, after your first week or two of meeting your goals, you may choose to bump it up to four times a week. Starting small is perfectly alright.

Don’t Limit or Compare Yourself

Remember everyone is different and we all have to start at our own starting line. If you haven’t worked out or been active in quite some time, you’re starting line may look very simple. It may mean a 15-minute walk around the block with five minutes of stretching.  For someone else, the starting line might be a brisk 30-minute walk or a light jog along a favorite trail.

Stay Accountable

Call a friend (or a group of friends) to join you. Studies show that when people know there is someone waiting and counting on them to show up, they are more likely to stick to a fitness routine and see results.

Last, but not least, stay positive! This is not a contest or a race. This is about being healthy, happy and creating a habit. Habits don’t just ‘end’ like a race or a contest. They are meant to keep going and be a consistent part of your life. So, once your personalized 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan is complete, just start a new one. Personalize it some more. Add different activities and try new things. Or, simply keep improving on what you’ve already begun.

Written by Krissy Gillaspia for Walkingspree

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12 Alternate Ways to Get Your Steps In

12 Alternate Ways to Get Your Steps In

1. Participate in a charity walk or fundraiser. You’ll benefit your own health while helping to benefit someone else, a community goal or other worthy cause. Numerous websites provide information about local walks and search features. Fitness Magazine provides a list of charity organizations that host walk/runs benefitting causes like curing Alzheimer’s Disease, breast cancer and ending domestic violence.

2. Go antiquing. Take a stroll through time and marvel at the things people used in the past. Many towns and cities have “antique districts.” Often, you’ll find shop after shop after shop all within walking distance.

3. Visit the zoo, an aquarium or play mini golf. You’d be surprised at how many steps accumulate as you stroll along, observe or participate.

4. Go to a museum or an art gallery. Check with your city and see if there are any new exhibits in town. Who knows? You may find a new interest you didn’t know you had!

5. Become a volunteer dog walker. We all know the majority of us aren’t getting enough steps in. This probably also means that dog owners aren’t out walking their dogs as much as would be optimal. Chances are, you know a few dog owners who love their dogs and would love for their furry friends to get out and enjoy a walk. You’ll get your steps in and make a dog’s day.

6. Visit a craft fair, farmer’s market or other outdoor show. Many towns and cities have something going on every weekend and often during the week as well, depending on the theme. Do an online search for local events or farmers’ markets in your area.

7. Attend a music fest, rodeo or other festival. Some of these types of events last for days. Austin, Texas’ popular SXSW festival usually runs for about 10 days. Attendees can purchase passes by the day or buy a pass for the entire event. Run a search for music fests in your area. Websites like Music Festival Wizard keep track of events nationally. Rodeos in large cities cover huge areas with booths, events and concerts. Lots of steps to get in at these events! Visit Everfest online to locate rodeos near you.

8. Go window shopping or visit an outlet mall. Make a promise you’ll walk the whole thing before stopping more than a few seconds and only then will you go back to browse in the store where you saw that ONE thing you needed! Visiting a new city and not sure where the malls are? Visit Outlet Bound to discover outlet malls near you.

9. Find a botanical garden, a hiking trail or local nature trail. Does your community offer a walk along a river that runs through town? Do you have a nature center in the area? What about a wildflower or Christmas tree farm that allows visitors to stroll through? The American Public Gardens Association offers a search feature to help you locate a variety of public gardens in your area.

10. Offer to visit people in the nursing home who are in wheelchairs. Seek permission to take the elderly out for a walk and offer to push wheelchairs.

11. Play a game like Pokemon Go with your kids and see how far you can walk while locating monsters like Pickachu.

12. Visit a local fort, mission or other landmark that requires you to walk around and observe it both inside and out. Offer to pick up litter at these or other historical places. Helping to keep your community and its landmark’s in great shape and looking clean not only helps your community and the environment but also gives you a sense of purpose while getting your steps in – further improving your own wellbeing!

*Our 12 steps were based on and adapted from the suggestions in 10,000 Steps a Day to Your  Optimal Health by celebrity fitness trainer, Greg Isaacs.

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