Walking Tips

Walking Improves Overall Wellbeing in Advanced Cancer Patients

Walking Improves Overall Wellbeing in Advanced Cancer Patients

In a recently published article (BMJ Open), it was found that patients at advanced stages of cancer who walked for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week experienced enhanced quality of life.

The study was made up of patients with advanced stages of breast, gynecologic, hematologic or prostate cancers. This group was also considered at higher risk of undergoing psychological and/or physical health problems.

Especially noted in the study, were quality of life and how severe patient symptoms were. Notwithstanding all the supporting evidence of substantial health benefits, physical activity decreases significantly throughout cancer treatment and continues to be low after treatment. One theory for exercise being reduced and staying reduced is that patients with advanced cancer are normally supervised and their exercise programs tend to require travel to and from facilities with the appropriate specialists.

Increasing evidence shows that walking can alleviate many health concerns like depression, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, diabetes and more.

Overall, the study included 42 patients with advanced cancer. These patients were randomly divided between a walking program and a regular care program.

The patients in the walking program participated in a short but motivating interview. Additionally, they were advised to walk for a minimum of 30 minutes on alternating days while attending a weekly volunteer-led group walking activity.

Patients in the regular care program were motivated to remain steady in their existing levels and intensity of exercise.

The results of this research and the study showed participating patients in the walking program group showed better quality psychological, physical, and mental wellbeing after finishing the program. Many patients described how walking changed their attitudes about cancer. These patients also exhibited a more positive attitude about the benefits of social interaction in a walking program/group.

“The importance of exercise in preventing cancer recurrence and managing other chronic illnesses is becoming clear,” said Emma Ream, professor of Supportive Cancer Care and director of research in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Surrey and co-author of the study, said in a press release.

Further details and a PDF file of this study are located HERE.

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3 Easy Safety Tips to Start Your Spring Walking Program

3 Easy Safety Tips to Start Your Spring Walking Program

Spring is almost here! You won’t be confined to the indoors and you’re looking forward to the fresh air. Spring is a great time to try out a new walking regime. Don’t forget you’ll want to prepare for the transition from being indoors to heading outdoors the first few times. Safety might seem a no brainer but just in case you are a little rusty with where you should exercise or what are the normal precautions, here’s a few quick tips to keep in mind when making that indoor to outdoor transition with your new walking program.

Always tell someone where you are going. If you are going somewhere alone, let someone know. Chances are, everything will always be fine and no one will need to come looking for you. But, just in case, if you aren’t back in a reasonable amount of time, telling someone is a smart idea and allows people to find you much faster. Don’t forget that more populated areas like parks and public areas can be safer simply because there are more people around.

Don’t be predictable. Walking the same route at the same time every day is not only boring but can also let potential criminals on to the fact that you have a routine. Change your route. Choose different times of the day and even alternate directions (start at the opposite end) if you use the same path or trail several times week.

Watch the weather and keep contact information on your person.
Remember to check the weather. At the very least, you may want sunscreen and at the worst, you don’t want to be caught in a surprise thunderstorm. Be sure to carry contact information with you for emergencies. For example, if something goes wrong and  someone needs to help you,  they can call your family or a friend.

Spring is in the air and you should feel better knowing that you’re also taking care of your wellbeing in other ways just by following these tips.

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Challenge: Be “More Present” in 2017

Challenge: Be “More Present” in 2017

What does it mean to be “more present” and how can it assist you in your own personal and wellness goals?

Being present is the conscious practice of being engaged not only mentally but also emotionally.  Engaged in what, exactly, you ask?  The answer is going to be different for each person but is generally whatever is going on around you. It also means consciously paying attention to what you are doing.

One way to explain the difference between being present and not being present is to look at how much time you are spending “in your head” as opposed to experiencing life. One of the ways you can determine if you are present (or have not been present) is to recognize when you’ve lost track of time. Sometimes, this also feels like you weren’t aware of things that were going on around you for a period of time. For example, many of us can relate to “spacing out” while we are on a treadmill.  Music might be playing in our ear buds but we didn’t hear it because our thoughts were elsewhere. We might have an audio book playing in our ears or be sitting in church but later we realize we didn’t hear a word because we weren’t being present.

Can you think of other ways you aren’t fully present? Ever sat down to watch a movie and halfway into it realize you somehow ate a family size bag of chips?  What about while you are driving somewhere familiar or on a long stretch of road? We all tend to “zone out” and go into auto-pilot. Before we know it, we are at our destination and we can’t recall each moment of the drive home or to work.

Zoning out on the way home isn’t all bad. The important point here is considering what is going on in your mind while you are zoned out. What kind of “chatter” is taking place that is keeping you from completely being in the moment?

How can our Bodies Benefit from Being Present?

We can improve our physical well-being by being more present. When you are more fully aware and present, your body tends to relax. The reason for this is rather simple. When we are not present, we are usually worrying, planning or remembering things we need to do, things we forgot to do, issues that stress us out or possibly dreading something in the future. Your body is physically in the present. Therefore, even your past thoughts, memories or future concerns are felt by your body as something that is happening in that moment. As you can imagine, this is part of the way that stress and tension develop.

If you can increase the amount of time that you are mentally present, your physical body and well-being will benefit because you’ll be letting go of excess tension and stress.

Other benefits of being more aware and present in your daily environment include being more confident, having more energy, sleeping better and having better memory. All of these benefits lead to a more healthy, happy YOU.

When you make the conscious decision to switch from not present to being present, it’s a definite switch with purpose and intention. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally and it takes practice. There are many ways to be more present. For some of us, it’s a matter of walking away from digital devices, spending more time away from Facebook and other forms of social media. For still others, it can be a simple matter of breathing deeply, wiggling your toes or just taking the time to intentionally notice the texture of your clothing, the colors in your office or the sounds you can hear at this very moment. (Just run “ways to be more present” into a search engine for great ideas. We found this one called 12 Simple Ways to Be Present.)

Experts say that as we keep practicing at being more present, it will eventually come naturally without our thinking about it so much. But make no mistake, it will take an intentional effort on your part to become more present daily. The pay offs include better relationships, lasting marriages, career fulfillment and promotions, physical fitness, more energy, better sleep and so much more.

So, take a few moments and practice being more mentally engaged with your surroundings and those around you. It’ll make 2017 your best year yet.

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New Year’s Goals and Your Worst Enemy

New Year’s Goals and Your Worst Enemy

Enemies are almost never thought of kindly. That’s why you need to recognize one enemy that you MUST treat kindly while, at the same time, refusing to listening to negative comments from. Who’s that enemy? Look in your mirror.

You.

Yes, that’s correct. Your biggest threat to your success is yourself.

You are going to have good days. You’ll also have bad days on your nutritional plan and your fitness plan. You may want to give up. Resolve right now that you won’t listen 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 be ‘training the brain’ while you are creating a new habit.

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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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