9 reasons you should try walking for transportation

This Austin-based writer sold her car and began walking to work every day, braving 103 degree heat, freezing temperatures, and even getting back to her routine after a nasty fall. What did she get from trading in her car for a pair of tennis shoes? Less stress, a new addiction to exercise, crazy financial savings, and a sense of well-being — to name a few.  We loved her story and hope you do too!

A year ago, I sold my car and committed to walking to work. Most weekdays, I walked a little under three miles to my office in downtown Austin. I encourage others who live within a reasonable walking distance from their offices to give it a try.

I’ve never been a huge fan of exercise. I figured if I did something extreme, like selling my car, I could reduce my carbon footprint while getting healthy and saving money. In 2013, I channeled my inner Forrest Gump and logged over 500 miles. Here are 10 reasons I’m hooked.

1. A three-mile walk once a day is not a big deal. Before I began walking to work, I casually dated a treadmill and had a few minor flings with the machines at the gym. I was miserable there. I hated waiting for a treadmill, I’m weird about smells (and the gym is full of them), and I always felt like a hamster, plugging along without a purpose. But walking with a purpose? It’s really not a big deal. If you are pokey like me, it will take you between 45 minutes to an hour to knock out three miles a day. The time passes quickly and next thing you know, you’ve made it to your destination.

2. Walking makes you feel fantastic. Every single day I walked — regardless of the weather or my mood before I left the house — I arrived at work feeling great. This is the first time in my entire life that I have felt that addicted to exercise. Exercise-addicted people used to drive me nuts, but I finally get it now. If I skip a day, I feel crummy, and by mid-morning I’m pumping myself up with coffee to stay awake.

3. If you sell your car and walk, you will save crazy money. I’m married with kids, so selling both cars isn’t an option for us. However, just ditching one car made a big difference. I don’t miss the car payment, the additional car insurance, the downtown parking fees, and the gas and maintenance. I also don’t miss the road rage.

4. Have a Plan B. Likely, you’ll need some flexibility for parent-teacher conferences and daytime errands. Austin offers Car2Go, a car share program where you simply check out a cute little smart car to use when you need it. I also rely on our city bus system and my wildly supportive husband, who picks me up from work many afternoons. Of course, not everyone has these options. If that’s the case, try and schedule some time to walk before work or after work when you can bring the kids along with you.

5. Walking reduces anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. I’m walking proof that it’s true. I’m a pretty high-strung gal, and when I walk, it makes a huge difference in how I handle stress.

6. Walking forces you away from screen time. It’s really refreshing to take a break from screens. While giving your neck and eyes a break, how about checking out the world around you? I actually see sunrises now. I also pass other walkers and feel an immediate sense of kinship. Some days, I get what I call “God’s bonus,” and a pack of shirtless guys half my age jog by, and I feel momentarily what grown men feel like when they ogle cheerleaders.

7. Worried you’ll get bored? Podcasts are the way to go. When I started walking regularly, my coworker suggested I subscribe to some podcasts, and recommended NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Now, I geek out to several podcasts several days a week. Here’s the iTunes Top 10 to get you going.

8. Be prepared. On Sunday nights, put your workout clothes and shoes somewhere visible so Monday morning you are ready to roll. This will keep you from making lazy Monday morning excuses.

9. Don’t stop. Make your walks a priority. Aside from one nasty fall I took a few months ago that knocked me out for a few days, I’ve been like a postman when it comes to my walks. I’ve walked when it’s 102 degrees, and this week, I left the house when it was below freezing. It’s that important. I never thought I would say that!

Do you live within a reasonable walking distance from your office? Do you ever walk to work, or would you consider it after reading this? Even if it’s impossible for you to get rid of your car, these tips definitely some of the benefits of walking!

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Just how much sugar have you eaten today?

Sometimes seeing a visual really helps make something clear. Sugarstacks.com shows fantastic visuals of the amount of sugar in an item with sugar cubes. You may want to think twice before grabbing that yummy looking cinnamon roll on the way into work.

Photo credit: Sugarstacks.com

Photo credit: Sugarstacks.com

Photo credit: Sugarstacks.com

Remember to use the Walkingspree Food Tracker to see how many steps you need to walk to burn off what you’ve consumed.

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Surgeon General Call to Action to Make Walking a National Health Priority

The U.S. Surgeon General is calling on Americans to “step it up” – and walk more. That this easy and free activity could prevent serious health problems. “Increasing people’s physical activity level will significantly reduce their risk of chronic disease and premature death and support positive mental health and healthy aging,” the report says.

On Wednesday, September 9th, 2015, Dr. Vivek Murthy launched the “Step It Up” campaign in Washington, D.C., a national effort to promote walking and wheelchair rolling.  ”The science tells us that 22 minutes of brisk walking or moderate physical activity can get you these health benefits of reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes,” Murthy explained.

In the Surgeon Genera’s “Call to Action,” he states that half of American adults, or 117 million people, are living with a chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death in the United States.

Despite the known health benefits of moderate exercise, government data shows that only half of U.S. adults and about a quarter of high school students reported getting the recommended amount of physical activity.

The Surgeon General also wants to make it easier for people to walk around their communities. His report urges government agencies, city planners and developers to design and maintain more pedestrian-friendly communities.

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MORE steps/calories Burned…. LESS awkward elevator moments

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Eat Smart! Keep up your metabolism

Drinking water boost your metabolismWeight management is all about calories in and calories out, but how fast your body burns calories depends on a number of factors. Your size and composition (muscle to fat ratio) impact how your body burns calories – the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn. Also, men tend to burn more calories than women and the body’s metabolism slows year after year after age 40.

So when developing a healthy eating plan and working your walking program, keep these in mind.

Stop yo-yo dieting, it confuses your body. Drastically reducing your daily calories or skipping meals signals your body that you are starving. Your body will shift its metabolism into survival mode by burning fewer calories and storing more as fat. Also, when you eat too few calories you risk losing muscle and muscle burns more calories than fat.

Keep your body running efficiently by eating smaller meals and snacks throughout the day, approximately every three to four hours. This forces your metabolism to burn calories all day long. Think of it like stoking a furnace, a fat burning furnace.

Be realistic about your weight loss goal. Aim for a weight loss of one to two pounds per week which can be done by reducing your caloric intake by 500 calories a day. Studies show that people who lose weight gradually are more likely to keep it off.

Drink water, drink water, drink water. Your body needs water to process calories, so when you are dehydrated your metabolism may slow. Studies show that people who drink eight to 12 glasses of water throughout the day have a higher metabolic rate than those who drink four glasses.

Your body burns more calories digesting protein than fat or carbohydrates. Replace some of your carbs with lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, beans, eggs or low-fat yogurt and eat protein at every meal.

Build muscle to burn more calories. Incorporate strength training into your exercise plan and interval walking into your routine. Changing up the intensity levels while walking will increase your metabolic rate. Boost your walking speed a few minutes at a time during your walk. Also, increase resistance by walking up hills or adjusting the incline on the treadmill. Taking the stairs also helps build leg muscles.

Remember, the more you move throughout the day, the more calories you burn.

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