Take a walking vacation this year


When planning your vacation this year, how about making it a walking vacation? Practically every location imaginable has walking opportunities, from natural trails to guided walking tours that focus on special interests like architecture, shopping or even haunted houses!

Check with the local tourism bureau for information and maps for river walks, hiking trails or guided tours.

Another great resource for self-guided walking tours is Volkssports or IVV clubs, which is a family-oriented sports and recreation program open to everyone. This group originated in Europe and has associations all over the world.

They offer a wealth of information about permanent trails selected by club members. The trails may go through scenic or historic areas, and may be in cities, towns, parks, or rural areas. Throughout the year, individual clubs also organize walking events designed for all fitness levels. No membership is required and it is a great way to experience your destination.

When you get back, we’d love to hear about your walking vacation. Share your adventures and advice on our Facebook page, along with a photo or two with you and your pedometer!

QUICK TIP

Don’t forget to:

  • Pack sunblock and insect spray.
  • Wear a hat, a good pair of sunglasses and your pedometer.
  • Carry water and snacks.
  • Don’t overdo it, take regular breaks and remember you have to walk back!
  • Botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, zoos – oh, so many opportunities to get your 10,000 steps a day!

Check out our previous blog posting on how to eat healthy during your vacation.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS YOUR PEDOMETER?

The warm weather is here and vacation time is on the horizon and we want to see where your pedometer has been. Are you visiting a new city? Going on a hike? Hanging out at the beach? Doing a 5K walk/run? Send us your photos of you with your pedometer and share your adventure with us. You can share them directly to Facebook or send them to success@walkingspree.com.

We’ll collect them all summer and do a draw at the end of the summer from the submissions for a $100 gift card.

We’ll collect them all summer and do a draw at the end of the summer from the submissions for a $100 gift card.

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Vitamin Cheat Sheet

If you want to maximize getting your vitamins through food, this infographic is an excellent vitamin cheat sheet.

(click the image to view a larger size)

Vitamins Cheat Sheet

A balanced diet goes a long way to getting the vitamins and minerals you need to feel good and head off health problems.

Unfortunately, very few people eat right every day.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, adults are often deficient in:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin A (as carotenoids)
  • Vitamins C
  • Vitamin E

Multivitamins are not a catch all though and should be thought of as a way to boost diets low in nutrients. They are not substitutes for healthy eating.

That’s because multivitamins lack a number of beneficial compounds for wellness, including phytonutrients, and fiber, found in plant foods. Multivitamins also typically fall short of the recommend daily amount of calcium and other important vitamins and minerals, too.

Think of multivitamins as an insurance policy, but don’t fool yourself into thinking dietary supplements measure up to the benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight, eating right, and getting regular physical activity.

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Walkingspree Success Stories

Success stories can motivate you. They provide inspiration when you see other everyday people like yourselves, pushing themselves a little further to achieve a goal. These recent Walkingspree success stories include our winning entry from Lillie as well as honorable mentions from many other deserving members.

We hope you are inspired by them as much as we were.

“I enjoyed walking when I was younger but as I’ve gotten older and busier I’ve moved away from the habit. When we received the pedometers from BCBSM as part of a healthier living incentive I was challenged. I had been saying that I wanted to lose the weight I had gained and just thinking of my health in general. It was time I reintroduce myself to a habit that I use to love. Every day I made it my goal to increase my steps or at least match the day previous day’s record. I started taking the steps instead of riding the elevator. Instead of driving to the convenience store I started walking there. Before long I was walking almost every day.

I eventually started noticing a difference in the way that my clothes were fitting and how my body was feeling. I was actually losing the weight and at the same time getting a quiet moment to myself to reflect.

I’m glad to say that I’m still walking and I feel good. I’m down 47 pounds and counting. This challenge has been extremely instrumental in helping me get back to walking and taking better care of my over all healthy.

Thank you Blue Cross and Blue Shield for challenging your employees to B Well!! I know it made a difference in my life.
Lillie, BCBS of Michigan Employee


“My name is Amy and I am 31. When I was 29 years old I passed out in the bathtub and hit my head and broke my nose. I ended up having a closed head injury. The hospital couldn’t say for sure that I passed out from anything specific, but they said I was unhealthy and I needed to change my life and fast. I had high cholesterol and I was very over weight and unhappy. My health insurance was asking us to participate in a program to manage our BMI or pay more out of pocket for our health insurance. I felt like they were forcing me to choose a plan that they felt would make me “healthy”, I didn’t feel like anything would make me healthy, I was destined to be fat and unhappy. I was angry, how could they force me to change my life?!? Who were they to demand such an action from unhappy me? Didn’t they know I was tired? I am a mommy, a full time employee and full time graduate school student. Who has time to walk?!?

But, being the cheap skate that I am, I wanted to keep my health insurance premium down and so I began walking to show that silly company that a pedometer wouldn’t make me change my life, I’d show them! Slowly but surely, I tried to walk a little more each day just to get the silly program over with. I’d show them! By the end of the second quarter I had lost about 10 pounds just from walking. I began to see that life could change. I wasn’t trapped in this big body that made me sad. I began looking into something called a 5k, it was completely foreign to my me, could I do a 5k? I did just that. I walked my first 5k in March 2012, I finished in 53 minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever been that proud of myself. I decided to keep a private journal reflecting my thoughts, I wanted to track not only my physical changes but my emotional changes as well.

I decided maybe this walking thing wasn’t that bad, and if I could walk, maybe I could jog. I began to jog very slowly, but jog none the less. I ended up walk/ jogging three more 5ks that summer. I began finishing my required steps for Walkingspree more than a month early. I suddenly realized, that company that I was trying to prove that a pedometer wouldn’t change my life was doing just that, it opened a door to a new me. It changed me, it made me start to ask myself what else can I do? What else can I change? When summer came and it got hot outside, I lost my drive. I’ve always hated to be hot, I quickly put back on the weight that I had lost and then some. Soon fall was here, and I was sad and angry again. I decided to read my journal that I kept, and I found my inspiration to get moving again. I found the post of the first time that I was able to walk over 10,000 steps in a day. I remember this was a huge milestone for me, I had always felt like that was an impossible number to reach.

In the fall, once the weather began to cool, I began to get moving again. I began jogging and walking, or doing other cardio workouts and looking at the emails that Walkingspree sent me about healthy eating. I made some changes and in just over six months I’ve lost almost 60 pounds. I no longer have high cholesterol and I am moving my BMI down into the the overweight range, as opposed to the morbidly obese range. I feel so much better about myself. I’m happy and I have energy, I look forward to my workouts now. I’ve even set a goal to run a half marathon in February of 2014. To think all this change saved me from myself, all started because of a little pedometer. “
Amy, Blue Care Network of Michigan’s Healthy Blue Living insurance member


I am so happy and motivated to be a part of this awesome program! Thank you BROADWAY! Having the pedometer really motivates me to get off the couch and take extra steps when I’m home and this weekend, I took my children walking and running with me as well. It was awesome!”
Heather, Broadway Bank Employee


I’ve only lost about 10 lbs during my Mall Walkers membership, but I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about myself & my habits. I LOVE my pedometer & how easy it is to upload & monitor my progress. We’ve had several family funerals this spring with out-of-town house guests & they teased me about all my walking, but I just smiled & told them that I’m “on the road to a better me” & the walking is a NECESSITY to keep all my joints fit & the food from “sticking”. I’ve also shared the Walkingspree recipes & forward the motivational emails on. I’ve also included other friends into my monthly Mall Walkers events. So- THANKS Jen & the Mall Walkers team!!!!!!!
Bernadette, Excela Health member


I work at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. I have lost 43 pounds in the last 3 years with the help of Weight Watchers and Walkingspree. I am including my husband George in the picture because he has been with me every “step of the way.” He also keeps track of his steps. Making time to walk is a challenge every day.

I also want to say thank you to my co-workers. We have our own walking challenges in between the official Walkingspree challenges. It keeps us all motivated! Being healthy is not easy…it can be downright brutal. But, so worth it!

Thank you.
Patti, BCBS of Michigan Employee


Had to take a minute and tell you how Walkingspree has changed my life. I try to get in at least 12,000 steps a day. I have lost 30 pounds and feel so much better. Time to go on a ShoppingSpree! It has helped my asthma and given me more energy to do those things that I used to shy away from. Thanks so much for my new life!
Rose, United Methodist Church Employee


Since I began the Walkingspree program last January, I have lost 12 pounds. I was taking Prilosec daily for acid reflux disease. With the weight loss and the walking program, I no longer need to take Prilosec. Also, my blood pressure was borderline high in January of 2012. I was monitoring my blood pressure and pleaded with my doctor to give me three months to exercise and lose weight so that I wouldn’t have to take medication. Within three months, my blood pressure was normal. I am thankful for the Walkingspree program. It was just the right inspiration I needed to be motivated to walk every day.
Vicki, BCBS of Michigan Employee


Walkingspree is a specialized wellness program vendor that employs interactive technology to inspire healthier choices and increased physical activity. Walkingspree programs are already in use by health insurers, insurance brokers, Fortune 500 companies, and small to medium sized businesses. To learn more about the significant benefits that your company and your employees can realize with our corporate walking program, request a demo today.
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Make the great outdoors your gym

A great way to spice up your walk is to add some strength training exercise intervals during your walk. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your regular walk will pass by. After five minutes of walking, do one minute of exercise. Choose a different exercise for each five minute walk cycle.

Start on your regular walking or running workout with a good 10 minute warm up followed by stretching. Choose a route that takes you through a park or some place with park benches, playground equipment, cement retaining walls, stairs, or hills – your very own outdoor gym.

Walking Lunges

Walking lunges provide a good workout for the glutes, quads and hamstrings. They also improve flexibility in the legs and hips. Be sure not to extend the knee past the foot, but keep it at a 90 degree angle.

exercise

Park Bench Tricep Dips

This exercise works the triceps in the arms. Sit on a park bench and then lift your body weight up and out, palms on the edge of the bench and facing out and your elbows straight. Your knees will be bent and your feet flat on the ground. Bend your elbows and then straighten to dip down and up. Be sure not to rock back and forth away from and back to the bench. Instead, keep your back very close to the bench during the entire movement and limit the movement to up and down.

exericse

Bench Step Ups or Stairs

Stand in front of a park bench and step up, up, down, down, making sure your heel isn’t hanging off the edge of the step. This works your glutes and quads. Benches are higher off the ground, so stairs may be a better option for beginners.

exercise

Park bench/Playground Sit Ups

Place your feet under a hanging edge/handle. Rest the palms of your hands behind your head and raise your upper body. Do not pull your head forward and keep your back straight.

exercise

Be creative. You can use playground equipment to do push ups/pull ups, squats and more. You just have to start seeing the outdoors as your personal gym and combined with your walks for a perfect workout.

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Eat Smart! Strawberries are heart healthy

Summer is just around the corner and soon local produce sections and farm markets will be overflowing with seasonal harvests. Strawberries will be one of the first fruits to hit the stands in early June, which is National Strawberry Month.

The health benefits of strawberries parallel those of walking. They help protect against heart disease, help regulate blood sugar and decrease risk of type 2 diabetes, plus reduce the risk of certain cancers such as breast, cervical, colon and esophageal.

This little heart-shaped gem is a potent powerhouse of nutrition. A cup of strawberries contains twice as much Vitamin C as an orange, almost 150 percent of the recommended daily requirement. They are a good source of manganese for a healthy heart and bones, fiber to lower blood pressure and curb overeating, and contain antioxidants known as polyphenols which reduce the risk of heart disease. They contain no sodium, fat or cholesterol and are low in calories, just 50 per cup (about 8 large strawberries.)

Strawberries make it easy to keep your healthy eating commitment. Add them to your cereal in the morning, put them in a spinach salad at lunch, or enjoy a bowlful topped with a dollop of plain yogurt for dessert.

There is nothing in this world like a fresh picked strawberry. Make sure you search out this special summer treat.

Homemade Strawberry Sorbet

Ingredients:
· 3-3/4 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
· 1/2 cup sugar
· 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
· 2 tbsp lemon zest

Preparation:
1. Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor.
2. Blend in the remaining ingredients
3. Pour into a bowl or deep dish, cover, and freeze for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition:
Calories: 77
Total Fat: 0.24g
Sat Fat: 0.013g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 0.97mg
Total Carbs: 20g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8g
Sugar: 17g
Protein: 0.59g

Source: Walkingspree Food Tracker

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