Walking can reduce your risk of stroke

A stroke occurs when blood and oxygen are cut off from the brain. It can cause serious long-term disability and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

There are several things you can do to reduce your chance of stroke including a healthy diet, controlling your blood pressure and exercising.

And exercise, in the form of walking, has been proven to reduce the risk of stroke significantly.

A Harvard study of nearly 40,000 women over a 12-year period, tracked the participants’ physical activity, such as walking, running, swimming and dancing. The study found that those who walked two or more hours a week were less likely to have a stroke, as compared to the other recorded activities. The study also found that women who walked at a brisk pace had a 37 percent lower risk when compared to women who did not walk for exercise.

Another study by Harvard of 11,000 men reported that one hour of brisk walking five times a week lowered a man’s risk of stroke by half.

To determine if you are walking at a brisk rate, take the “talk test.” When walking briskly, you should be able to talk, but not sing. If you are out of breath and cannot carry on a conversation,, you are probably walking too fast and should slow down.

Know the Signs of Stroke

The National Stroke Association developed the F.A.S.T. test to help identify the signs of stoke so you know when to call 9-1-1. Treatment is available but it must be given as soon as symptoms appear, so quick action required:

F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TIME If you observe any of these signs (independently or together), call 9-1-1 immediately.

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Keep hydrated when exercising

Drink water when walking
Water makes up two thirds of your body and is essential to every part of your body. It transports nutrients, regulates temperature, helps kidneys remove wastes, and lubricates joints.

With the hot summers months approaching, is it extremely important to be aware of your water intake. You may need more than the recommended 8-10 glasses a day to keep your system going, especially when walking. Drink a glass of water about an hour before you walk, than about 8 ounces every mile or so, and when you have finished exercising.

During exercise you lose fluid through your respiration and sweat. The trick is to drink water before you get thirsty, which is a sign of mild dehydration. Other signs include muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea and tiredness. Drinking water usually remedies the symptoms

One way to check if you are drinking enough water is to weigh yourself before and then after walking. If you have lost weight, it is probably due to lost fluids. Another way to track your hydration is to monitor the color of your urine. If it is light colored, you are hydrated. If it is dark in color, you should drink more.

So before you walk out that door, or climb onto the treadmill, make sure you grab a bottle of water. It is the purest, cheapest and simplest way to keep you comfortable and hydrated.

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Biking with your pedometer

Biking for exercies

Photo by thephotoholic

Walking is fantastic, but sometimes you just want to fly! And riding a bike can give you that need for speed. Wind in your face, the sound of tires on the pavement and the urge to yell weeeeeee!

May is National Bike Month and cycling organizations across the country are hosting events that promote cycling and bike safety. Also, Friday, May 20 is Bike to Work Day which challenges people to think about using their bike as an alternate, greener form of transportation.

You don’t have to be in excellent physical shape like Lance Armstrong to reap the health benefits of cycling. And with a little trial and error, you can even capture “steps” on your pedometer.

When you get on your bike, you will need to adjust where you place your pedometer to record the most “steps.” It may not capture all steps, but it will record the majority of steps. Hanging loose in a pocket works while walking, but this application will not record steps during biking. The trick is to have have it snug against your body and placed where the pedometer will pick up your leg or foot motion. One suggested placement is in a line between your navel and side hip, tucked in tight against your body, with the lanyard end pointing up. (The pedometer will look like it is upside down.) Another location may be in your sock or on your knee (some have used a tensor knee brace to hold it in place). The knee location seems to work best for a recumbent bike. Try several locations to see what works best for you. Also, remember to use your lanyard at all times.

So, if you are looking for a way to mix up your exercise routine, why not hop on a bike and go for a spin? For more information on bicycling, check out a previous blog posting.

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Employee health and fitness in the spotlight

May is International and National Employee Health and Fitness month and brings attention to the problems caused by inactivity and poor lifestyle choices. It was started by the National Association of Health & Fitness and ACTIVE Life to encourage employers and employees to promote regular activity and improve healthy lifestyles.

Your participation and commitment to your walking program does just that. It inspires others, whether you work in an office, a manufacturing plant or at home. Use this time to recommit to a stronger and healthier you.

At work, plan special events that celebrate healthy living. You will be creating a positive and supportive environment that will benefit everyone.

  • Schedule a morning employee group walk
  • Host a healthy pot luck lunch.
  • Walk during a meeting.
  • Challenge one another not use the elevator for a day.
  • Organize a mini walking challenge within your main company challenge
  • Create a brag wall in the workplace, where people can post their successes and congratulate others on their healthy lifestyle choices. Messages like “Joe did his first 10,000 step day” or “I ate 5 servings for fruits and veggies today!”

Tell us about your events, post pictures of your brag wall and other activities on Facebook.

Also, watch for fitness events in your area, as many governmental and community groups will be hosting local activities.

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Walking your way to youth

Happy walker
You know walking has many health benefits. Just 30 minutes of walking a day cuts the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It lowers the risk of high blood pressure and lifts your mood.

But did you know that your morning or evening walk may be your road to the Fountain of Youth?

A recent Canadian study found that mice who ran on a treadmill for 45 minutes, three times a week were remarkable more fit and health than the control group that did not exercise. So remarkable, in fact, that the mice who exercised looked younger, healthier and were more active than the control group that showed signs of aging and could barely move. Researchers commented that the moderate exercise protected every tissue and organ. They even went as far to say that exercise, such as walking, is the most potent anti-aging therapy today.

Another study found that people who participated in regular exercise had the same size cells as non-active people ten years younger.

Living longer is just a few more steps down the road to a healthier you. Another benefit of walking.

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