Movement is Medicine: How Walking Can Improve Your Health and Happiness

When it comes to exercise, it’s easy to assume that you need a complicated or intensive workout routine to stay physically fit; however, the reality is that you can improve your health from the comfort of your own home, a local park, or even a nearby mall. Walking is one of the most popular aerobic activities in the U.S. In fact, the CDC found that approximately 145 million include walking in their physically active lifestyle. During the month of September, employees at TPMG will participate in a walking wellness challenge. Teams across our sites will keep track of their steps as we encourage some healthy competition among offices.

“Movement is medicine,” said Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Athletic Trainer, Tina Keasey of TPMG Strive Fitness and Sports Performance. Walking is a low-impact activity that can keep your body lubricated, strengthens your muscles, improves your energy levels, reduces stress, and even improves your cardiovascular health.

How much should we be walking?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Taking a small, brisk walk every day is a great way to meet your exercise goals. While many fitness apps and weight loss trackers advertise the health benefits of getting 10,000 steps per day, it’s more effective to measure your progress using time and intensity. Someone walking at a leisurely pace for 10,000 steps will have a much different energy output than someone walking briskly for 10,000 steps. While less effective at measuring overall exercise output, counting your steps can still help you measure your success and act as a daily reminder to meet your health goals.

How can you get the biggest bang for your buck?

There are several ways to increase your daily steps and maximize your exercise output. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

• Take the stairs
Next time, skip the elevator and opt for the stirs. Each flight of stairs you climb is an average of 12 or 13 steps, which can add up quickly. Climbing steps is also a great way to improve strength and endurance.

• Park far away
It might be obvious, but the farther away you park, the more energy you’ll burn coming into work, class, the grocery store, and more. Try parking in the back of the parking lot when you go out, but make sure you find a space that is well-lit, especially at night.

• Walk at work
Try to take small walking breaks throughout the day. It’s easy to get caught up in a project or problem at work and forget that your body needs regular movement to stay healthy. Taking a break to stretch your legs could also help improve your focus at work.

• Take your pet to the park
Your furry friend is the perfect excuse to get out and be active! They require exercise just the same as you, so why not kill two birds with one walk around the park?

• Find a friend
One of the best ways to remain accountable to your exercise goals is to enlist the help of a friend or family member. Walking with a buddy is also safer for both of you, especially in isolated areas like trails.

• Choose the right playlist
Let’s face it. Walking can sometimes be boring, which is why it is a great idea to add your own soundtrack to your exercise. If music isn’t your forte, try a podcast or audiobook to add some incentive to your exercise.

• Challenge Yourself
Try increasing your pace or changing your walking surface (a beach or a steeper trail) to add greater challenge to your walk. Hand weights or weighted vests are also helpful tools that can increase your challenge while walking.

Don’t know where to start? That’s okay. The beauty of walking is that you can do it anywhere! You can explore a park, take a stroll around the neighborhood, make a circuit through your local mall, or even walk around your own home. Hampton Roads has no shortage of interesting walking locations in Hampton Roads. For those looking to find a new favorite walking location, try these places the next time you walk:

• Waller Mill Park in Williamsburg
• Matteson Trail in Hampton
• Sandy Bottom Nature Park in Hampton
• The Noland Trail in Newport News
• The Elizabeth River Trail in Norfolk
• Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia Beach
• Boardwalk Oceanfront in Virginia Beach

Wherever you choose to walk, it’s important to remain safe and healthy. One of the most important things to remember while walking is to stay hydrated. Bring a bottle of water with you while you walk and try not to walk during the middle of the day when it’s hottest outside. Make sure you always walk in a well-lit area and consider bringing a friend or family member to walk with you. A good pair of walking shoes will also help you avoid blisters and prevent other forms of wear and tear on your feet. Remember to stretch while you walk to prevent cramps and pain.

Want to join in on TPMG’s walking challenge? Track your steps along with us and see if you can add more fitness to your routine. Walking is a realistic and achievable way for many of us to improve our overall health and fitness. For more help with your fitness goals, reach out to one of our athletic trainers at TPMG Strive Fitness and Sports Performance.

Tina E. Keasey, ATC/L, CSCS

About Tina E. Keasey, ATC/L, CSCS

Tina Keasey, ATC/L, CSCS is a licensed and certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) and the Virginia Board of Medicine. She is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Throughout her career, she has worked with the 2001 Junior Olympics, 2003 Senior Olympics, several semi-professional soccer and basketball players, as well as NCAA track and field champions. She looks forward to helping clients at TPMG–Strive Fitness and Sports Performance find the right fitness routine to fit their lifestyle, as she believes it is an integral part of living your fullest life.

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