May The Road Rise To Meet You!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

Even though the season doesn’t officially start for four more days, St. Patrick’s Day always feels like the beginning of Spring to me. It’s probably a combination of all of the green, and the fact that it’s usually the first parade of the year where I live. Whatever the reason, this holiday in the middle of March gets me thinking forward to all the warm weather, long evenings, and outdoor activities to come. Most of us also moved our clocks ahead an hour last weekend, which tacked a little more sunlight onto the end of our days, where most of us have the time to enjoy it! What are you planning to with that extra light? 

You’re probably way ahead of me on this, but I’m going to say it anyway…I think you should use those precious extra minutes of natural light to GO FOR A WALK! I know I say it all the time, but walking is so crucial to our health and wellness that I will keep repeating myself every chance I get. We are anatomically designed to move at a moderate pace, for long periods of time, and what easier way to do that than walking?

We all know that walking has such a positive effect on our health, but I’ll give you a few benefits of regular walking just in case you need a refresher. Regular walking is linked to: lowered blood glucose levels in Type II Diabetics, improved cardiac health, lower body fat percentages, improved mental health, stronger immune systems, better sleep, higher Vitamin D levels, improved cognitive function, lowered stress levels, and increased likelihood of meeting cool dogs and their owners. Okay that last one isn’t scientifically proven, but it’s been my experience.

I’m especially focused on this topic right now, because I am suffering the consequences of roughly 13 hours of enforced sitting. You see, Tuesday I worked as an Elections Official for my state’s Primary Elections. I was honored to serve my community this way, and I enjoyed helping so many people exercise their right to vote. But now, my back is still killing me, my knees hurt, and I feel a bit lethargic. When you’re used to working while standing up and moving around all day, sitting on your tush for hours and hours is not a comfortable way to spend your time. Yes, I took a few short breaks to stretch and get my circulation going, but I’m going to need to focus on some very long walks over the next few days to feel 100% again.

If you are one of the millions of people who’s jobs, or school schedules have you stuck in a chair for too many hours a day (or night) I’m going to suggest that you start building time to walk into your schedule. In a perfect world, we would all be commuting on foot and walking to run our errands instead of driving. But I know most of us do not live in a pedestrian friendly utopia. 
So how can you get more steps into your day, and reap the benefits of walking? I’ve got a few suggestions for you

1. Park far away from your work/school building. Rather than circle the lot looking for the closest parking space, head right for the back row or the overflow lot. With any luck you’l be able clock at least 700 steps each way to and from your car. Just be sure to keep your safety in mind if you’re arriving or leaving in the dark, or traversing a secluded area. 
2. Instead of messaging or emailing colleagues during the work day, walk to their desks to communicate. It’s often more efficient to ask one or two questions, or give information face to face, than to send multiple messages. This allows you to sneak a bit of walking while you’re working and can help build those important office relationships. 
3. Walk during lunch. Too many people stay chained to their desks during lunch breaks. Ahem, even some health coaches use that time to multi-task on occasion. If you can, try to use part of your break time to get some fresh air and sunshine. Even a ten minutes walk can rejuvenate you and help you be more productive. 
4. Swap your usual Happy Hour meet-up for a Walk and Talk. I know, taking a walk doesn’t sound like as much fun as meeting the gang for drinks, but give it a try. You can always grab a cold one as your ‘reward’ for your walk, although I think the walk itself is a big treat. 
5. Walk your dog. Fluffy needs exercise too! So if you’ve got a fur-baby you’ve got a built in reason to walk and a built in buddy. Don’t have a dog? See if you can volunteer to walk a busy neighbor’s dog, or maybe volunteer to walk dogs waiting for their forever families. Most rescue organizations ands shelters are happy to have volunteer dog walkers. And who knows, you might meet the pup of your dreams!

There you have it, five easy ways to walk a little, or a lot, more! Which are you going to try first? Me, I’ll be dictating new articles into my iPhone and hopefully walking our newest addition to the menagerie…but that’s another story for another day.