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Walking is a proven way to keep in step with your health

AIESHA BANKS • May 1, 2020 at 9:00 AM

As the executive director of Healthy Kingsport, I am very proud of Kingsport and our active walkers.

While driving around the community to relieve cabin fever, I see a lot of walking in the community. Several years ago, Prevention magazine named Kingsport as one of the top cities for walking, noting the relatively flat terrain and adequate walking paths that today total almost 86 miles. The days are longer and weather is warmer, so now is a good time to go walk one or two of those 86 miles.

When it comes to exercise, no one can deny the benefits of walking. An online article in “Rodale News,” a health publication extols “8 Astonishing Benefits of Walking.” According to the article, walking

1. Deflects diabetes

2. Saves you on gym costs

3. Can get you off meds

4. Helps fade fibromyalgia pain

5. Helps you beat breast cancer

6. Reduces the risk of stroke

7. Saves your mind

In fact, walking is the best way to get started on a road to improved health. The best part is it is relatively inexpensive and can be done anywhere. As COVID-19 continues to keep us socially distant, staying active can be a challenge.

MOVE WITH US

All you have to do is visit our website, healthykingsport.org, click on the JOIN WALKER TRACKER icon, at the top of the page to sign up, or visit our Facebook page for a How-To video on downloading the app.

You can link your tracking devices to the app, or you can input your steps and activities manually. The app will begin to track your steps and enter you into our 4 Million Mile City featured challenge, as well as our “Stayin’ In but Workin’ Out” challenge series.

Already a Walker Tracker participant? Awesome! Log in and join the challenges! Each challenge will last two weeks and will end May 1.

Walking is a low-impact activity and doesn’t place the stress on your joints like running, jumping or even dancing. This makes it ideal for older adults, folks prone to joint pain, and those interested in transitioning from a sedentary to a more active lifestyle.

DID YOU KNOW?

Consistent, routine walking can, according to the Mayo Clinic, lower your LDL “bad” cholesterol and boost your HDL “good” cholesterol while at the same time improving your weight, overall fitness and mood.

And if you walk outside, you will get the added benefit of vitamin D, a key nutrient many Americans often lack. Vitamin D helps provide protection from osteoporosis, high blood pressure and cancer.

Just like any exercise, form is important and a good fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. This is the ideal way to walk for improved health and performance:

1. Head up and look forward

2. Neck, shoulders and back are relaxed

3. Swing your arms freely with a slight bend at the elbows.

4. Stomach muscles are slightly tightened and your back is straight—not arched forward or backward

5. Roll your foot from heel to toe

It’s also a good idea to plan before you start out on any fitness routine including walking.

Get the right gear. Pick shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. If you walk outside in the dark, wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility.

Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.

Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.

Until next week, keep moving Kingsport and remember I am so proud of my community. Go out for 10 minutes right now and get your “Walking On” to a healthier you.

Keeping our readers mentally and physically active is our goal! Healthy Kingsport’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages will be ramping up the effort to help people that are staying at home. Our social media platforms will also educate you to stay active, be engaged and eat well.

Healthy Kingsport is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a community that actively embraces healthy living by promoting wellness, enhancing infrastructure, and influencing policy.

Aiesha Banks is the Executive Director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at abanks@healthykingsport.org

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