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Get MOVING! How Just Walking Benefits You Both Physically & Mentally!


Walking is good for your heart. And mind. And pretty much every other aspect of your health.

TheAmerican Heart Association’s National Walking Day is Wednesday, and health experts are using it to raise awareness about the benefits of walking.

“All cardiovascular exercise is great, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all,” said Nellie Kelly, director of communications for the American Heart Association in Tulsa. “It’s the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.”


According to the American Heart Association, research has shown that walking at least 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

Sonja Boswell of the St. John Stroke Center said recent studies have also shown that the risk of stroke decreases by 20 percent for people who walk for 30 minutes three to five days a week, and by 27 percent for those who walk for 30 minutes five to seven days a week.

“Those are really dramatic numbers,” she said.

Walking 30 minutes a day can help people lose weight and lower their cholesterol. It can also help decrease blood pressure by 5-9 mm/Hg, Boswell said.

“That can be as much as some anti-hypertension medications that we prescribe,” she said.

The benefits of walking extend to mental wellness, too

“You’re up, you’re moving, you’re increasing your oxygen flow to your brain,” Boswell said. “It increases mental acuity, it has been shown to increase memory, and it also helps decrease stress and anxiety, and stress and anxiety can be tied back into blood pressure problems.”

Getting started

Michael Watkins of Fitness Together said his job revolves around getting his clients moving. Fitness Together offers personal fitness training to individuals and small groups. It also works with companies to help with their wellness programs for their employees.

Watkins said he tells clients that they can break up the 30 minutes into smaller pieces.

“Set an alarm at your desk, and get up and walk for 10 minutes,” he said.

To get the full benefits, though, Boswell said people should not break up walks into less than 10 minutes. It takes 10 minutes of having your heart rate up to get into what she called a “cardiac zone” where blood vessels widen and blood circulation increases.

Another tip Watkins recommends to beginners is to walk with a friend.

“Going out alone can be daunting,” he said. Walking with a buddy will also keep you accountable.

Boswell said there are many ways to incorporate walking into your day.

“You don’t necessarily have to have gym clothes on,” she said. Park farther away or walk over to talk to a co-worker on another floor or in another building rather than sending an email, she suggests.
National Walking Day

ONEOK started Walking Wednesdays about six months ago.

Robert Babcock, the senior wellness coordinator for ONEOK, said the program encourages the company’s employees to take some time out of their day on Wednesdays to walk.

This Wednesday, on National Walking Day, the company is encouraging downtown workers to join them at 11 a.m. at ONEOK Plaza, 100 W. Fifth St., for a community walking event.

Danny Cahill from “The Biggest Loser” will give a short talk about the importance of walking. A DJ and food vendors will also be at the plaza.

Then, at 11:30 a.m., attendees can join a 30-minute walk around downtown.

Babcock said they have also developed a downtown map showing pre-determined walking routes that they will give out to attendees.

“We’re trying to help get individuals out of the office,” he said.

Nellie Kelly of the American Heart Association said this is part of the message the association is trying to get out.

“We are trying to get people to think about walking on their lunch breaks or to have walking meetings at work, not just to think about walking as an at-home activity,” she said.

Those attending the National Walking Day event at ONEOK Plaza will also have the opportunity to sign up for Heart Walk, scheduled for April 20.

The importance of shoes

Experts say walking has the lowest drop-out rate of all exercise forms. You don’t need lessons or a gym membership or special equipment.

But Michael Watkins of Fitness Together said it is important to have a good pair of shoes.

“The more you walk, the more you notice your feet,” he said. “If your feet are always hurting from walking you’re not going to do it.”

Kathy Hoover at Runners-World Tulsa suggests getting your feet fitted.

Knowing your foot structure and biomenchanics – such as whether you have a high arch or flat foot – will help you find the right shoes.

“Each of the companies will have a shoe for each of those foot structures,” Hoover said.
Original Print Headline: Get moving

HELP! Why can’t I lose weight with exercise?

Like Clarence here… many of us are able to initially lose weight when we start a new fitness program. So why do results begin to slow down? What can you do to make sure you’re continually busting through any and all barriers?

Below is a great article and tips discussing 5 things that can be negatively impacting  your weight loss progress. The article, written by Cynthia Sass, originally appears on

One of my clients sought me out after she trained for her first marathon and gained weight. She thought the pounds would fall off, and couldn’t understand what she was doing wrong.

Dozens of others have asked, “I go to the gym six days a week, why am I’m not losing?”

I know, it doesn’t seem fair. But if you’re in this rut, don’t give up! Keep on exercising, you will see results.

But put these five Dos and Don’ts into action first.

1. Don’t overestimate the impact of your workout
After a good run, or a class that kicked your derriere, you may feel like you’ve earned the right to splurge. The hard truth is, it’s incredibly easy to “eat back” much of what you’ve burned. For example, in a one hour circuit training class, an average woman burns about 550 calories. Not too shabby. But even if 100 percent of that was body fat, which it isn’t (it’s impossible to burn pure body fat, even in the “fat burning zone”), that’s only enough to shed one seventh of a pound.

Treating yourself to a 16-ounce smoothie, a large oatmeal cookie, or a large red velvet fro-yo cancels out more than half of your hard work, whittling your calorie deficit down to less than 300.

Tip: On workout days, stick to your usual healthy eating routine, or if you have the urge to splurge, create some balance—instead of tacking a cookie onto your sandwich order, ditch the bread and opt for a salad topped with lean protein, to make room for those cookie carbs. 30 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Burning Recipes

2. Do focus on the benefits that indirectly affect your weight
Even if exercising didn’t burn a single calorie, it’s still essential for good health, and a smart weight loss strategy. In addition to building muscle, numerous studies have shown that being active reduces stress, and improves sleep quality, two factors that strongly influence your metabolism. One study, which tracked over 60,000 non-obese women for 16 years, found that those who slept five hours or less per night had a 30 percent greater risk of packing on 30 pounds, compared to those who slept a solid seven hours each night. Another Yale study found that non-overweight women who are vulnerable to stress are more likely to carry excess belly fat.

Tip: Rather than obsessing over the calorie reading while on the elliptical, visual yourself happily relaxed and sleeping soundly, two states that translate into a healthier (and thinner) you. Are You Making These Dieting Mistakes? 

3. Don’t overcompensate with food
In addition to “I earned this” splurges, some research shows that exercise may trigger subconscious additional eating. In one study, moderately active women were divided into one of three groups. The first didn’t exercise, while the other two burned 350 calories, working out at different intensities. Those who performed the high-intensity training ate more in the meal that followed the workout than both the low-intensity exercisers and the non-active group.

Tip: If you think you may be unknowingly sneaking extra nibbles, especially after a workout that really got your heart rate up, track yourself. A recent Kaiser Permanente study involving over 1,600 people found that those who kept a food journal seven days a week lost twice as much weight over six months, compared to those who weren’t regular recorders. Rather than self-policing, think of tracking your intake as simply a way of raising your awareness. Nearly every client I’ve ever asked to keep a food diary has found that it resulted in some big light bulb moments, such as suddenly realizing how many free samples or bites from their kids’ plates they take, or how few veggies they actually eat. The 25 Best Diet Tricks of All Time

4. Do make it recreational
You may not think of lawn badminton as “exercise,” but an hour of this activity burns 300 calories, four and a half times more than sitting. One of my clients was surprised that after a day of antiquing, her jeans fit looser, something she doesn’t typically experience the day after her usual workout. Turns out, she had stood or walked for five hours straight, which resulted in burning more calories than her usual eight hours at a desk and one at the gym.

Tip: Whether it’s organizing a game of softball, playing catch with your kids, or going for a family bike ride, find ways to build more movement into each day. Researcher shows that people with dogs walk them a total of five and a half hours a week. By comparison, those without canine companions spend an average of one hour and 20 minutes exercising each week, and nearly half aren’t active at all.

5. Don’t decrease your activity the rest of the day
French researchers recently found that after high intensity exercise sessions, obese teens compensated by decreasing their activity levels later in the day. Another in older adults found that while exercise improved heart health, it didn’t result in burning more daily calories, due to a decrease in activity for the remainder of the day.

Tip: If you’re not sure if you may be offsetting your workouts with more rest, start a daily activity log. Much like a food diary, it will help you get to know your patterns. If you find that you’re more likely to go to bed early, or get sucked into a TV trance on the days you work out, try to notice any patterns. Some workouts may leave you more energized than others, or maybe breaking up your routine into two shorter sessions is a better match for your body chemistry.

This article originally appeared on 

Cynthia Sass is a New York City-based registered dietician and author of S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

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