One of the best ways to stay healthy and spend time together as a family is to take a walk together. Daily walks can improve your cardiovascular fitness, reduce joint pain and support overall wellness.
On a practical level, walking is an inexpensive activity. It requires no equipment besides supportive, comfortable athletic shoes. Walking is a good social activity, providing opportunities for conversation with friends and family.
Benefits of a 30-minute walk
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate to vigorous walking can reduce anxiety and increase memory, sleep and brain function. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found walking or jogging for 30 minutes five times per week helps blood flow in and out of the brain. It does not matter whether you walk on a treadmill or take a walk in your neighborhood — the benefits are the same.
“Both will provide similar benefits, so the best option between treadmill vs. track is the one you enjoy doing and have regular/easiest access to and will, therefore, be the best option to help you stick with your walking routine,” said Amanda Paluch, assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and Institute for Applied Life Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Walking is easy on your joints
If you have arthritis, walking is one of the best activities you can do. Consistent walking can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Staying within the recommended body mass index (BMI) reduces strain on joints and reduces symptoms of joint pain and arthritis.
How much should you walk? Remember the FIT Formula:
Frequency — Try to walk three to five times per week. Talk to your doctor if you are just beginning your routine.
Intensity — You may need to begin with a lower level of intensity and gradually increase over time. Try to work up to a moderate to vigorous level of intensity. Don’t overdo it; an injury will set you back and may take a long time to heal.
Time — Try to walk for 30 minutes per day. If you can’t walk for 30 minutes, just begin with five minutes. Every day, you will get stronger and have more endurance.
Parks as recreational options
Living close to parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities are related to increased levels of physical activity for adults and children. Parks also help people connect to nature, which can relieve stress and improve mental health and mood. According to NRPA Park Pulse, 86 percent of adults think it is important to spend time outside in nature when things get stressful.
Whether you are walking, jogging or playing with your family in the park, exercise can accomplish the following:
- Relieve joint pain
- Boost immunity
- Fight obesity
- Reduce breast cancer risk
- Decrease sugar cravings
- Help maintain body weight
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of type II diabetes
- Strengthen the musculoskeletal system
Family Fitness Day is June 10
You can celebrate your renewed commitment to health on June 10 — Family Health and Fitness Day. You and your family can participate in this initiative by participating in recreational programs and activities in your community. There are limitless possibilities, from a game of kickball to a family 5K. You can always begin with a leisurely outdoor walk at a park in your hometown.
Call your orthopedist to manage joint pain
Are you living with joint pain? Call your orthopedist to make an appointment to discuss your mobility and activity level. Your doctor can determine the cause of your joint pain and provide treatment options. Get active on Family Health and Fitness Day and have fun with your family!