Put on those sneakers: tomorrow is National Walk to Work Day! Born eight years ago, the holiday is intended to raise awareness of obesity and the downsides of Americans’ increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
Walking is a gentle, low-impact workout that is a great group activity or peaceful on your own. Not only does it burn calories, but there are also many other benefits to adding even just a 30-minute walk to your day. It can reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease and diabetes, and decrease low-density lipoprotein (the “bad” cholesterol) while increasing high-density lipoprotein (the “good” kind).
Things to remember before you step out: Wear comfortable footwear. Stash those high heels in your bags, ladies, and save them for the office. You’ll want shoes with correct arch support, a firm heel and a cushy, flexible sole for absorbing shock. And don’t forget to warm up! Before a brisk walk, proper stretching is vital for avoiding injury. Pay special attention to your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and sides, as those are the muscles you’ll be working the most.
If you’re not a seasoned stroller, start out slow. Don’t overdo it! (Especially tomorrow; you don’t want to arrive at the office tired and sweaty.) End your exercise with a leisurely five-minute stroll followed by stretches so your muscles don’t stiffen up.
If you’re not headed into the office on Friday (or it’s too far a walk from your house), don’t worry: the point of National Walk to Work Day is to get Americans moving—any way possible. So take a half-hour stroll during your lunch break or go for an after-dinner walk with your family. Together we’ll march toward becoming a healthier, happier nation.