The OUR Wellness Program will be starting its semester activity challenge this month. Once again, it will be a Steps Challenge. One positive thing about this pandemic is that many people started to exercise more. I know I did. It was a great way to pass all that alone time, and it gave people more time to exercise as we worked from home (less time spent in traffic getting to and from work).
When the pandemic hit, I was trying to keep things as "normal" as possible (which most people were recommending), so I would still get up at my normal time and do my morning routine. Unfortunately, I would then find myself sitting on the couch doing nothing, as I wasn't driving into the college on a daily basis. That wasn't "normal". Keeping things "normal" was no longer "normal," and I think many of us can agree on that. So, I decided to change things up in my (ab)normal routine. I started walking my dogs (Penny – the "pulling" German Shepard, and Dodger – the "everyone should pet me" Chocolate Lab) in the morning instead of at night. This would normally be the time that I would be sitting in traffic trying to get to the college. By the time I got back from my walk, it was time to start my day (remote instruction). Just as I would as if I were on campus. This (ab)normal routine almost made me feel "normal" again, and it was beneficial for my body too. I was getting my 10,000 steps per day, which is recommended by the American Heart Association. It also helped to relieve the stress of the whole pandemic situation.
Increased Bone Health
Many bone-related injuries affect individuals every year. You have probably heard of some of the major culprits, which include arthritis and osteoporosis. Luckily, one of the best ways to improve bone health and bone integrity is through weight-bearing activity, or activities involving standing. Bone adapts to the stressors placed upon it, including standing, which can help solidify current bone and contribute to increased osteoblast activity, which your body uses to build new bone. This can be a crucial step in slowing down the aging process.
Decreased Stress and Anxiety
With the Covid -19 pandemic, many people are feeling more depressed, anxious, and socially isolated. Getting outside and moving can be a great way to combat these problems. With exercise, endorphins are released, leading to elevated levels of both serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals act as feel-good hormones in your body and can be a great way to help improve your mood. Additionally, it presents another safe open to pandemic socialization, as it is outside and can be done at any distance. We recommend finding a close friend and using a mask!
Simply put, walking is an easy form of exercise. It can be a great adjunct to a current workout plan or serve as one in its own right. Every minute spent moving is a minute toward increasing your longevity and lifespan. More time moving means less time sitting, which can contribute to a shorter lifespan. Recent studies have shown that sedentary lifestyles can put people at risk to live on average a minimum of two years shorter than more active individuals.
Increased Time Outside
In addition to walking, more time outside can further increase your feel-good endorphins, aiding mood. Being outside can have other benefits, all of which can help your physical well-being. Vitamin D, which humans receive naturally from the sun, is an important part of health and well-being. Vitamin D helps out with calcium to form strong bones, which when coupled with the bone benefits of walking make exercising outdoors a great one-two punch! Lastly, being outside in the sun helps normalize your circadian rhythm, which in turn will help your sleep cycle, helping you succeed in getting a restful night’s sleep!
No Equipment Needed
Perhaps the best advantage of walking is accessibility. With the short supply of exercise equipment due to the pandemic, walking is one of the main forms of exercising that can be completed without any equipment! Simply get outside and walk around your neighborhood or local high school track. In a time where a majority of people are finding themselves working from home, it is more plausible to take a quick walk around the neighborhood during lunch. The best form of exercise is one that you can commit to and stay consistent with, and walking is a great start!