(Photo above | Courtesy of Commute Options)
We all know that physical activity is good for us and many of us make the effort to include an hour of exercise a day. However, research now shows that you can’t necessarily offset ten hours of sitting with one hour of exercise.
“Active sedentary” is relatively new term for people who are active for a short period of their day, then sit and remain inactive for the rest of the day. Perhaps this sounds like you—you take an early morning jog, sit down for breakfast, sit in your car as you drive to work, sit at your desk for eight hours, drive home, sit for dinner, then sit in front of a screen as you end your day. As a writer, I am all too guilty of exercising for an hour, then sitting at my desk for the rest of the day!
Regular activity has been engineered out of our lives in the last few decades. We use cars to get nearly everywhere, we push a button on our garage door instead of physically lifting it and we take the elevator instead of the stairs. What if you could incorporate short periods of activity into your day—without needing to change into gym clothes or break a sweat?
Try going for a walk — it just may be the answer you are looking for. It’s been called the “superfood of physical activity.”
Walking is truly the easiest, cheapest and most accessible form of physical activity and it is particularly important for elderly, disabled and lower income people who have fewer opportunities to participate in sports or formal exercise programs. Not everyone wants (or can afford) a ski pass, a fancy mountain bike or a pass to the gym, but nearly everyone can use walking to incorporate regular physical activity.
How can we, as individuals and communities, walk more?
• Take the bus. Studies show that transit riders get twenty more minutes of physical exercise a day than non-transit riders. Riding the bus means you could include more walking between your destination and the bus station.
• Park further away. If you live too far away from your workplace and must drive, consider parking further away and walking to your workplace from there. As an added benefit, you might save money on parking fees!
• Support measures for walkable communities. Get involved in your neighborhood association, parks and recreation district and local government. Local cities are actively working towards designing and building sidewalks, paths and walking trails.
• Just do it. Walk to meetings, walk to lunch, walk your kids to school, and of course, walk your dog. Can you walk to the post office to drop off those bills? Can you walk to a dinner date, then get a ride back? Get creative and get walking.
“Walking is one of the simplest ways to incorporate more activity into your daily life. With warmer weather and longer days, we encourage everyone to get walking whenever they can,” adds Jeff Monson, executive director for Commute Options.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. www.katybryce.com