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Small Changes for Better Health

KIM HUGHES –

We’ve all heard how most Americans need to get more physical activity. Two-thirds of people in the United States weigh more than they should and nearly three-quarters don’t get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.

As the days get longer and warmer, think about participating in Walk Across Polk County, an 8-week walking and exercise program that can help you achieve your goals of better health.  Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Look for opportunities to reduce sedentary time and increase active time. For example, instead of watching TV, try taking a walk after dinner.
  • Just as you schedule medical appointments, schedule time for physical activity. Write it on your calendar; then when asked to do something, you can honestly say you already have plans.
  • Start with activities, locations, and times you enjoy. For example, some people might like walking in their neighborhood in the mornings; others might prefer an exercise class at a health club after work.
  • Try activities with friends or family members to help with motivation and mutual encouragement. Knowing a friend is meeting you at the track at 6 am may motivate you to not turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.
  • Start slowly and work your way up to more physically challenging activities. Remember, small steps add up, so make them count!
  • When necessary, break up your daily activity goal into smaller amounts of time. For example, you could break the 30-minute a day recommendation into three 10-minute sessions or two 15-minute sessions. Just make sure the shorter sessions are at least 10 minutes long.

To help you begin making these small steps, get eight friends together and form a team for Walk Across Polk County.  Originally begun as a walking program, it has expanded to include all types of exercise, and minutes are counted instead of miles.

The registration deadline is March 13, with the program beginning on Sunday, March 22.  The $10 per person fee covers a blood test before and after the program to check cholesterol and blood sugar.

To find out more about this exercise program sponsored by the Extension Service and Quality of Life Outreach, Inc., contact Kim Hughes at 211 DeQueen Street, Mena, or call 479-394-6018.

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