Everyday Wellness: Put your best foot forward

March 17, 2011

Forget "no pain, no gain." Research shows that regular, brisk walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, like jogging. So take a walk around campus, use a treadmill at an on-campus fitness center, or check out an item from the WorkLife Programs Resource Center, and walk your way to good health.

Walking is an easy, safe and inexpensive way to get and stay in shape. Like other exercise, walking can improve your health by:
* Reducing your stress level.
* Improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
* Improving strength and balance to prevent falls for those with osteoporosis.
* Lowering risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, breast and colon cancer, and osteoporosis.
* Making you stronger and more fit.
* Causing a surge in your brain's endorphin and serotonin levels that will lift your mood.
* Helping you manage your weight.

How Purdue can help

* Walking tours
Two Purdue campuses offer self-guided walking tours that will take you around key areas and buildings on campus.
-- West Lafayette: www.purdue.edu/vic/_docs/destinations_self-tour.pdf
-- IPFW: virtualtour.ipfw.edu/tour/

* WorkLife Programs Resource Center
If you are ready to get moving, the WorkLife Programs Physical Activity Resource Guide is a good resource that includes walking routes on the West Lafayette campus. Download a copy from www.purdue.edu/hr/pdf/physicalActivityResourceGuide.pdf.

WorkLife Programs has a library of materials available for Purdue faculty and staff. Books, CDs, DVDs, equipment and videos may be borrowed for up to three weeks. Log in with your career account and password at www.purdue.edu/worklife, and then click Resource Center on the left-hand side.

* On-campus fitness centers
-- West Lafayette
Purdue Recreational Sports Center: www.purdue.edu/recsports/index.php
A.H. Ismail Center: www.cla.purdue.edu/ismail

-- Calumet
Fitness Center: https://webs.purduecal.edu/fitnesscenter/ 

-- Fort Wayne
Hilliard Gates Sports Center:  https://new.ipfw.edu/fitness/
-- North Central
Fitness Center:  www.pnc.edu/activities/fitness.html
Walking isn't as likely to lead to injuries as other types of exercise, but it's good to take time to prepare so you can prevent blisters or muscle pain.

* Get the right gear: Be sure to wear supportive shoes, and dress in layers of loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. If you walk outside, make sure your clothes are appropriate for the weather. Be safe -- wear bright colors or reflective tape after dark so you can be seen by drivers.

* Use the proper technique: Walking is great exercise, but you need to guard against injury. Visit www.walking.about.com/cs/beginners/a/howposture.htm for the proper technique.

* Warm up and stretch: Spend about five minutes warming up and stretching your muscles (calf, thigh, hamstring and side).

* Cool down after each session: Cooling down is as important as warming up. It helps reduce the stress on your heart and muscles. End each session by walking slowly for about five minutes.

If you're ready to start a walking fitness program:

* Go slowly. If you've been at it for a while, keep doing what you're doing. If you're just starting, go slowly and walk only as far or as fast as you can comfortably. Try starting with 5 to 10 minutes each day, and work up to 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week. Remember that some movement is better than none.

* Consider investing in a pedometer. Guidelines suggest walking 10,000 steps per day; that's close to five miles. Wearing a pedometer is an easy way to track your steps. You might be surprised how many (or few) steps you get in each day. There are even pedometer applications for your smart phone (check with your carrier).

* Check your heart rate. Knowing your heart rate allows you to increase intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it. Check your pulse at the neck or wrist, or wear an electronic heart rate monitor. Most fitness experts recommend exercising between 55 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate subtract your age from 220. Multiply that number by .55, and multiply the same number by .85. Example: If you are age 40, your target heart rate is between 99 and 157.
220 - 40 = 180
180 x .55= 99
180 x .85= 157

If you have difficulty taking your pulse, you can use "conversational pace" as a gauge to whether or not you're within your range. According to the American Heart Association, "if you can talk and walk at the same time, you aren't working too hard. If you can sing and maintain your level of effort, you're probably not working hard enough. If you get out of breath quickly, you're probably working too hard."

* Make it a family affair. Start a new tradition of walking together at least once a week. Take a walk around the block or through the park.

For more information and resources, or to read past and current articles, go to www.purdue.edu/everydaywellness.


* Physical Activity Resource Guide from WorkLife Programs: www.purdue.edu/hr/pdf/physicalActivityResourceGuide.pdf
* Target heart rate calculator (American Cancer Society): www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/calculators/app/target-heart-rate-calculator
* How to determine your target heart rate:  www.essortment.com/determine-target-heart-rate-zone-27360.html

American Cancer Society
American Heart Association