Healthy Beginnings

Ready, Set Walk! Walk Your Way to a Healthy Halloween

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What do we think of when we think of October? Pumpkins, harvest festivals, crisp fall breezes, apple cider and, of course, Halloween festivities.

Now, what do we think of when we think of Halloween? Costumed children – and adults – scary movies, spooky, spider- themed parties, haunted houses and, of course, trick-or-treating.

While it’s true that Halloween compels us to eat one-too-many hors d’oeuvres, drink one-too-many apple cocktails and indulge in one-too-many pieces of candy, we often don’t think about the one healthy thing that Halloween does compel us to do – walk.

Trick-or-treating encourages children, family members and friends to
enjoy fresh air, explore our local neighborhoods and walk – uphill and downhill, left to right. Walking regularly helps us:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Strengthen bones and muscles
  • Improve mood, balance and coordination

Improve cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation 
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 
that adults should do moderate- 
intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes 
a day, 5 days a week. Walking is an extremely effective, and undervalued, 
form of exercise. Walking will give you a break from the demanding routines of daily life – a nice plus for mental health. Help yourself build a daily walking routine with these tips:

  • Set yourself up for success: Start
with a simple goal, such as, “I’ll take
a 10-minute walk during my lunch break.” When your 10-minute walk becomes a habit, set a new goal, such as, “I’ll walk for 20 minutes after work.”
  • Make walking enjoyable: If you don’t enjoy walking alone, ask a friend or neighbor to join you. If you enjoy group interactions, join or create a 
 walking group. Try listening to music while you walk.
  • Vary your routine: If you walk outdoors, plan several different routes for variety. If you’re walking alone,
be sure to tell someone which route you’re taking. Walk in safe, well-lit locations.

One of the nice things about walking is that you don’t need a special skill, just walk naturally and comfortably. However, if you want to aim for an ideal stride, follow these tips on walking form:

  • Keep your posture erect with your chin up, your eyes forward and your shoulders square.
  • Keep your back straight, belly at and butt tucked in.
  • Keep your arms close to your torso, bent at the elbow.
  • Take a natural stride, but try to lengthen your stride as you improve.
  • Land on your heels, and then roll forward to push off with your toes.
  • Swing your arms with each stride and keep up a steady, rhythmic cadence.

Are you ready to get outside and walk Northern Nevada’s lovely neighborhoods and trails this fall? We are! If you’re preparing your children for a fun night of trick-or-treating, stay safe and have a freaky fun time with these tips:

  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  • Carry a flashlight and use in poorly-lit areas.
  • Walk – don’t run – from house to house.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Use sidewalks and crosswalks when possible.
  • Wear well- fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.

References:

  1. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/ fitness/ in-depth/walking/art-20046261?pg=1
  2. www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/ Walking-Your-steps-to-health
  3. www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/index.htm