Why Walking is Where It’s At

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Spring weather means more time outside enjoying the fresh air.  With the Boston Marathon coming up is this Monday, runners are out and about showing off their #BostonStrong pride on the roads.  We live right on the official marathon route and it’s wonderful to see so many people training hard. In fact, usually the day after the marathon, the roads are full of enthusiastic joggers, who clearly didn’t run 26.2 miles the day before! But is running really where it’s at?  What if you are overweight, out of shape, older, have achy joints or simply don’t enjoy running?  How can you get fit?

Thankfully, the “no pain, no gain,” mentality has been debunked.  Walking has emerged over the past decade as the ultimate form of physical activity.  Exercise and physical activity are actually different.  All forms of exercise, like cycling, weight training, yoga, running count as physical activity, but not all physical activity has to mean traditional exercise.  That’s right, leave those sweatbands at home and opt for some comfortable sneakers, hiking shoes or even bare feet (if you have a glass-free route).

Here’s how you can Walk your Way to Wellness and why it’s so healthy for you from the inside out.  Walking is one of the best forms of exercise during your Reboot.  While it’s certainly possible to jog or run while rebooting, the first few days of juice only it’s really important to take it slow. Throughout your reboot’s duration, matching your activity with your nutrient intake is important for maximizing benefits and limiting symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, fainting, or negative blood pressure effects.  For those working out while on just juice, be sure to include at least one serving of an electrolyte rich beverage like unsweetened coconut water or organic vegetable broth (regular, not low sodium).  For more on fitness during your reboot, read here.

Moderate intensity exercise is suggested for providing the most benefits with the least likelihood of harm.  Intense exercise or “over training” has been shown to actually increase unwanted amounts of inflammation in the body and may even suppress the immune system.  This goes for anyone trying to get fit with a pre-existing health condition or anyone, anywhere tackling what their body deems as “too much, too fast.”

It is important to adjust exercise intensity and duration to be active without overdoing it.  It is suggested to start off slowly and build up intensity and duration of exercise gradually.  For example, going for 2, 15 minute walks can be just as effective as going for one, 30 minute walk.  Taking some days off or scaling back is also important to balance activity and rest.  In addition to walking, yoga has received attention for its helpfulness in reducing anxiety, stress and depression.

Walking for 30 minutes in total, 5 days a week, or about 3-5 hours a week, along with light to moderate strength training 2-3 times a week is ideal.  Read all about the American College of Sports Medicine’s most recent guidelines here.

13 Tips for adding more activity into your everyday life

  1. Walk your dog, or volunteer to walk your friend’s dog if you don’t have one!
  2. Play with your children at the park.  Go across the monkey bars or use stair railings for dips, kick the soccer ball, play tag… just have fun!
  3. Tag exercise to a behavior you’re already doing.  For example, light flexibility or strength exercises before getting into the shower or brushing your teeth each day.
  4. Take the stairs one or more flights instead of the elevator.
  5. Take public transportation or walk to run errands when feasible.
  6. Get off the bus or train one stop early to walk.
  7. Get up from your desk and move for 5 minutes every hour.
  8. Practice chair yoga at your desk and stretch for a few minutes every hour.
  9. Sit at your desk on an exercise ball or use a standing desk.
  10. Sign up for a fun fitness class with a friend.
  11. Carry a basket of groceries instead of using a shopping cart.
  12. Do calf raises, bicep curls or shoulder presses with 16 oz (1 pound) of BPA-free canned, boxed or bottled goods while waiting in line at the store.
  13. Turn on music while cooking or juicing and move to the beat or break out into dance.

Walking has also emerged as an excellent form of activity for cancer patients in treatment as well as survivors post-treatment.  In fact, women with breast cancer who walk 3-5 hours a week had a 40% reduced risk of their cancer coming back!  Read more in Coping Magazine here.

Looking for specific juices to support your physical activity?  Beets may boost exercise endurance and turmeric, pineapple and tart cherries can help reduce inflammation in your joints.  Try these delicious recipes!

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Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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