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I’m going to start by saying I’m not a licensed or an experienced health expert. I want you to know what worked for me and the small things that can help you get on a healthy track without feeling like a workout. I will explain more in this blog. It’s time to come out from couch hibernation and get out and smell some fresh air.
With February coming to an end for National Heart Health Month, I’m ready to MARCH into a new month of being healthy and creating better habits. During the winter months, we tend to stay indoors and eat. When the ice thaw and the weather get warmer we wonder where did all the extra weight come from? Our bodies feel heavier, we have gotten a little sluggish and don’t know where to start with getting back on track. I’ve been up and down with my weight for the last 2 years due to my work schedule and making time to be a wife and mom. I’m also not a big fan of the gym.
My gym experience was walking through the door, my glasses fogging up from the heat coming from people working out. Then you case the gym to look for a free machine to use. Oh great, it one right in between two people working out. They are in shape and running on the treadmill like they’re training for a marathon. Or, maybe it’s me wondering about the guy behind me watching me while I’m on the elliptical and he’s shaking his head and thinking, “this is what she calls working out.”
I can go on with many scenarios. Hey, some people love the gym. There are great Zumba classes, some people prefer to train and lift weights to gain more muscle. Some get personal trainers. All I see is more money being spent and me not going to the gym. Whatever works for you I’m not here to judge. I prefer to be outdoors and check out the scenery. I feel relaxed and it’s a great stress reliever.
I lost weight in the past by walking 4-5 times a week for 90 minutes to 2 hours. I lost a total of 60 lbs and felt great. I felt lighter, I wasn’t squeezing into my favorite pair of jeans. The longest I hiked was for 3 hours. You read 30 minutes a day of exercise is good for the heart but if you’re looking to lose weight, build stamina or release some stress I suggest 1 hour or more. I’m a lover of nature and getting outdoors is great exercise.
With the rise of social media and everything being on our phones or tablets we don’t get out enough and the lack of physical activity can lead to heart disease or other illnesses. Going outdoors is free and no membership is required! I’m ready to get back to being healthy and feel great again. I’m squeezing back into my favorite pair of jeans and I’m not happy with this. I ask myself, “When did all this happen?” I think about the last time I worked out and that was a very long time.
Don’t know where to start? Open your front door and walk around your neighborhood. Wear comfortable shoes and be careful to not trip over any sidewalk cracks. I’ve had my share of almost falling or twisting an ankle. If you’re like me and don’t have sidewalks, go to your local park. If you think it’s safe enough to walk, wear the proper reflector jackets so ongoing traffic can see you, and don’t go walking at night. Start at your own pace. Go walking alone or ask a friend or family member to join you. I prefer going alone sometimes and listening to music. I want to practice good habits at home and show my children they can grow up and do the same things in the future.
After dinner take the family on a nice walk. Catch up with what’s going on with everyone. This will be great family time, a break from TV and social media. Going walking in nature, smelling the fresh air, and looking at the beautiful scenery of trees flowing and the birds chirping can reduce stress levels immediately. Sometimes we need a change of scenery, we need something to get our minds off negative thoughts and we need to add more physical activity to our daily routine.
Get a basic pedometer to count your steps and keep track of your walking routine. You don’t have to buy one of those expensive watches. Try and set a goal for yourself. Each day push yourself to do more than you did the day before.
TIPS TO WALKING TO BETTER HEALTH
- Wear comfortable shoes and thick cotton socks to prevent blisters
- Hiking: Wear proper hiking boots for uneven terrain and rocks to support your ankles
- Go at your own pace
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Go alone or bring a friend (if going alone, make sure someone know in case of an emergency)
- Wear sunscreen and bring insect repellent
- Bring water to drink before and after
- If you plan going on a long hike bring a small backpack with a first aid kit, let someone know where you will be and make sure your phone is charged in case of an emergency
- Relax and think positive thoughts
BENEFITS OF WALKING
- Reduce risk of cancer and chronic disease
- Good for your heart
- Improve your Mood
- Less stress on your joints
- Improve endurance
- FREE no membership required
PLACES TO GO WALKING
There are many trails I’m looking forward to visiting this year. Other then my daily park walks, I’m planning on doing Sunday hikes and crossing off a few places on my bucket list. Many of these walks are surrounded by waterfalls, lakes, historic sites and beautiful overlooks. So while you’re out moving you will also be in store for some great sights. Get out and get healthy while walking to a new adventure.
If you can’t get to many of the destinations I list start with walking in your neighborhood. Walk around your block a few times. Take the dog out for a walk and stay out for a little more time. It can be a benefit to you and I’m sure your dog will love the extra time out. If you’re able to venture further out, visit your local parks, reservations, and check to see what State Park or Hiking Trails are near you. Look for a walking club (Meetup.com have a few groups), have your family or friends tag along. Or get out alone and enjoy some solitude. Before visiting the following trails go online and check for times and watch the weather. Be respectful to other walkers and keep the trails clean. Be safe and enjoy!
- Stairway to Heaven, Vernon, NJ
- Buttermilk Fall, Somerset County
- Stephens State Park
- Schooley’s Mountain Park
- Allamuchy State Park, Sussex Branch Trailhead
- Dickerson Mine Preserve
- Deserted Village
- Hemlock Falls, Maplewood, NJ
- Hacklebarney State Park, Long Valley, NJ Hiking Trails & Waterfalls to Explore
- Watchung Reservation/ Trailside Nature and Science Center, Mountainside, NJ
- Pyramid Mountain, Boonton, NJ
- High Point State Park, Sussex County, NJ
- Duke Farms (not a farm) Hillsborough Township, NJ
- Eagle Rock Reservation, West Orange, NJ
- Berkshire Valley Trail, Morris County, NJ
- Roxbury Township https://d1wc0xwfo04ccn.cloudfront.net/roxbury/assets/doc_mgr/4301491.pdf?ts=20200319122655
- Turkey Mountain Trail, Yorktown, NY
- Buttermilk State Park, Tompkins County, NY
- Watkins Glen State Park, Schuyler County, NY
- Overlook Mountain, Woodstock, NY
- Mount Marcy, Lake Placid, NY
- Sleeping Beauty Mountain, Fort Anne, NY
- Rim and Gorge Trail, Robert H. Treman State Park, Ithaca, NY
- Kaaterskill Falls Trail, Elka Park, NY
- Sam’s Point and Verkeerderkill Falls, Cragsmoor, NY
- Bear Mountain Trail, Stony Point, NY
- Big Pocono State Park, Tannersville, PA
- Crescent Lake, Tannersville, PA
- Delaware State Forest, Swiftwater, PA
- Bushkill Falls, Bushkill, PA
- Doylestown Bike and Hiking Trails,
- Promised Lnad State Park, Greentown, PA