Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2016

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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42 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fa l l 2 0 1 6 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m on your mood. A 2015 study conducted at Stanford University found that people who walked in a natural setting such as a park, as opposed to a high-traffic urban set- ting, showed fewer symptoms of depres- sion. Walking outdoors can also give you a critical boost of vitamin D. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, one billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. Most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun for ap- proximately 20 minutes a day, with their forearms, hands, or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from March to Oc- tober, especially from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regular walks can also help build and maintain bone density and decrease risk of fractures. In the legendary Nurses' Health Study that followed women for several decades, researchers found that postmenopausal women who walked for at least four hours a week were 40 percent less likely to suffer hip fractures than those who walked less. Surprisingly, walking has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing Al- zheimer's disease. Researchers at the Uni- versity of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that walking six miles each week strengthened the brain's memory circuits. Walking also provides a host of social benefits. A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that those who engaged in outdoor walk- ing groups saw significant improvements in blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, and lung function and were sig- nificantly less depressed. "Taking a friend with you can be a great motivator and help keep you on a consistent schedule," says Rufus Dorsey, a personal trainer in Los Angeles and a volunteer with the American Diabetes Association. "Instead of meeting a fam- THINKSTOCKPHOTOS ily member or friend for lunch, invite them to join you on a walk. When you're walking and catching up with a friend, it doesn't feel like a workout." Make sure you have the right gear Although you don't need a lot of gear to maintain a walking routine, a few basic items can help you get a good (and safe) workout. Dr. Newcomer says the most impor- tant item is a pair of comfortable walking shoes. "Most running stores can measure your foot and recommend a good walk- ing shoe," she says. "If you're flat-footed, you want a shoe with more arch support. Otherwise you're better off with a cush- ioned shoe. Remember to invest in new walking shoes every year or so." Dr. Newcomer recommends bringing along water to stay hydrated, a reflec- tive vest if you're walking at night, and a pedometer or fitness tracker if you want to measure your progress. More serious walkers may want to invest in a heart rate monitor that measures exertion. Plan on performing warm-up stretch- es before your walk and cool-down stretches afterward. is will keep your muscles loose, ease soreness, and help prevent injury. Get motivated with apps and devices A variety of fitness trackers and smart- phone apps are available to help you reach your goals. "For people who are just starting out, a pedometer is a great motivator in tracking steps," Dorsey says. "I also rec- ommend the free smartphone app My FitnessPal to help people keep track of the foods they eat, the activities they do, and the number of calories burned." Tracking steps is a great way to meet, even exceed, your walking goals. A 2007 study from Stanford University found that people who set daily walking goals and used a pedometer walked about 2,000 steps—or one mile—more a day. For those who want more options than a basic pedometer offers, Dorsey recom- DW Life >

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