Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2016

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

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d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Fa l l 2 0 1 6 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 43 DW Life > T he national nonprofit GirlTrek has an ambitious goal. The four-year-old organization hopes to improve the health of black women across the country with weekly walking groups and by encouraging members to walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week. "Over 65,000 women have signed the GirlTrek pledge, and we hope to hit one million trekkers by 2018," says Jewel Bush, national director of com- munications for GirlTrek (girltrek.org). Founded in 2012 by Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, two friends who realized the health benefits of walking, GirlTrek strives to improve the overall health of black women. Statistics show that black women have been hit hard- est by the obesity epidemic, resulting in higher rates of heart disease risks such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Bush says walkers across the country take the online GirlTrek pledge, agree- ing to walk in their neighborhood every Saturday and to encourage others to do the same. Women can participate as solo walkers or as part of a group. Through private Facebook group pages, walkers can post their progress, connect with other walkers, and receive support and continued motivation. GirlTrek currently has chapters in a number of cities, among them Detroit, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Bush says GirlTrek also offers monthly challenges. In June, members were encouraged to free themselves from things that were holding them back, such as debt, junk food, or toxic relationships. "We encouraged members to replace their bad habit with walking," Bush says. "Those who made it a full 100 miles in the month of June were awarded an Ultimate Trek T-shirt." For women who have taken the GirlTrek pledge, Bush says the benefits go far beyond walking: trekkers have offered testimonials on how they lost weight, improved their health, beat de- pression, and forged new friendships. "We hear so many stories from women who tell us how GirlTrek changed their lives," Bush says. "And in many cases, they credit the organiza- tion with helping to save their lives by lowering their risk of chronic illnesses." Join the GirlTrek Movement mends fitness trackers with features such as heart-rate monitoring and alerts that remind you to get up and walk around. "ere is no one-size-fits-all fitness de- vice," Dorsey says. "e right activity track- er for you is based on your individual needs and the amount you're looking to pay." Taking walking to the next level Many fitness devices advocate taking 10,000 steps per day, a rough equivalent to the surgeon general's recommendation to accumulate 30 minutes of physical ac- tivity most days of the week. e Cen- ters for Disease Control and Prevention agrees that adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, such as brisk walking. If bad weather, neighborhood safety, traffic, or a lack of accessible restrooms prevents you from walking outdoors and meeting your daily goals, consider mall walking. Call your local mall to find out if it has a formal mall-walking program, or if it can open the doors early for walkers. If the weather is inclement and you can't get out, there are work-arounds. Lisa Lil- lien, creator of the Hungry Girl website and a series of books, including Hungry Girl Clean and Hungry: Easy All-Natural Recipes for Healthy Eating in the Real World, says she relies on house walking to help her meet her goal of 10,000 steps a day. "I found that when I was low on steps in the afternoon, I'd just stroll around the house to get the number up, and now I'm averaging 20,000 steps a day," Lillien says. "And the best part is you don't even need a houseā€”an apartment or hotel room will do. Just walk in place while watching TV or talking on the phone." If you're new to walking, Dr. Newcomer recommends starting with 5,000 steps a day and gradually increasing to 10,000. "Aim for 30 minutes of walking or other physical activity most days of the week," she says. "If you don't have 30 minutes to devote to a walk, try breaking it up into 10- or 15-minute increments, until daily walks become a habit." DW Linda Childers has written for More, Redbook, and Ladies' Home Journal.

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