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Take a Walk!

January 23, 2012


 Most of us are fortunate to be able to walk.  It doesn’t take a bunch of fancy equipment or an expensive gym  membership.  We can walk in most climates and locations.  Those of us at most any age and in various stages of physical health and shape can walk.

From a physical health perspective, the benefits of walking have been well studied and documented.  In addition to weight management and lowering blood pressure, according to Leah Zerbe in 8 Astonishing Benefits of Walking, walking also decreases stroke risk, increases the survival risk of breast cancer patients by as much as 45%, decreases fibromyalgia pain, prevents heart disease, and decreases the number of medications you’re likely to take overall.

And if that isn’t incentive enough to pull on your sneakers, here are a few more of the health/mental health benefits of walking, according to Arthritis Today: walking helps you manage stress, slows mental decline and lowers Alzheimer’s risk, improves sleep, boosts the mood of depressed patients by releasing endorphins, and serves as a form of meditation.  Linda J. Brown explains in Mindful Walking, that Walking Meditation combines the principles of meditation (breathing, concentration and relaxation) with rhythmic walking.

San Diego State researchers suggest aiming for 1000 steps in 10 minutes and increasing to 3000 steps in 30 minutes.

Our Vista Hill SmartCare teams have been encouraging walking through our Wellness events in the communities we serve. Just before the holidays, our Pauma Valley team approached the entire student body of Valley Center Elementary School of 495 3rd – 5th graders. Our presentation, which was about the benefits of walking and how to use a pedometer, challenged the students to keep a Walking Log over their vacation.

After a two week break, Almost 40 students returned their completed logs with their recorded steps, in exchange for a health related prize!

Here are some of their comments of how they walked:

“walking, running and skipping”; “with the dog, kitten, park, beach, inside and outside”; “going shopping, walking around my     house”;  “walking to my neighbor’s house”;  “walked in circles”;  “I was running around for Christmas”;  “long hike”;  “walked around my neighborhood”

 Also, in Ramona, several Seniors (and others so inclined!) arrive early every Tuesday morning to meet one of our Behavioral Health Educators at the Ramona Senior Center to participate in their Walking Club.  The pace is set by those participating that week.

Campo residents, including families, have joined another of our Educators at Lake Morena for weekly walks.  These will start up again in the Spring.  If you live in Ramona, Campo or Pauma Valley and would like company and/or encouragement for your walks, please call Vista Hill SmartCare at 760.788.9725.

mindful walking

Pamela Bryson, LCSW

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