Walk your way to fitness, health

Sandra R. Cain Extension director

A daily walk is a wonderful way to maintain a healthy weight. A 30-45 minute walk can help to lower your stress level, improve your mood, boost your immune system, reduce your risk of disease and even help you sleep better at night.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get started …

Walk and talk: Walking and talking with a friend is good for your body, good for your heart and good for your soul. Walking and talking with children or grandchildren is an active way to spend some quality time together. It can also be a time to discuss serious issues, like school or grades, in a less threatening atmosphere.

Walk and listen: Music lightens every step – and it seems to make time go faster. Pick your favorite tunes, pick up the pace, and sing along if you want! Walking and listening to books “on tape” is another fun way to add extra value to your daily walk. Language tapes, CDs, or Podcasts also make ideal walking companions.

Walk and learn: A new language is just one of the many things you can learn on a walk. With kids, you can count different colored cars, talk about how plants change with the season or listen for new sounds. Perhaps it’s time to start a list of different birds in your neighborhood..

Walk and shop: Using your legs for transportation is a simple way to accomplish two things at the same time. Put on a backpack for your purchases – and walk to the grocery store, walk to the post office or walk around town to do errands. If you live too far to walk all the way from home, drive to a central location and walk from there.

Walk and enjoy: Enjoyment is the key to success for all fitness activities – because, over the long haul, you’ll only stick with what you like to do. Some people enjoy doing the same walk every day, while others want a different route every time they go out.

If you are not used to walking, start slow. Start out warming up with a five-minute, slower paced walk. Slow your pace to cool down during the last five minutes of your walk.

Start at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Then gradually pick up speed until you’re walking briskly — generally about 3 to 4 miles an hour. You should be breathing hard, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation. Each week, add about 2 minutes to your walking time. Aim to walk at least five days per week.

Source: N.C. Division of Public Health


Hawaiian Ham Salad Pockets

1 ¼ cups cubed fully cooked lean ham

¾ cup unsweetened pineapple tidbits

1 large carrot, chopped

¼ cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey mustard

2 pita breads (6 inches), halved

4 lettuce leaves

In a small bowl, combine the ham, pineapple, and carrot. Stir in the mayonnaise and mustard until blended. Line each pita half with a lettuce leaf. Fill with ham salad. Yield: 4 servings.

Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at

Sandra R. Cain Extension director R. Cain Extension director
Walk your way to fitness, health
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