Thursday, April 16, 2009

Walk Your Way Into Spring

(ARA) - When it comes to weight loss, activity is essential to obtaining results and supporting a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity can produce long term health benefits and is a key component in the fight against obesity and being overweight, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Spring is the perfect time to learn how easy it is to get started.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans released by HHS states that adults can gain substantial health benefits from physical activity by doing two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity coupled with strength training activities. A review by the American College of Sports Medicine states that a greater level of activity is needed to prevent weight gain, produce weight loss, or maintain a weight loss. Maintenance of a weight loss takes the most activity -- 250 minutes a week. Starting slow and maintaining motivation are key to staying active for the long term. A great way to get started is to join a walking team and set a goal such as walking a 5K. The camaraderie and team spirit will help you stay motivated and keep you on track.

To boost your weight-loss efforts, Weight Watchers has engaged the Active Network, a leading online community that promotes exercise, to help encourage the importance of physical activity and support efforts to get more active. Active.com trainer Jenny Hadfield suggests the following tips to start moving more:

Go for the Goal
Whether it’s to walk in a 5K, or simply set up a course in the neighborhood to walk with friends, set a tangible goal. Write that goal on paper and mark a date to reach it to stay accountable. Keep in mind that trainers estimate it takes an average of three weeks to form a new habit and eight weeks to prepare for a 5K (3.1 miles).

Evolution Versus Revolution
Evolve into a fitness routine; don’t give your body a reason to revolt. Start where you are instead of where you want to be to prevent injury or burn out. To determine your level of activity, get a pedometer and see how many steps you take in a day. Each week, try to increase the number of steps by 500 to 1,000 with a long-term goal of walking 10,000 steps per day.

Switch to Manual
Bypassing everyday conveniences can help a person move more. Take the stairs. Climb the escalator. Keep your car parked at a large strip mall and trek from store to store. Walk to your coworker’s office instead of calling or e-mailing them. These small changes can add up to big results.

Get Fit with Friends and Family
Gather a group of friends and set a time to walk or run each week. The commitment provides a built-in source of accountability and can make it more fun. Make activity a family event as well, by adding a sense of variety and adventure on the weekends. Whether it’s organizing a hike with your spouse or a treasure hunt with the kids, getting the buy-in from family with help you reach your goal.

Fitness Checking Account
Think of the food you eat as money spent, and the activity burned as a deposit, similar to a checking account. For those with busy schedules challenged to find a slot of 30 minutes to exercise, break it up throughout the day. Ten minutes at lunch walking the parking lot; 10 minutes power shopping at the grocery store; and adding 10 minutes to the walk to get the mail. Just like money, whether it’s one big deposit or three small deposits, all denominations add up. If you’re following the Weight Watchers program, adding up activity POINTS values can translate into extra POINTS values for food.

Challenge yourself this spring by incorporating physical activity into your lifestyle. Until June 6, Weight Watchers members who join a walking team, create one, or sign-up for a selected 5K event will receive access to a free eight week online interactive walking training guide, and may have the opportunity to train with a walking team in their area as part of the Momentum Walk It Challenge. Learn more about the promotion by visiting www.weightwatchers.com/walkit.

Visit a Weight Watchers meeting for additional support this spring. To find a meeting location near you visit www.weightwatchers.comor call (800) 651-6000.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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