National Walking Day – movement is medicine!


You had a long day at school. It all started with a 50-minute ECON 101 lecture on supply & demand at 8 a.m., followed by an interesting lecture on globalization in your SOC 269 class, followed by a short coffee break. Finally, you closed the day with a lab on how to factor dummy variables in statistical analysis in MGTSC 301. It is almost 4 p.m. now, and you feel like storming out the door. You exit the business building and breathe a huge sigh of relief! You look at the lovely weather and say to yourself, “Why don’t I take a long walk? It would be a good break before I start working on my sociology assignment!” 

Guess what? Walking is fun and it has a lot of benefits! On this year’s National Walking Day, I have a few fun facts and words of encouragement on why you should walk more often. Read on to learn more about it! 

When and why do we celebrate National Walking Day? 

With the intention of promoting healthy living, National Walking Day was initially started by the American Heart Association in 2007 “as a simple way for people to get just a little bit healthier” (Days of the Year). It is usually celebrated during the first week of April. This year, we are celebrating it on Thursday, April 3. 

It is one of those days that give you the opportunity to not only step outside of your home but also celebrate the occasion. You need no reservations at fancy restaurants or an itinerary to celebrate this day. All you need is a few minutes of spare time, a big smile on your face and a beautiful day! 

What are the benefits of walking?

According to the American Heart Association, “Physical activity is one of the best ways to improve overall health and manage stress.” While playing intense sports like soccer and hockey might not be an option for some, walking is an option for most people as a medium to exercise and include some physical activity in their daily lives. Some of the benefits of walking regularly include lightened mood, weight loss, improved sleep, lower Alzheimer’s risk, reduced loss of bone mass and many such benefits to your body. 

In a research study done by The British Journal of Sports Medicine, it was found that “walking at a brisk or fast pace (at least 4 miles an hour)” reduced the risk of death by 24% (Healthline). In another study conducted by the American Psychological Association, researchers concluded that walking opens up a free flow of ideas and is a simple way to increase creativity and get physical activity at the same time” (Healthline). 

I wish I had walked more in my first two years of university! I am confident I would have come up with some cool ideas for those interesting group projects I had. Well, I couldn’t, but you still can! 

How much should I walk every day? 

If I were to ask you, “How much should I eat every day?” what would you say? “It depends”! Or you might ask me, “How hungry do you usually feel?” Right? You get the point! It is a challenge for someone to advise you on the exact amount of food you should eat every single day. It depends on your lifestyle, the kind of food you are eating, the number of meals you eat and so on. Similarly, it is difficult to give you an exact distance you should walk every day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is “recommended that most adults aim for 10,000 steps per day, with fewer than 5,000 steps being a sign of sedentary lifestyle” (Medical News Today). Upon conversion, 10,000 steps roughly translates to just over 7 km. While it may seem like a long distance, believe me, it actually is not. As a student, you are always on the go from one side of the campus to the other. I average over 12,000 steps every day without considering my usual 5 km runs. While it is not difficult at all, life usually comes in the way, and soon, you realize you haven’t left your home in two days because of finals and late-night study sessions. So, how to make it a habit to walk more often?

Fun fact: I walk over 400,000 steps every month! 

What can I do to get those steps in and walk more regularly? 

One of the techniques I use to walk more is if I need to go somewhere and the destination is within 5 km; I will make an intentional effort to walk rather than drive or commute by public transport. A good example of this is my weekly visit to Safeway, a grocery store on Whyte Avenue. I live on North Campus, and I often do my groceries on Fridays. Safeway is just over 2 km away from campus. What do I usually do? I walk to the store. I would set aside an hour for my walk to and from Safeway and would come back home with over 5,000 steps through this simple trip. While it might not be the best option when you have a long list of items to purchase, it usually works when you need a few items that you can carry in your backpack. 

A few other things I would do to make sure I walk more include:

  • I often use the time between classes during the day to walk around campus. It makes for a good, refreshing break while I get closer to those 10,000 steps a day. 
  • Use an app to track my steps and physical activity. Here is a list of some apps that might be helpful. 
  • Have an early dinner (around 6:30 p.m.) so that I can take a walk after, before getting back to my studying. I avoid eating late dinners and going to bed right after. 
  • Texting a friend after my last class of the day to join me for coffee. We would then walk to a cafe either on campus or on 109 Street, close to North Campus, which happens to be a great refresher, both physically and mentally! 

Are there any walking trails close to campus? 

Of course, there are! You can take a long walk from the east side of North Campus and take the High-Level Bridge for a good stroll in the afternoon or late evening. Don’t be surprised if you see some runners and joggers on the way. It is a common spot for evening walks and runs for a lot of Edmontonians. Another great trail is right across the street from Peter Lougheed Hall. If you keep going down the trail, you will end up in Kinsmen Park in a few minutes. Another great place for a lovely evening walk is visiting the Keller Pointe in McKernan Belgravia, just two stations away from North Campus. It is a famous spot for watching the sunset in Edmonton.  

What is my goal for improving my physical activity this year? 

My goal this year is to continue with my average of over 12,000 steps every day! I believe it is more important to be consistent than aggressive in setting your goals and ambitions, especially when it comes to fitness. Additionally, I am hoping to run the Servus Credit Union half-marathon this summer. I have always enjoyed walking and running long distances and hope to continue that journey this year. What is your goal for improving your physical activity this year? 

Whether it is walking 10,000 steps a day or running an IronMan, share it with your friends and family and make a decision to give your body the amount of physical activity it needs to keep you healthy! We wish you a happy National Walking Day from the YouAlberta team.


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