The Well-Being Journal

Walking Together for Longer, Healthier Life

Jennifer Rudloff

walking togetherWith all of our modern technology, connecting quickly has become easier. But there’s something to be said for trading some high-tech time with real, face-to-face quality time every once in a while. When we do this by going for a walk with friends, for example, it can do wonders for our physical and emotional health.

Successful Strides

Four years after becoming the first Blue Zones Project city, Albert Lea, Minn., continues to be a living, breathing example of this. A recent news article reported the city has 30 moais, or groups who continue to get together twice a week for an hour-long walk, bike ride or dancing. This Midwestern city has shown how a healthy habit can become a life-changing lifestyle.

Those who’ve participated in the Blue Zones program and adopted its principles—like regular activity and healthy eating—have experienced numerous benefits, such as:

  • Improved physical and emotional health
  • Elimination of medication for certain health conditions
  • An increased lifespan of 2.9 years on average

In summary, walking with others can make it easier to adopt healthy choices, which can grow into a lifestyle, which can lead to well-being improvement beyond measure.

Some Pep for Your Step

When was the last time you met up with a group of friends, colleagues or neighbors and went for a walk? Whether you have a health-related goal or would like to reconnect on a deeper level, consider making contact and find a time that would work. You could even consider organizing a "walking school bus" in your neighborhood, like described in this YouTube video. One step is all you need to get started. And if you want to use a little high-tech to initiate the conversation, a quick text probably wouldn't hurt.

Topics: Healthy Living In the News Exercise Physical Health Health Emotional Health Social Well-Being Success Stories Blue Zones Project

6 Ways to Make Walking Wonderful

Jennifer Rudloff

Couple Walking hand in handWe know that being sedentary can be a major drag on personal well-being, but the alternative doesn’t have to be signing up for the next iron man triathlon. In fact, before plunking down the dough to sign up for a gym, consider ramping up slowly by doing something that’s simple and that almost anyone can do every day—walking. Often overlooked, walking has one of the lowest barriers to entry, and it’s something that very often can be done socially—with a friend, family member, or co-worker—for even more motivation and support.

Walking should be fun, easy, and good for you, but the same stroll can get a little dull day after day. To make that daily stroll a bit more interesting and enjoyable, we’ve compiled a half dozen ideas to mix things up and enhance the normal walking experience. Hopefully you’ll feel the benefits in both body and mind, and enjoy a creative way to work in a walk each day. Enjoy…

Change your walking terrain. Take a walk on a natural surface of grass, sand, dirt, or gravel. Some research shows that always treading across man-made expanses could increase your risk of joint pain and overuse injuries. Natural surfaces like grass, sand, dirt, or gravel offer a more cushioned walking surface and force you to use your legs and abdominal muscles to stabilize yourself as you mosey along.

Hoof it to a favorite spot. Pick a favorite local spot and pledge to go there on foot in the next week. This could be a coffee shop, store, park, or view—any place where you feel happy and that you can get to on foot in 10 or 15 minutes. If you connect exercise with a local destination that makes you happy, you increase your chances of actually taking the walk—while also benefiting from going somewhere you enjoy!

Aim high while you walk. As you plan today’s walk, incorporate some nearby stairs. Some possibilities: If you live near a school or university, head to the running track, and after walking, climb to the top of the stadium steps. Or if you work in an office building, take a walk at lunch and use the stairs instead of the elevator to return to your office. Adding stairs to your stroll can change up the pace and get your heart pumping, creating an even-better-for-you walk.

Walk tall and pay attention to your posture. Are you slouching? Favoring one leg over another? Leaning forward or back while you walk? Imagine an invisible string is being pulled gently upward from the top of your head with every step you take. Try also to look forward (not down) while you walk, and remember to breathe deeply, opening your chest and shoulders as you do. By walking tall, you’ll help to reverse some of that strain and soreness, and take in more oxygen, to boot.

Make some moves. Incorporate knee lifts and jumping jacks into a walk today. At the start of your walk, set a timer on your phone or watch for five minutes. When it goes off, stop, stand in place, and do a set of three knee lifts. Walk for another five minutes, and then stop and do three jumping jacks. Repeat this cycle as often as you like, until your walk is done. By incorporating some calisthenics into your walk, other parts of your body and different muscle groups will get additional conditioning.

“Read” while you walk. With an audio book or podcast, that is. Thousands of books are available online; most are inexpensive and some are even free. You can also download free podcasts on a wide variety of topics. By listening to an absorbing story or compelling podcast, you’re more likely to focus less on your walking and more on what you hear. This kind of healthy distraction often leads to longer (and more enjoyable) walks.

Reposted from Well-Being Wire by MeYou Health

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise Physical Health walking How To Walk More

American Exercise Habits Remain Relatively Unchanged in 2011

Jennifer Rudloff

Last year, 51.6 percent of Americans reported exercising three days or more per week, a slight increase from the 51.4 percent who did so in 2010, Gallup reported March 15.

In addition, the number of Americans who got no exercise at all dipped half a percentage point — to 29.7 percent — in 2011, according to the latest findings of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. However, Americans’ overall exercise habits — aside from a small decrease in exercise rates in 2009 following the financial crisis — have remained essentially stable since Gallup began tracking that data in 2008.

In 2011, most overweight and obese Americans (66.9 percent) got no physical activity in a given week, while a slim majority (58.1 percent) of normal-weight adults worked out three or more days per week, the survey shows.

While doctors are increasingly prescribing exercise to patients and government initiatives such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign are working to get more people active, “moving the needle on a national scale remains a challenge,” the report says.

How often do you exercise? How does your employer help you get moving?

Topics: In the News Physical Health Research Well-Being Index Healthways Gallup Exercise

The Science of Well-Being

Jennifer Rudloff

Why does Well-Being matter? Intrinsically, we all understand that higher well-being is better. That much is pretty straight forward. What you may not realize is the impact well-being has on key business metrics such as healthcare costs, productivity, performance, and employee engagement for your organization. In this white paper, The Science of Well-Being, we explore the evidence around why improving well-being is critical for elevating your businesses performance.

Key Points include:

  • Explanation and validation of the measures used in the Healthways Well-Being Assessment™ (WBA)
  • Discussion of the components included in the WBA and why they're important to business leaders
  • How our productivity measures can be used to diagnose areas of opportunity to improve performance
  • Examination of key findings regarding how well-being relates to:
    • Health care utilization and cost
    • Productivity (absenteeism and presenteeism)
    • Job performance
    • Employee engagement

White Paper: The Science of Well-Being

Topics: Basic Access Work Environment Physical Health Business Performance Health Emotional Health HRA Wellness Measure Wellness wellbeing assessment Life Evaluation Productivity Health Risk Assessment Well-Being Healthways Healthy Living Workplace Well-Being Well-Being Index