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Turn On Your Walking Mojo

Get Motivated and Get Moving!

Marcia Michelson (left) and Rachelle Gjerstad (right) walk daily with their dogsOkay, we all know the score. We need physical activity-like walking-to maintain good health and prevent heart disease. And what's easier than a walk? You don't need equipment, it's free and the location is up to you. The benefits are numerous. Walking can:

  • raise your heart rate
  • improve blood circulation
  • improve oxygen intake
  • lower blood pressure
  • improve blood sugar
  • improve cholesterol levels

But we just…don't…do…it. What's stopping us? Lack of motivation.

To help you get your walking mojo going, we've interviewed successful walkers for their tips on how to take a step in the right direction.

Get a Dog

Marcia MichelsonMarcia Michelson, 48, a decorative painter who lives in Needham, walks nearly every day with her dog-even in rain and snow-taking a two-mile loop through a wooded area. "When the weather's bad, I may not want to walk, but the dog has to go out and that keeps me going. I always feel so good afterward, and I enjoy having a reason to get outdoors and see the seasons change. Getting outdoors is the biggest hurdle; once you start moving, you can't help enjoying the fresh air and activity."

Call a Friend

Rachelle GjerstadRachelle Gjerstad, 47, a full-time mom from Needham, walks with Marcia Michelson outdoors daily all year round. Her incentive is primarily social. "I walk with members of my family and with a friend. We're all so busy, with so many commitments. Walking is great way to step out of the house, get exercise and have a chance to have a focused conversation. Walking allows you to spend quality time with the people that you care about, and the regular activity keeps everybody in better shape. "

Schedule Your Walk

John Pomfred, 65, who had bypass surgery five years ago at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), is a retired project manager for Avery Dennison who lives in Southborough. An avid walker for years, both before and after his surgery, John relies on scheduling to keep him walking. "I schedule the times and days to walk, and it forms a habit. I walk on a treadmill at the gym three times a week and walk outdoors every day in good weather. Sometimes my arthritis flares and prevents me from going. The trick is to get right back to your schedule as soon as you feel well enough."

Fit It Into Your Workday

Lewis Ware, 58, a resident of Westwood, works at Boston's Lenox Hotel as the director of housekeeping. A member of the  BIDMC Walking Club for the past two years, Lewis relies on making walks part of his workday routine to stay fit. "I start my day by walking my dog at 5 a.m. each morning before I come to work. Then, our walking club at the hotel meets in the lobby at about noon, and we follow a regular route. We all come back to work invigorated. It's a great way to avoid that mid-afternoon energy slump. Making a habit of exercise can keep you energized all day long."

More Motivational Tips

These walkers all have something in common: an incentive to get moving. We all need a driving force to overcome inertia and take those first steps toward healthy new habits.

Perhaps the most powerful advice-to set goals-comes from Carine Corsaro, an exercise physiologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Tanger Be Well Center. "Short-term goals can lead to healthy success," she says. "Since goals will help you stay motivated, it is important to set both short- and long-term ones. An example of a short-term goal is waking 30 minutes on most days of the week for a month. A long-term goal can be participating in a charity walk."

Still not inspired? Here are a few more motivational tips that will have you out and walking in no time.

  • Stop making excuses. "I'm tired." "It's too cold/hot/windy." "I'm not in the mood." Don't go there. Consider walking your way to fitness to be a job. You wouldn't give those excuses to your boss, would you?
  • Register for a walking event. Sign up for a charity walk or walk-a-thon to give yourself something to work toward. Once you commit to an event, like the American Heart Association's 2011 Boston Heart Walk on September 10, you have a reason to get in shape!
  • Wear a pedometer. A study by Stanford University found that wearing a pedometer can increase physical activity by about 2,000 steps per day, which is equal to about a mile or 100 calories. Set a goal for the number of steps you'd like to take per day, and find ways to increase them as time goes on.
  • Find a track. Most high schools have an outdoor track that's open to the public. A track offers level ground, and you can count the number of circuits you make to follow your progress.
  • Buy walking sneakers. Your feet will thank you, and you'll feel obliged to use them once you've made the investment.
  • Take in some history or a scenic trail. Research local history walks or rail trails and schedule the time to enjoy them. If you've never walked Boston's Freedom Trail, now's the time to try it! Rail or bike trails offer the combination of an even path and local scenery.

Okay, time's up. Pick your strategy and pick up the pace. Start walking and take a step toward a healthier heart today!

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted April 2011

Contact Information

CardioVascular Institute at
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
888-99-MYCVI
617-632-9777

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