Welcome Spring With Brisk Walks

“Mom, I need new shoes. It’s been two years since I had new shoes!” my daughter exclaimed as we walked around our neighborhood. She was 9 at the time.

We were trying to reach a walking program goal of 10,000 steps using our pedometers, or step counters. That’s equal to about five miles of walking during the course of a day.

“I think you might be exaggerating. I bought the shoes you are wearing last fall, so that’s more like six months. Spring is a good time for new walking shoes, though. What kind of shoes would you like?” I asked.

“I want ones that keep the water and bugs out,” she said, looking down at her well-worn shoes.

“Have you been having problems with bugs getting in your shoes lately?” I teased as we walked by a few remaining small piles of snow.

“No, I’m thinking about this summer,” she replied with a grin.

We passed numerous walkers that evening who also were enjoying the warmer weather. I wondered if they knew about a study about the benefits of moderate physical activity and longevity.

According to a study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who get regular, moderate activity, such as walking 30 minutes a day, may live 1.3 years longer than those with a very low level of physical activity. They also may enjoy an additional 1.1 years without heart disease, compared with sedentary people.

According to other studies, regular physical activity helps prevent diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. Walking also reduces stress and improves sleep and overall mood.

These are some amazing benefits for the price of a pair of shoes and a little time. Consider these tips as you welcome spring.

  • Be sure your walking shoes fit properly. Shop for shoes late in the day when your feet may be a little larger. Measure both feet, and be sure you have a thumbnail’s width (about one-half inch) between the tip of your longest toe and the edge of the shoe.
  • Wear appropriate socks when you try on shoes, and try on more than one size and brand. The shoes should fit comfortably but not feel so loose that your feet slide forward. Your heel should not slip up and down. Try on both shoes and walk awhile.
  • When you have your shoes and you’re ready to walk, be sure to warm up before you begin. Do some static stretching, a continuous stretch to the point where you feel a slight pull. Start out walking slowly for the first five minutes or so.
  • Pace yourself if you haven’t been physically active for a while. In fact, consider discussing physical activity with your physician or other health-care provider before you begin.
  • Take the talk test. If you can’t talk while you are exercising, slow down. If you feel pain, dizziness or nausea, stop right away.
  • Stay well-hydrated. Bring a water bottle and sip regularly.

By the way, I bought new shoes for my walking companion so we could meet our goals without sore feet. Maybe I need a new pair of shoes, too.

Visit www.ndsu.edu/boomers and www.ndsu.edu/eatsmart for more information about fitness and nutrition.

Here’s a tasty, portable and refreshing snack to enjoy during or after a walk.

Yogurt Pops

6 ounces plain or flavored low-fat or nonfat yogurt
3/4 cup 100 percent fruit juice of choice

Whip yogurt and juice together until smooth. Pour into Popsicle molds, paper cups or ice cube trays. Insert Popsicle sticks or toothpicks into each pop. Cover container with plastic wrap and poke through if needed. Freeze until solid.

Flavor ideas: vanilla yogurt with raspberry juice, lemon yogurt with orange juice

Makes four servings. Each serving has 59 calories, less than 1 gram (g) of fat and 12 g of carbohydrate.