Keep Your Feet Happy, Every Day

What feels better than stepping outside into the spring air after a long, cold winter stuck inside your house? If you have tired, achy feet, staying on the couch might feel a lot better. But with advances in comfortable footwear, that walk in the park can feel a lot more like, well, a walk in the park!
 
Think about everything your feet do for you every day. We all know that we should get more physical activity and stand more throughout the day rather than sitting at a desk. But if you suffer from foot pain or an injury, some things can become difficult or nearly impossible to do. Who can think about exercise when it hurts just to get out of bed? And people who have to stand on their feet for their jobs are even more at risk for painful and debilitating foot issues.
 
One common foot problem is plantar fasciitis, which comes with pain in the heel. This can be caused by walking in or standing in shoes with thin soles, according to WebMD www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/understanding-plantar-fasciitis-basics. And heels or flip flops can also cause issues, including blisters, bunions and calluses. Even going barefoot can be dangerous for your feet, particularly if you suffer from diabetes.
 
Wearing comfortable shoes that fit properly are a big part of keeping your feet in good health. Shoes that offer stability and cushion can help you dodge many of the foot ailments that can come from everyday life. And they can be fashionable and affordable, too! Shoes that offer cushioning right in the sole can help you avoid the potential cost of inserts to absorb shock.
 
adidas offers its Cloudfoam technology to keep your feet happy every day. Cloudfoam is made with a material designed to absorb shock and can provide a high level of comfort compared to other shoes.
 
Stu Utley from adidas says that any customer looking for comfortable, trendy shoes for an affordable price will benefit from adidas’ Neo line of shoes featuring Cloudfoam.
 
“Our shoes with Cloudfoam are great for everyday wear,” Utley says. “They are built to provide you with stylish comfort.”
 
And the whole family can get the benefits of adidas Cloudfoam technology. The Neo model comes in women’s, men’s and kids’ designs.
 
Skechers also has options for those who want to pamper their feet and stay stylish. You can get Skechers models with memory foam for men, women and children. That includes their D’Lites brand for men and women.
 
“Skechers memory foam offers additional cushioning with a slight rebound to reduce foot fatigue,” says Doug Kelley of Skechers. He called the Skechers shoes with memory foam “an athleisure product for every day.”
 
These cushioned options from Skechers and Adidas are best for light, everyday activities. They are great options for running errands, strolling through your neighborhood or walking your dog.
 
Remember those fitness resolutions you vowed to keep back in January? Keep your feet in good health so you can go out and make them happen! Try shoes with cushioning this spring.
 
-Fitness Fanatic
 
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Walking to a Healthy Future

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
As the temperatures become milder and spring weather calls us to enjoy the world around us, we begin our summer fittness routines … and what better way to kick off the season than with daily walks! Walking is a great, low-impact exercise that comfortably takes you into a highly improved level of fitness. It’s a simple, everyday activity for most people and offers many health benefits. If you’re looking for a convenient way to improve your health, walking may be the answer.
 
What can walking do for you? A lot! Maybe these benefits will encourage you to go out for a walk today!
 
• Reduce symptoms of depression. In one study, walking for 30 minutes, three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression by 47%.
 
• Reduce the risk of colon cancer. Many studies have shown that exercise can prevent colon cancer. Exercise also has been shown to improve the quality of life and reduce mortality for colon cancer patients .
 
• Prevent type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program reports that walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight can reduce the risk of diabetes by 58%. Pretty sweet!
 
• Improve brain function. Researchers found that women who walked at an easy pace (2 miles per hour) at least 1 1/2 hours per week had significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline than women who walked less than 40 minutes per week at the same pace. Literally food for thought!
 
• Strengthen the heart. Mortality rates among retired men who walked less than one mile per day were nearly twice that among those who walked more than two miles per day in one study. Women in the Nurse’s Health Study who walked three hours or more per week reduced their risk of a heart attack or other coronary event by 35% compared with women who did not walk.
 
• Strengthen bones. Studies have indicated that postmenopausal women who walk approximately one mile each day have higher whole-body bone density than women who walk shorter distances
 
• Improve overall fitness. Walking three times a week for 30 minutes at a time can significantly increase cardiorespiratory fitness. Shorter walks improve cardiorespiratory health, too! A study of sedentary women concluded that short brisk walks — three 10-minute walks per day – were as effective in decreasing body fatness as long bouts and offered similar overall fitness.
 
Walking is the most popular activity among members of the National Weight Control Registry. The NWCR is a list of 5,000 men and women who have maintained a 30-pound weight loss for a minimum of one year. The current average weight loss among NWCR members is 60 pounds and the average time that loss has been maintained is about five years!
 
The Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes or more of accumulated moderate intensity physical activity on five or more days per week to improve health and fitness. Accumulated means you can do it in shorter routines throughout the day. Moderate intensity is indicated by a feeling of warmth and being slightly out of breath. Walking counts!
 
It’s easy to incorporate walking into your day and accumulate 30 minutes.
 
• Park your car farther from the store.
 
• Do you commute? Get off the bus a stop earlier, if you drive, park farther away from the building.
 
• Walk to pick up your lunch, or the newspaper.
 
• Walk for errands like picking up a gallon of milk or running to the post office instead of driving short distances.
 
• Finally, keep your walking shoes handy, and take a quick walk to relieve that stress instead of an aspirin!
 
If you’re beginning a walking routine for the first time, make reasonable goals to help motivate yourself. Try a daily ten minute walk and increase by a few minutes each week, you’ll be taking 30 minute walks in no time!
 
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Stepping Forward

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Warm weather marks a new season for runners, walkers, joggers and a many other sports enthusiasts … from baseball and tennis players to street hockey and skate boarders. An important part of your athletic regimen is the equipment you use, and a basic, very imporant item is your shoes. Appropriate, well-fitting shoes are not only important for comfort, they offer you great benefits.
 
• Arch support is important if you are taking part in a regular exercise routine. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that runners with flat feet ask a specialist for recommendations on running shoes.
 
• Midsole foot cushioning — cushion of the area between the ball and heel of the foot – can reduce stress placed on the heel, ankles and toes when running. This not only makes running more comfortable, it can help improve body mechanics and reduce or prevent knee, hip and back pain.
 
• Injury prevention – especially for specific types of injury caused by extensive running — is a vital benefit of proper footwear. Together, midsole cushioning and arch support can help prevent overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, stress fractures and joint pain — and protect against cuts and scrapes to the feet!
 
The American Council on Exercise has stated that using the right shoe can help you make greater gains in your athletic regimen. There are a lot of shoes out there, the first step in choosing the correct pair for you is understanding your foot type!
 
• If your shoes are most worn down on the inside, you have a low arch; your footprint shows almost the entire foot, and your feet roll distinctively inward. In this case, wear motion-control running shoes. They should have maximum supportive features as well as substantial cushioning in high strike areas of the heel and forefoot. These shoes are also excellent for the larger-framed runner. However, if the outside of your heel hits the ground first, and rolls inward slightly, consider stability shoes. Stability running shoes give extra support through the midsole and heel to help your feet work better. Select a shoe with a straight shape.
 
• If your shoes show uniform wear across the forefoot, your feet have a distinct curve along the inside of your foot, and your heel and toes are connected by a band that is slightly less than half the width of your foot, you have a normal arch. With a normal arch, the middle to slightly outward part of the heel strikes the ground first and the foot rolls slightly inward, absorbing shock more effectively. You should use stability running shoes with a semi-curved shape.
 
• If your shoes show more wear on the outer sides, you have a high arch. Your footprint shows a thin outer band between your heel and toe, the outside of the heel strikes the ground first and does not roll inward, staying on the outside causing the impact to be concentrated on a smaller area of the foot. Look for cushioned shoes with a curved shape to encourage foot movement, these shoes should be more concerned with midsole cushioning that support, and provide extra shock absorption to make up for the lack of pronation that comes with high arches.
 
Whether you’re just beginning a running program or are an old pro at it, enjoy the beautiful weather and step forward to a healthy, fit lifestyle!
 
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Spring Into a New Walking Routine

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Walking has increased in popularity as a method of exercise and transportation over the past few years. Statistics show that if you’re going somewhere within a mile of your home, chances are that you’ll walk … especially if you have either sidewalks or paved roads. Unfortunately, we’re still not walking – or taking part in other physical activities – enough. Walking is the most popular aerobic activity with approximately 6 in 10 adults reporting that they walked for at least 10 minutes in the previous week. That’s something, but ten minutes is definitely not enough. It’s spring, what a beautiful time of the year to begin a new walking routine!
 
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh found that overweight people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost weight even if they didn’t change any other lifestyle habits and researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease. Plus you get all the benefits of consistent aerobic exercise … and walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise. All you need is a good pair of shoes and the will to do it.
 
Where to start? A walking program is like any other activity, you need a plan to succeed. At the beginning you want to decide a basic goals for your walks and the methods you use to attain those goals. Then you can get to work!
 
Start slow. Walk for 10 minutes, and walk back every day for a week. If you’re comfortable after a week add five minutes to your walk. Continue adding 5 minutes to each walk until you reach your goal.
 
Hold your head up and eyes forward with your shoulders should be down and relaxed. Move forward with a natural stride.
 
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Start with a slow, warm -up pace, pause and do a few warm up / flexibilty stretches. Walk for the desired length of time or distance and end the walk with the slower cool down. After your walk, do some stretches.
 
Your walking pace should be fast enough that it’s hard to sing, yet slow enough that it’s to talk.
 
Make daily walking a habit. Walk fast enough to reach your target heart rate, but not so much that you are gasping and unable to breathe. Motivate yourself by keeping a journal.
 
According to the American Heart Association, walking for at least 30 minutes a day:
 
Reduces your risk of coronary heart disease.
Improves your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Improves your blood lipid profile.
Helps maintain your body weight and lower the risk of obesity.
Enhances your mental well being.
Reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Reduces the risk of developing breast and colon cancer.
Reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
 
Walking … it’s easy and so good for you!
 
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Heat Up Those Creative Juices

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We’ve often stressed that exercise and walking improve cognitive skills, both immediately and in the longer term. We already know that; we take a long walks to ‘get rid of the cobwebs’ after long work sessions, when we’re emotionally worn down or have a difficult problems to solve. Many studies support the idea that walking boosts brain health … now we know that boost includes the creative thought functions too!
 
New research demonstrates a clear correlation between walking and creative thinking. In a series of experiments, researchers from Stanford University in California compared levels of creativity in people while they were walking and while they were sitting. The study, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, found another great reason for walking as part of a well-rounded fitness regimen. It boosts your creativity!
 
Researchers from Stanford University conducted a series of four experiments that included 176 participants. The group was comprised of college students and other adults who walked or sat in outdoor and indoor environments. Participants were also asked to complete their walking and sitting sessions using a specific mix of walking and sitting. During the sessions, participants were engaged in tasks that are used to measure the creative thought process. The tasks all focused on divergent thinking creativity — coming up with ideas by thinking of multiple possible solutions – in three experiments. Answers were rated by originality and usefulness. The walkers ranked higher on divergent thinking creativity than when they were sitting! In one indoor experiment, the participants walked on a treadmill and scored an average of 60% higher on divergent thinking creativity than when they were sitting!
 
A fourth experiment tested a more complex type of creativity in which participants respond to simple cues with complex analogies. The study found that 100% of the participants walking outdoors came up with at least one high-quality complex analogy, compared with thinking of 50% high-quality complex analogies when they were sitting indoors!
 
Researchers are not sure exactly why a casual walk has such a strong effect on the creative thinking process, but you can add this to your list of reasons to take a walk.
 
Take a walk, you’ll be healthier, happier and more creative!
 
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Spring: A Season for Renewal

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
It’s been a long, hard winter but finally spring has arrived! Soon we’ll be shedding our heavy winter clothes and embracing the lush, green growth of trees and gardens , and the warming air that greets us each morning. Neighbors we haven’t seen all winter will be out working in their yards, walking or jogging, and soon fresh spring produce will arrive at the grocer’s. It’s a great time of year to renew your health resolutions or make a new commitment to a healthy life!
 
After long months spent indoors, it can be a big challenge to adopt a major fitness program, especially if you have a busy schedule. Ease into it!
 
• Choose an activity you will enjoy!
 
• If your schedule makes it difficult to set aside a 30 minute block of time, try three 10-minute workouts or walks.
 
• Walk or bike to work or to the local store.
Wear a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you take and and set a goal to increase the amount you walk. A Harvard study found that taking six thousand steps a day is correlated with a lower death rate in men.
 
• Park your car a distance from your destination and walk.
 
• Use stairs instead of the elevator.
 
• Take a walk at lunch with coworkers.
 
• Join an office or community sports league.
 
If you’re hungry when you get home from your fitness outing, try a handful of nuts! A study from Loma Linda University found that participants eating a diet that has majority of fat coming from almonds resulted in significantly higher loss of body and abdominal fat in 24 weeks than participants who ate the same amount of calories with more carbs and less fat. Other nuts to add to your diet include Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts.
 
You’ll probably be thirsty too! Drink plenty of water; researchers in Germany found that drinking two cups of cold water can boost metabolic rate by 30 percent! If you have a taste for something different try green tea, its primary ingredient – epigallocatechin gallate – reduces the effect of the enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine. That keeps the metabolic rate up, and you burn more calories throughout the day. Black tea also aids fat loss. A study conducted by University College in London found that drinking black tea regularly can reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that encourages fat storage around the midsection.
 
Make physical activity a regular part of your day and you’ll begin to notice some positive changes, whether it’s weight loss, a smaller waist or a new, fuller sense of well-being.
 
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Memory Walks

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Do your brain a favor … make walking a part of your regular routine! Evidence that regular walking benefits brain health continues to pile up. If you’re not a walker, this should convince you to start!
 
A recent study from The Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois involving 120 sedentary people aged 55-80 found that walking increased the size of the hippocampus, a critical area of the brain for new learning and creating long-term memories. Participants of the study had not engaged in more than 30 minutes of daily exercise in the six months before of the study; they then took part in exercise groups for a year. Half of the participants walked three days a week, starting out 10 minutes per day and increasing to 40 minutes per day as their fitness levels improved. The other half did stretching and toning exercises for the same amount of time.
 
Participants were assessed at the start of the study, at six months into the study, and at the end of the year for spatial memory, fitness levels, and levels of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an essential fuel for the growth of new neurons in the brain. They were also given brain scans to track physical changes.
 
The assessments showed that fitness levels for the walking group improved more than in the stretching and toning group. The walking group also had an increase in the size of the hippocampus. Spatial memory and levels of BDNF increased in both groups, but only the walking group was found to have increased the size of the hippocampus. Studies have shown that had the participants continued to be inactive for the year, their hippocampus would have shrunk by one to two per cent, while walking just three times a week boosted their memory and increased the size of their hippocampus.
 
While this study concentrated on walking, it is believed that any aerobic activity could offer the same benefits. If you can’t get out for a walk due to weather conditions try walking on a treadmill.
 
If a knee injuries get in the way of your walking routine, try weight-lifting. A study conducted by scientists at the University of British Columbia focused on women ages 70 to 80 with mild cognitive impairment. They found that after six months of exercise, either walking or weight training, the women performed better performance on cognitive tests than they had before. It is interesting that while both exercise groups improved almost equally on tests of spatial memory, the women who had walked showed greater gains in verbal memory than the women who had lifted weights.
 
So get out there and walk … you’ll build strength and memories!
 
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Walk Against Back Pain

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
At some point in their lives, 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and is a leading contributor to missed work, costing Americans at least $50 billion each year in health care costs. Often, lower back pain goes away within a few days, but not all of us are that lucky! Now there’s good news if you or a loved one suffers from back pain!
 
New research shows that adopting a simple aerobic walking program that includes walking two to three times a week for a period of 20 to 40 minutes can be as effective to reduce lower back pain as strengthening rehabilitation programs that depend on specialized equipment in clinics. A walking regimen fits easily into a daily routine and offers people with back pain more control and more responsibility for their own health.
 
The study, published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation, found that when people actively walk, the abdominal and back muscles work in basically the same way as when doing exercises that target those areas. Unlike muscle strengthening programs, which often call for specific equipment and can involve exercises that require expert supervision, and it is a simple activity that can be done alone.
 
The study included 52 patients with lower back pain who participated in a randomized control trial. At the onset of the research, participants were assessed for pain levels, feelings of disability, limitations on daily activities, and walking endurance. Half of the group completed a typical clinic-based muscle strengthening program, with two to three exercise sessions a week for six weeks. The other half completed a six-week aerobic walking program, walking two to three times weekly, starting with 20 minutes of walking and progressing to 40 minutes as their endurance improved. Both groups improved significantly in all areas, and the walking program was found to be as effective as clinical treatment. The walking program has the additional advantage of encouraging patients to follow an overall healthier lifestyle.
 
Spring will be here soon, what better time to take up a new walking program! It’s a great low-impact activity that lowers blood pressure, boosts brain and immune system functioning, and reduces stress. It can also save your back!
 
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