Now that March is almost behind us, have you committed to improving your fitness? If so, what is keeping you motivated? Read here and here for past blog posts about this subject. If you have tried and feel less than happy with your progress, I hope you can get some good ideas from this post.
“If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood, go for another walk.”
As the quote suggests, walking is by far the best activity you can do for yourself, any day, any time. Do you have any idea how much of the world’s problems I have solved simply by walking my dogs? In all seriousness, perhaps not, but taking 30 minutes to “unplug” and take that walk has endless health benefits. Walking is free to do and easy to fit into your daily routine. All you need to start walking is a sturdy pair of walking shoes.
According to Healthline.com, here are 10 benefits of walking:
- Burns calories
- Strengthens the heart
- Helps lower blood sugar
- Eases joint pain
- Boosts immune function
- Boosts energy levels
- Improves your mood
- Extends your life
- Tones your legs
- Fosters creative thinking
One of my favorites on this list (#7) is to simply enjoy the surrounding views. Looking at flowers and trees, water, beautiful vistas, etc, is an immediate mood lifter. We are just a few weeks away from seeing these wild sunflowers popping up everywhere! Sharing for Dawn’s Spring Festival and Cee’s Flower of the Day.
Hopefully, I’ve motivated you to go for a walk. When you get back, please read the rest.
Employee Wellness Programs
Many companies and organizations are invested in the health and wellness of their employees. It is a known fact that healthy employees who engage in fitness and other wellness activities perform better in the workplace.
The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism states:
“For many companies, health costs use up 50 percent or more of their corporate profits. In fact, the indirect costs of poor health, such as an absence from work and reduced work productivity, can result in two or three times the amount of direct medical costs.”
For example, a San Francisco Bay area aerospace engineering company offers employees cash bonuses from $100 to $600 for practices such as completing a well-being assessment or enrolling family members into their Health Fund Program. Also, as part of their health incentive plan, participating employees are given free pedometers to measure their steps as part of a fitness challenge, with raffle prizes awaiting top participation. Many companies offer monetary incentives for tracking steps that go into the employee’s healthcare spending account.
As a public employee, I had options for signing up with a local health club at a discounted rate as an incentive to stay well. After retirement, I kept my low monthly fee for a lifetime gym membership. This is great for employees who are fortunate to have these benefits. But what if your company or organization does not offer wellness programs or other incentives? External rewards are nice, but what kinds of motivation does it take to keep you fit and well? I moved out of the area where my gym chain was located so I ended my membership.
What if You’re Retired?
For those folks who have reached age 65, Silver Sneakers is a US Medicare program to help seniors reach a standard of living that encourages health and wellness. “It provides discounted memberships at local fitness centers to qualifying Medicare recipients. There are over 13,000 fitness locations across the country, offering access to all club amenities including group fitness classes for all levels (led by certified instructors).
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) is another excellent fitness and wellness resource for people over 50.
For those living outside the US and are either employed or retired, explore your medical benefits for options that offer wellness incentives.
5 Popular Ways to Track Your Fitness Progress
Have you ever thought about using apps and/or wearable fitness tools to measure and help keep track of your fitness progress?
As the title of the post suggests, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and explore popular apps and tools for helping you measure your fitness progress and keep you on track. A variety of activity trackers and tools have appeared in the fitness market in the last few years. Here are just a few of some I have used or have been recommended.
Weight Management Apps
If you are managing your weight there are many options for counting your calories. Weight loss programs like Nutri-system (Numi), Weight Watchers (WW), and Medi-fast have free, built-in mobile apps for their members that you can use to track your weight, count your calories and meals, and log your exercise regimen. I have personally used all three and find them to be very effective and can be easily accessed from a mobile device and your computer.
For those who do not follow a weight loss program but still want to count calories, there are many to choose from. I’ve used “Calorie Counter” by Fat Secret which contains an exhaustive food list and serves as an ideal food diary. It is very easy to set up and use. For low-tech options, keeping a handwritten food journal also works for many people.
Just like calorie counters, there are a wide variety of workout apps available. I have personally used “7 Minute Workout,” and “Map My Ride (or Run, Walk, Fitness)” to assist with my workouts. The “Map My Fitness” apps work with your mobile phone to track your workout in miles, calories burned, and route taken, to name a few. You can link your finished workout to your social network if you wish.
Last month, I shared that I discovered two apps, Women Workout at Home and Stretching, which you can read more about HERE. Both are free, customizable, and offer a huge variety of quick workouts you can do in your own home. What I like about these is you can set up a notification on your mobile device to prompt you!
Most free weight management and workout apps can be upgraded for a fee if you want to nix the pop-up ads.
General Health and Medical Apps
Your health provider may have a mobile app designed to keep track of your entire wellness history. Kaiser Permanente provides this type of app to members. If you belong to a gym, your membership may have an app dedicated to its brand and products, like “My24,”by 24-Hour Fitness Centers, for example. These apps provide quick information to help keep you on track.
The continuing trend in fitness has been the wearable fitness tracker. These are activity and sleep monitors that track user movements and activity levels to provide information on metrics including step count, calories burned, distance traveled, and the number of hours of light and deep sleep via mobile technology. More notable are Fitbit, Garmin, and Apple Watches.
If your employer or insurance company provides you with a fitness tracker, use it. Prices vary from under $50 to over $250.
For those who are low-tech or just not interested in using a mobile device to track your fitness, a good old-fashioned scale at home or your gym paired with an inexpensive pedometer will work just fine. A small notebook can be used as a simple food/workout journal.
The information written here is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of every app or tool available. I encourage you to conduct your own research for the ones that are right for you. ALWAYS check with your physician when starting a new fitness regimen.
WALK: My Word of the Year (WOTY) Update
Most of you know that I love to walk and hike in my rural paradise here in Eastern Washington. Walking along the quiet trails not only strengthens my body but also heals my soul as I contemplate my spiritual life. Sharing here for Jo’s Monday Walk.
I came up with this acrostic to focus more on what the word WALK means to me.
- W = wander ~ wander and explore new territory and enjoy your own area and beyond
- A = ask ~ ask for help if you feel overwhelmed, or simply ask for guidance
- L = love ~ love yourself now, not after you get more fit or lose weight
- K = know ~ know that you are loved. Seek knowledge.
Please join me and other bloggers for the monthly link-up as we celebrate how our word of the year is impacting us. You can find more about the link-party on Deb’s World.
Have a wonderful month! Next time, I’ll begin my new series “Women Pioneers of the Fitness and Exercise Movement.”
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