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Lace up and walk

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running jogging walking genericby Courtney Davis, Denton County Extension Agent

Did you know that the number one killer of Denton County residents is heart disease; a disease in which many of the risk factors are actually preventable?

In addition to a nutritious diet, exercise is key.  We can often find excuses not to exercise such as not having enough time, energy or motivation, being too stressed or quite simply too tired.  I can assure you that the benefits to exercise far outweigh any excuses you (or I) can come up with.

Being physically active is the most important step you can take to improve your health.  Here are some reasons to exercise:

  • Exercise improves your quality of life.  Exercise doesn’t wear you out.  On the contrary, a good physical activity program will actually give you more energy to do the activities you enjoy and will enhance your capability to do the things you like to do at home, work, and play.
  • Exercise relieves depression.  Exercise can lift our spirits.  Researchers have found that mildly to moderately depressed individuals who participate in aerobic exercise for 15 to 30 minutes at least every other day typically experience a positive mood swing within 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Exercise boosts self – image.  It’s a fact:  people who exercise regularly feel better about themselves than their couch potato friends do.
  • Exercise relieves stress and anxiety.  Stress levels decrease with exercise.  Also, about an hour and a half after a relatively intense bout of physical activity, our bodies experience a period of noticeable physical and emotional relaxation.
  • Exercise improves the quality of sleep.  Research shows that exercisers go to sleep more quickly, sleep more soundly, and are more refreshed than individuals who don’t exercise.
  • Exercise improves mental sharpness.  Exercise can energize and revitalize your brain as well as your body.  Exercisers have better memories, better reaction times, and better levels of concentration.

Getting enough exercise doesn’t mean that you have to run a marathon.  Start slowly by taking a walk after dinner in the evenings, parking further from the entrance to the grocery store, dance to your favorite songs or start a garden. The health benefits of exercise can be seen with a mere 30 minutes per day of moderate-level physical activity (anything that gets your heart pumping).  To make things easier, you can even divide the 30 minutes into three ten-minute sessions and build from there.

Now is a great time to make better choices and start an exercise program.  Lace up your sneakers and join us as we celebrate National Walking Day this Wednesday, April 6.  Commit to simply taking 30 minutes out of your day to walk each day during the month of April.

In addition, join us this Saturday, April 9, at Toyota of Lewisville Railroad Park for the Denton County Dash, a free 5K walk/run sponsored by the Denton County Health Department.  For more information, visit www.playtri.com/dentondash. Every step counts and it is never too late to start.

Courtney Davis is the Denton County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences.  She can be reached at 940-349-2882 or cmdavis@ag.tamu.edu

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