Ask the Anytime Gal: Walking has hidden health benefits

By: 
Jayme Smid, Anytime Fitness Club
Question: I am a busy mother of three and usually do most of the cooking for the family. I commonly find that my kids do not eat their fruits and vegetables when I cook them. Do you have any suggestions for ways I can incorporate fruits and vegetables into meals so they will actually eat them?
Answer: You’re not alone! Many parents find it hard to feed their children the proper amount of fruits and vegetables. Let’s face it, most children will never choose a side of broccoli over a side of macaroni and cheese. So, what can parents do? Begin by finding the foods your kids enjoy most, such as pizza, popsicles or dessert, and then try adding in fruits and veggies to these staples. For instance, instead of ordering a plain cheese pizza, try adding toppings such as mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, olives, or even pineapple to increase their fruit and veggie intake. During the summer, popsicles can be a real hit for kids. Try making your own by adding strawberries, raspberries or blueberries to your favorite fruit juice and freezing in popsicle molds. If your family loves desserts, try adding whole fruit to the dessert, or make a dessert from a fruit-base. Yogurt parfaits, strawberry shortcake, or even making your own ice cream out of frozen bananas is a great way to make dessert more healthful for the entire family. What about breakfast? Kids love smoothies, and smoothies provide an easy platform for sneaking in whatever kinds of fruits and vegetables you have around the house! Try adding some greens to your smoothie, like spinach or kale, which have energy-boosting compounds to kick-start their morning. I know what you’re thinking, you’re worried adding vegetables will make their smoothie taste bad. In reality, the sweetness of the fruit you add will disguise the bitterness of any vegetables, so add your veggies! The best thing about these tricks is your kids will never even notice that their favorite foods have been redesigned and are more healthful with a handful of fruits and vegetables in each serving. 
 
Question: I really enjoy walking, but does it provide any real health benefits?
Answer: If walking works for you, it works for me! Truly, fitness all starts with finding something you won’t mind doing! Walking has many hidden benefits that most people overlook because it’s low impact and so easy to get started. Most people falsely assume that in order to be healthy and prevent disease, they need to perform rigorous cardio activity but this is not always the case. Recent studies indicate that frequent walkers have lower rates of heart attacks and strokes than those who don’t walk as often, as well as lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. 
Walking is also great for keeping the weight off. Most people would never think taking a 30-minute walk during your lunch break or after work could do much good, but that walk can slice off anywhere from 100-200 calories, depending on your pace and how much you weigh. An extra 100-200 calories burned each day can go a long way to prevent weight gain and keep you staying slim, especially if it’s more than you’ve done before. Another benefit of this simple exercise is that it keeps your bones strong and dense as you age, helping to prevent osteoporosis. Although it has many physical benefits, walking can do wonders for mental health as well. Going for a walk can be very relaxing and can easily lighten your mood when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Even better, walking has shown to improve mental clarity and cognition. 
As you can see, adding a brisk, 30-minute walk to your daily routine can do wonders for your health in the long run. But, if you can’t find a stretch of 30 minutes, go smaller and move whenever you can. Stringing three 10-minute bouts together throughout the day can be equally impactful. You simply can’t go wrong with this easy, enjoyable exercise that you can do anywhere at any time!
Jayme Smid is the club manager at Anytime Fitness in Brandon. To submit a question for future articles, email her at jayme.smid@anytimefitness.com

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