Americans walk significantly less than people from any other industrialized country. While most experts recommend about 10,000 steps a day, the average American only takes half that many. Sitting in front of the television or in front of a computer screen all day at work can lead to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. When you sit for a full day your body begins to shut down at a metabolic level and your ability to burn fat plummets to 50% of normal levels.
Many recent studies support changing our sedentary lifestyles to be more active and walk more. Moderate-intensity walking reduces “bad” cholesterol, lowers body fat, reduces fatigue and can even improve your mood. A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that an hour of walking a day can reduce the genetic predisposition toward obesity.
Walking also has environmental benefits -- by walking you are cutting down on the greenhouse gas emissions that cars and other forms of transport are putting into the environment. Walking is healthier for you and for the planet.
April is Occupational Therapy month and the American OT Association is promoting ‘Everybody Walk’, a campaign to get Americans moving. Take part by pledging to walk a half hour a day for a month. Walk to work or school, if you live close enough. Take a walk around your neighborhood after dinner, or make a walking date with a friend to talk and catch up. Maybe even invest in a pedometer and aim to cover the recommended 10,000 steps in a day.
For more information check out the following resources:
1. American Occupational Therapy’s ‘Everybody Walk’ Campaign: http://everybodywalk.org/
2. Use Walkscore to find out how your neighborhood rates: http://www.walkscore.com/
3. Check out this cool Kickstarter campaign designed to let citizens educate other citizens on walking distances in their home towns: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cityfabric/walk-your-city