Take Pride in Your Stride

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 Join United States Surgeon General Regina Benjamin’s “Everybody Walk” campaign to help promote National Public Health Week, 2013. Each year since 1995, the first full week in April is designated as National Public Health Week. This year’s theme is “Public Health is ROI: Save lives, Save Money”. During this time, April 1st –April 5th, health communities all over the country focus attention on improving and protecting the public health of our nation. From childhood disease prevention and childhood safety, to safety on our roadways, to wellness and safety in the workplace, the National Prevention Strategy’s goal is to become a nation focused on wellness and prevention instead of one focused on disease and illness. Take steps in the direction of wellness by heading outdoors for a walk or participate in an outdoor exercise program. This investment in self-health will bring quite a Return On Investment!

          According to Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD, University of IL at Urbana Champaign, as quoted in the National Women’s Health Resource Center, “When people exercise outdoors in nature, they are not only exercising their body, but likely restoring attention and receiving physiological stress-reduction benefits”. With that in mind, Michigan State Park’s Fresh Air Fitness program offers a variety of outdoor fitness classes, and also expands on the reasons why getting your moves on - outdoors - is such a good idea. 1) Increased attention span –A 2008 study by University of Michigan psychologists found that walking outside or even just looking at pictures of natural setting restores our ability to focus. 2) Better memory – The same study supported previous experiments showing that being in nature improves memory – by 20% when it came to recalling a series of numbers. 3) Reduced stress – Office workers with views of trees and flowers reported lower stress levels, higher job satisfaction, and fewer physical ailments than colleagues with views of buildings, according to a 1989 study the University of Michigan. 4) Improved mood – In a 1991 study by Texas A&M psychologists, subjects who viewed scenes of water or trees reported a much quicker return to a positive mood after a stressful event than those who viewed urban scenes. 5) Greater creativity – In a pilot study this March, psychologists found that students in an Outward Bound course showed a 40% boost in frontal-lobe activity--which is linked to creativity -- after four days in the backcountry.

          Surgeon General Benjamin states that “Good health doesn’t happen by chance. It is shaped and nurtured”. Although she was referring to the many aspects of good Public Health, it is easy to see that one’s personal health follows the same blue print. How we choose to take care of ourselves through healthy food choices and fitness programs certainly helps shape us and a continued commitment to these choices will nurture our good health as we age. So, when we hit the trail on a warm, sun filled morning, or unroll a yoga mat under a cloudless, blue sky, we should feel pretty good about ourselves and our efforts toward protecting our own good health because, as it turns out, we are contributing to the public good health as well.
Hiking - 1/17/2015 by: Charles

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