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Opportunities to walk your way to better health

Stop by the Health 1st Wellness Wednesday table between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sept. 10 in the Children’s Hospital lobby to sign up for the 2 Mile Wellness Run & Walk.

by Janis Newton
Harper Student Wellness Center
A lot of people are heeding the surgeon general’s advice to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Have you noticed how many people are walking around campus with pedometers, or the constant stream of walkers and runners on the Ravenel Bridge? If you are not one of them, start receiving the benefits of walking or running now. If you already enjoy this form of exercise, try joining one of the running clinics or sign up for a local race. There is always something more you can learn about how to increase your fitness level and how to enhance your performance. 
Most often, people run and walk to stay in shape or to reach an optimal body weight. Health benefits are another motivation for walkers and runners. Blood pressure can be lowered by maintaining the elasticity of the arteries, which exercising helps to achieve. As a person walks briskly or runs, the arteries expand and contract more than usual keeping the arteries elastic and the blood pressure lower. The increase in breathing forces the lungs to use more tissue that results in using about 50 percent more lung capacity. This type of aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and helps prevent cardiovascular disease. Notably, the heart of an inactive person must work harder, in fact, it beats about 36,000 more times per day than in that of a runner.
If you start a walking or running program you will also slow down the aging process. That’s because your bones will become stronger by responding to the added physical demand that will lower your susceptibility to osteoporosis. There also are many psychological benefits. Increased endorphins are released with exercise, which create a sense of euphoria, and can help improve one’s mood. Additionally, a good walk or run will relieve stress and improve sleep.
Several studies have shown that children's attitudes about lifestyle habits are shaped by their role models, such as parents, teachers, physicians, and other relatives. Telling your family that exercise and healthy nutrition is important is not good enough. It is more effective to show them that being physically active is a priority in life. It isn’t necessary to be Mr. or Mrs. Fitness to lead your family to a healthier lifestyle, either.
In addition, it is important to exercise at your own fitness level. New runners should be consistent and progress slowly with speed and distance. Always consult your physician when starting any vigorous exercise program.
Meanwhile, take advantage of any opportunity to learn more by joining walking groups, running clinics, or employee programs. MUSC has many opportunities that will help boost accountability, consistency, and give you the chance to meet other fitness enthusiasts of similar abilities. Remember, the 2 Mile Wellness Run & Walk on Saturday, Sept. 20. Bring your family out for a fun event right here on the MUSC campus. 
Try these walking and running opportunities at MUSC and in the Charleston community:
  • 2 Mile Wellness Run and Walk: 8 a.m., Sept. 20
  • Health 1st Employee Wellness Program’s Walking Trails
  • MUSC Running Club with Billy Grimes (president), second year medical student. E-mail
  • Health 1st Wellness Teams— join a team, get your pedometer and log your 10,000 steps a day    
  • Ravenel Bridge—great for family walks and fitness runs
  • Community walk/runs such as Reindeer Run and Cooper River Bridge Run
  • Wellness Wednesday—Sign up for the 2 Mile Wellness Run & Walk from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 10 in the Children's Hospital lobby. Also, the Harper Student Wellness Center will have applications available to walk/run or volunteer. Exercise specialist will be talking about walking and running for fitness, injury prevention, and how to train for upcoming fitness runs. Information will be available on the upcoming half marathon training programs, running clinics, and other fitness programs.  

Friday, Sept. 5, 2008
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