3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Walk

IMG_2891Ok, so you already know how to walk. You probably learned when you were a toddler, and you’ve been walking like a champ ever since. While it’s the tried-and-true method to get from “point A” to “point B,” it’s also chalked full of healthy benefits? It’s the ultimate stress reliever, it strengthens your bones, and it’ll keep your body in tip-top shape.

With that in mind, there are few ways to maximize the benefits of walking. So even though you already know the basics, here are a few tips to help get the most out of your next walk.

1. Pay attention to your form

Believe it or not, walking does take some technique. It doesn’t need to be difficult (we’re still talking about walking here), but here are few things to think about when you’re walking:

    • Keep your head up
    • Make sure your shoulders are down and relaxed
    • Keep your stomach muscles tight. Not strained, but engaged.

2. Find your routine

If you stretch before or after a walk, keep it consistent (your body craves consistency). Try to keep your warm up, walk, cool down, and stretching the same every time. Keep it simple and your body will thank you for it.

3. Track your progress

One of the best ways to battle a lack of motivation is to keep track of your achievements. Whether it’s walking a new trail or reaching a goal, it’s vital to track you progress. You’ll gain confidence, which will give you a boost when you start to get tired.

You can learn more about the benefits of walking from the Mayo Clinic.

I walked for KIDSPORTSIf you live in Eugene and you’re inspired to get out and walk, join us tonight at Walk It Off For KIDSPORTS! If you check in from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at Alton Baker Park, we’ll donate $1 for every mile walked to KIDSPORTS! We’re shooting for 2,000 miles, and we need your help to get there.

Hope to see you there!

Riding with Northwest Association for Blind Athletes

IMG_6694Since I was blessed with decent vision, I take a lot of activities for granted. I can run, I can play sports, and despite my gangly legs and propensity for poor decision-making on the field, I can exercise without a second thought. I’m lucky. But until I met Billy Henry with the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA), I didn’t realize just how fortunate I really am.

For those who are blind or visually impaired, living an active lifestyle comes with a lot of challenges. People who are visually impaired are often left out of sports with their peers, and lots of ordinary exercises pose obstacles if you can’t see well. That’s why Billy, the Executive Director of NWABA, works with schools, communities, and organizations to adapt a variety of sports to allow visually impaired people to participate. With NWABA, the same competition and exercise of these sports exists, they’re just subtly tweaked to take vision out of the equation. When we heard about NWABA’s mission, we were pretty darn inspired. So I asked Billy if there was a way we could support the cause. Billy’s response; “Have you ever ridden a tandem bicycle?”

IMG_0847Turns out, NWABA has a fleet of tandem bikes that they use to let visually impaired people ride with a volunteer on the front to guide. That way, they get the speed and exercise of a brisk bike ride without the danger. With Billy’s help, I recruited a few PacificSource volunteers to come ride with kids in Corvallis.

Thanks to my job, I get the chance to attend a lot of community events (all over the Northwest), but I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable volunteering I’ve ever done. Here’s why:

1) The kids. We got to ride with some of the greatest kids I’ve ever met. These guys were upbeat, funny, outgoing, and so welcoming to a bunch of nervous volunteers (nervous, because we had no idea what to expect). Not to mention, they were absolutely fearless! I was so inspired by their willingness to talk about themselves as we pedaled through Corvallis. On all of my rides, I became great pals with my co-pilots.

2) The volunteers. Along with the PacificSource volunteers, there were teachers, family members, and a bunch of other kind-hearted riders on hand. Most of them had a much better understanding of visual impairments than we did, and all of them were willing to take the time to introduce to the kids, prepare us for the ride, and eliminate any fears we had of steering our kids into danger (I’m not going to lie, I was terrified of a crash and burn).

3) It was way, way fun! Plain and simple, we got to spend a couple of hours riding bikes with kids in Corvallis. That’s an awesome way to spend an afternoon.

I got to ride with Zach, Jacob, and Alex, all of whom were machines on the back of my bike! We raced other pairs, screamed under a covered bridge, and had an absolute blast. I’m sure the kids had fun, but I can almost guarantee I had a better time than anyone.

To Billy and everyone else at NWABA, thank you. I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed the experience. We learned a ton about these kids, and they’re some of the bravest people I’ve ever met. Considering NWABA provides sports for people throughout the Northwest, these bike rides are only a drop in bucket. These programs are phenomenal, and I can’t wait to support their organization again. To learn more about NWABA, or to support their cause, check out their website: http://nwaba.org/

Here are some snapshots from our day in Corvallis:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Related Post: Cycling for Oregon Supported Living Program

How a Garden Can Help a Community

Holly Davis, Donna Wile, and Mari RiosThey’re a stress reliever, they yield delicious results, and they’re “green.” If you’re looking for an idea to live a healthier life, gardening is a great place to start. Since healthy employees are happy employees, Sara, one of our PacificSource Human Resources elite, came up with an idea to create a wonderful way to get our employees outdoors, active, and eating well. She was the driving force behind our employee garden. But she didn’t stop there, she also found a way to benefit the entire community. Here is her story about the beginnings of the PacificSource employee garden:

Meet Sara, our PacificSource Gardening Capatin.

Meet Sara, our PacificSource Gardening Captain

The idea for our garden came from a magazine article I read a while ago about companies that were creating a more impactful green space for their employees in the form of a garden. Seeing as our company is built on the idea of bettering the community and improving employee wellness, I thought we would be a great candidate for this kind of project.

I proposed the idea in 2009 thinking we would maintain only 2 or 3 garden beds, clearly, I needed to dream bigger. We began planting in 2010 and currently have 28 garden beds, which yield an incredible amount of food every season, and is completely employee run. As a volunteer, our employees are able to bring home much of the produce. But we also built in a way to benefit the food banks in Lane County. All of our volunteers agreed to donate at least half of the produce grown. After a few years, our employees love giving the produce to our food banks. As it turns out, we donate closer to 80 percent of what is grown, and our employees continue to take part just for the love of it.

We don’t have a scale to weigh what we donate, but the folks at Food for Lane County and the Eugene Mission estimate that we give roughly 100 pounds every week. We donate about 20 weeks out of the year, which means we donate nearly 1 ton of produce each season. I cannot imagine what 3 to 4 tons of veggies look like, but I am so glad they made it onto the plates of those in need.

While most of our gardeners are novices, we’ve gotten better at it each year. What’s most exciting is that we’ve been able to build a similar garden at our Bend office. Next stop Boise and Helena! It’s been an excellent project, and our employees are happy to share with friends and family. Whenever I sign up for watering on the weekend I always bring my dog. She gets so excited, she just can’t help herself from running to HER garden. My husband likes helping too, he just doesn’t pant as much as my dog! This project has been such a great way for our employees to get out and take a break, if you don’t garden, I would highly recommend it!

Special thanks to Sara and all of our employees who take part in keeping our garden green and healthy. We know it gives you a break from work, but it also helps feed some people in need. Thanks for being so darn awesome!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.