Walking; Exercise for your Head

Scenario: You get to work and there’s ????????????????an empty donut box in the break room. The coffee pot is empty. In your email, there are already four fires and an invitation to a three-hour meeting. By lunch time, it’s hard to hear what your coworkers are saying over the sound of steam coming out of your ears.

When the pressure is on, how do you keep your head from exploding? One of the best remedies out there is going for a walk. I’m not saying that a walk will magically refill the donut box, but it may offer a timely escape so you can reset your brain. In fact, walking every day is good preventive medicine. I usually walk five days a week. (Coincidentally, I also work five days a week.)

If you’re ready to take the cure, here are my top five tried and true tips:

  1. Pick a convenient time. I hear morning walks are nice, but there is no chance in H that I am going to get up extra early. Plus midday or right after work is usually when I need the chill time, not the morning. So I use half of my lunch hour to walk.
  2. Schedule your walking time on your calendar. Since I work at a computer, I schedule a recurring appointment using my email software. A reminder pops up five minutes before it’s time to head out the door. (By the way, I schedule my lunch, too.) Another option would be to set a similar alert on your cell phone.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes and have them at the ready. This is the point in the article where I get on my soapbox. I sold shoes back in olden times, so please believe me when I tell you wingtips, work boots, pumps, or flip-flops won’t cut it for walking. Running, walking, or cross-training shoes all work well. Make sure they fit well and have plenty of room for your toes. The insole should be thick and cushy to absorb some of the impact of your heel hitting the ground and save your knees. And the shoes should have a nonskid tread so you will be less likely to slip if you walk on a smooth or wet surface.

    In addition to the shoes I have at home, I keep a pair of walking shoes at my desk. That way, I always have the right footwear when it’s time to walk, and I don’t have the schlep them back and forth between work and home.If you want to buy new, snazzy shoes for walking, you certainly can, but you don’t have to.

    Once my good sports shoes start wearing out, I turn them into new designated walking shoes and take them into work. Then, the old walking shoes become beach or garden shoes (or go into the trash).

  4. Hook up with walking buddies. You might be surprised how many other people need to escape. Pick friends/coworkers who don’t mind listening to a vent from time to time, and be a good walking buddy yourself by being willing to listen. I meet my walking buddies at the same place and time every day. Since we’re all at computers, I usually send an instant message reminder to the group about 30 minutes in advance. It helps to know who to wait for and who’s not going to show.
  5. Be safe. Walking with friends also increases your personal safety. Be aware of your surroundings—traffic, people, things on the ground. Let other people know about your walk. Keep safety in mind when choosing routes. Bring your cell phone with you.

Like any prescription, this comes with a warning: Side effects may include weight loss, more energy, and feelings of wellbeing. If you experience any of these symptoms, keep up the good work!

Local Teachers Reach for the Veggies

HealthySchools-FruitsVeggiesEver consider removing the unhealthy snacks in your life, and replacing them with fruits and veggies? Well, that’s exactly what local teachers have done these past four week!

To eat healthy for themselves, as well as demonstrate their habits to our youth, the Bethel and Springfield school districts have partnered together in the PacificSource Healthy Life Schools Challenge. During the challenge, teachers have replaced unhealthy and high-calorie snacks with fresh produce, and have been very successful doing so!

  • In four weeks, 1,449 Bethel and Springfield School teachers and staff participated in the Healthy Life Schools Challenge – that’s 74% participation!
  • Participants consumed a healthy 24,015 fruits and veggies throughout the Healthy Schools Challenge.
  • 6,479 unhealthy and high-calorie snacks were replaced with healthier options.

These teachers have set a higher standard for their health, and are setting a great example to our students, schools, and community! Though, you may have noticed that this is a challenge, and what is a challenge without a little competition! With each school tracking their habits, PacificSource has awarded $1,000 to the winning elementary, middle, and high school for the highest consumption of fruits and vegetables. Each school will use the prize to improve the health of their school! The winning schools are:

  • High School Winner: Kalapuya High School, Bethel School District
  • Middle School Winner: Shasta Middle School, Bethel School District
  • Elementary School Winner: Thurston Elementary School, Springfield School District

Congratulations, and thank you, teachers, for being great role models!

Patrick’s Commuting Adventures – Sunny with a chance of Bugs!

We are nearly half way through Bike and Walk to Work Month! And Patrick has shared another adventure during his ride home. Though, this time, it is not the weather providing the challenge!

Weather.com says I don’t need to worry about any surprise rain this time!  75 degrees and sunny without a cloud in the sky.  It’s days like this that I hope nobody from out-iStock_000036215810Smallof-town is here, because I can’t imagine anyone from anywhere not wanting to instantly move to the Northwest if they got to experience a day like this!  For bikers, it doesn’t get any better!

As I don my helmet and prepare to leave, I see a group of flying insects lit up by the bright afternoon sun.  They seem to be almost frolicking; a giddy dance without purpose or direction.  Little did I know what an ill-portent that would be for my trip home.

A few minutes into my relaxing ride, I get a rude awakening as an enormous flying insect decides to dive-bomb my ear.  In the blink of an eye, I process the split second crescendo of humming flight, then feel the dull thud of a collision immediately followed by the loud angry buzz of a bug trying to extricate itself from my ear.  It feels fuzzy and large, and fortunately is able to fly away before my natural instinct of smashing it can take over and inadvertently drive it into my brain.  Disconcerted but not permanently scarred, I ride on!

Sometime later a bug flies in my mouth.  It happens.  I’ve had worse.  I don’t know what it is, but it’s small and goes down quickly.  I figure it was about 0.02% of my RDA of protein.  Boy the bugs are active today; apparently Bug-Spring started today!

Later, I begin to cross the Knickerbocker Bridge over the Willamette River.  I’ve learned from experience that there are a couple spots that bugs like to hang out around this bridge.  The river is literally a spawning ground for gnats and the stupid ones seem to like to hover directly over the bike path – at head level no less.  I’m on high alert from my previous interactions with Order Diptera, so I easily spot the swarm dead ahead and have plenty of time to close my mouth – careful also to breathe out so they don’t fly up my nose.  I feel a few hit my face but none manage to lodge themselves in any orifices, and I emerge unscathed.

I’ll still take 75, sunny, and buggy over 37, rainy, and bug-less any day!  Bring on Summer!