Celebrate spring with a walk

Senior black couple walking in a park

By Chelsea Reinberg

As the days begin to get longer, and the nicer weather moves in and the colder weather moves out, it is important that we begin to move our bodies too!

During the winter months, we may find ourselves being a little less active than usual. Physical activity can significantly vary based on the seasons with winter having the lowest level of physical activity compared to other seasons. Performing regular physical activity is very important for all ages, including older adults.

All ages do not get enough movement in day-to-day activities. About 50% of adults and more than 75% of high school students do not get enough aerobic physical activity. In fact, one in four adults sits longer than eight hours a day.

Being physically active provides many benefits to your health. Regularly moving your body can help reduce stress, improve your mood, increase energy, improve sleep, prevent falls and help you better manage your diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and weight. Physical activity can also help make your everyday tasks a little easier , maintain independence as you age and keep up with your lively, full-of-energy grandchildren!

Older adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of movement that is moderate intensity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of a vigorous activity , such as jogging. You should also aim for at least two days a week of muscle strengthening activities and three days a week of balance activities.

If you cannot meet these recommendations due to physical limitations, chronic disease or illness, work within your limitations and aim to be as physically activity as your abilities and conditions allow. Remember, any movement or activity is better for you than no movement or activity! If you are currently not active, start with only five minutes and work up from there. You can do just five minutes multiple times a day to help you meet your 150-minute weekly goal.

Need some ideas on ways to become more active? Try joining a program, class or activity group. Think outside the box when it comes to getting active. Activities like gardening, housework and dancing are all ways to move your body and increase your activity.

The Walk Kansas health initiative, led by K-State Research and Extension, is also a great place to start! Walk Kansas is an eight-week walking program designed to help you lead a healthier life. Walk Kansas 2023 starts March 26 and ends May 20. Registration opens March 1. Gather up your family and friends and build a team of six people to go on the journey with you or sign up as an individual.

All ages are welcome to participate. Did you know, having an activity partner can help motivate you and keep you accountable to achieve your activity goals?

Participants in Walk Kansas will also have the option to participate in Med Instead of Meds, a six-session nutrition series focused on eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet. To learn more and register, visit walkkansas.org.

Questions? Contact 913-715-7000 or foodhelp@ jocogov.org.

Chelsea Reinberg is the nutrition, food safety and health agent at the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Office.