A recent report from the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) had good news to share: more Americans are going for a walk! The percentage of people who said they went for a 10-minute walk at least once in the past seven days rose from 56 percent in 2005 to 62 percent in 2010.
True, it’s not a huge increase, but I choose to be encouraged by this finding. To me, it demonstrates a small, yet significant, ‘step’ in the right direction of more regular physical activity patterns in our country, a pattern mirrored in the lives of many of the pastors we work with through Spirited Life. Just this month, I’ve spoken with several pastors who have set a 10-minute sized goal for walking. Here is how it is working for them:
- Several members of one pastor’s congregation live within a mile of the church. The pastor straps on his walking shoes and uses his legs, not his car, to get him to a visit.
- Instead of going directly from car to office, another pastor finds that 10 minutes of walking around the church and church grounds before heading inside is a way to clear his mind before the work day.
- There is a walking path at a hospital where a third pastor makes regular visits, and she takes advantage of the opportunity to use a paved, traffic-free trail.
- Another pastor takes a lap around the church’s neighborhood late afternoon and uses the time to mentally prepare for evening bible studies or meetings.
I’m really pleased to hear about these 10-minute walks because they demonstrate the pastors’ conscious choice to alter their routines and introduce a healthful practice. The walks also can serve as a time to pray, to re-group, to reconsider if you were really hungry for a snack (or just bored), to get outside, or to listen to music.
For many people, the most challenging part of introducing exercise is finding the time, but starting with 10 minutes is a good place to start. To reap additional health benefits, the duration will need to increase, but the exercise doesn’t necessarily have to occur in a single bout. Researchers are learning that taking several 10-minute walks throughout the day is just as effective at controlling blood pressure as taking a single, longer walk of the same duration.
What strategies do you use to incorporate walking into your routine?
— Catherine Wilson