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A brisk, moderate or just a leisurely walk can do amazing things for you. Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. Just 30 minutes a day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat and boost muscle power without having to spend any more than $25 or $30 for a pair of jogging shoes.

Antelope Valley Partners for Health (AVPH) hopes that thousands of locals will participate tomorrow morning in the seventh annual Warford Walk for Wellness at Domenic Massari Park, 33716 55th Street East in Palmdale. The free 3.2-mile event along the park’s picturesque walking path will begin at 9 a.m. sharp, proceeded by registration at 8 a.m. and a brief stretch at 8:45 a.m. to get the muscles loose and juices flowing. The YMCA will conduct a half-hour Zumba class as well.

Walk with family and friends

Event organizers invite the public to come out and walk alone, with a friend, or form a group, the latter of which can be composed of families, friends and even businesses. AYPH wants to increase awareness about the benefits of a simple, daily walk and has joined with community leaders, faith-based organizations, businesses and residents to shine a spotlight on the ongoing health crisis not only in the Antelope Valley but throughout Los Angeles County. The Department of Public health has published findings on the health disparities of Antelope Valley residents compared to surrounding regions, and reported that this portion of the county has the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, asthma, depression and suicide. It’s not just the low-income population suffering, but practically everyone who resides in the region.

“Many health problems can be addressed through walking,” said Trish Bogna, director of adult and senior programs with AVPH. “Walking helps a person stay flexible. For seniors, it can assist with balance. And it’s great for independence which is something many seniors miss because of advanced age.” Bogna explained that many seniors believe that a motorized scooter is the best way to get around because their muscles have weakened, thereby causing pain. “They may not need them so soon,” Bogna explained. “Sitting all day makes you gain weight which can lead to further health problems. Walking is ‘doable’ for people who cannot do a Zumba or ‘spin’ class.

Ongoing health crisis in AV

Expect an excess of 200 people tomorrow. The event has gotten larger each year and AVPH staff are said to be “super excited,” says Bogna. They want to get residents “out and about,” she said “because walking leads to good physical condition and you can make lots of friends. Come on out and try it.”

One of the major health concerns with residents of the Antelope Valley is asthma and various allergies. Bogna explained that the ever-present sand particles of the region—and the dry climate—can result in breathing difficulties in some residents. Also, many persons from Los Angeles (i.e. former residents of the 710 Freeway Corridor and their resultant inhalation of big rig fumes) who have moved to the area in recent years didn’t always receive good health care and arrive with any number of ailments. “We recognized that early, and have been working at successfully reducing the numbers, particularly cases of asthma,” she said.

Maintaining good physical fitness does not have to be strenuous, time consuming or expensive. Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, perfect for any time or type of day (even during a light rain shower), and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about the risks associated with some more vigorous forms of exercise. Walking is also a terrific form of physical activity for those who are overweight and elderly or persons who haven’t exercised in a long time. Walking for fun and fitness is not limited to strolling by yourself around local neighborhood streets. There are various clubs, venues and strategies you can use to make walking an enjoyable and social part of your lifestyle.

There’s a walking path nearby

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) suggests residents take advantage of a number of county-certified walking paths, one of which is in Lancaster. It begins at the Antelope Valley Health Center, 335 B East Ave., K-6. From the main building, exit and proceed east on East Avenue K-6. Turn right on Gingham Avenue, and then left on East Avenue K-8. From there, proceed to 7th Street East and walk to East Avenue K-4 and turn left. Turn left once more at Division Street and make another left turn at East Avenue K-6. The department calculated the distance, steps taken, the time it takes, and how many calories can be burned. For most of us, it will take about 3,860 steps to complete the near two-mile walk. Someone weighing a 120 pounds can burn about 123 calories (at three miles per hour), 160 pounds (164 calories), 200 pounds (205 calories) and a person weighing as much as 250 pounds may burn as many as 240 calories. The time for the regimen, of course, depends on how fast you walk (e.g. 29 minutes at four miles per hour, 38 minutes at 3 miles per hour and 58 minutes at two miles per hour).

Most women who have recently given birth tend to have a difficult time getting rid of “baby weight.” Walking is perfect for this objective. The DPH reports that women that do not walk after having a baby may keep up to 15 pounds of the pregnancy weight. Walking burns calories and can help you drop those extra pounds. The recovery period after birth can leave some women with unhealthy weight and make then at a risk of having blood clots which, over time, can travel to the heart and lungs and block blood flow. Walking helps to lower the risk. Then there are the “baby blues” common with some new mothers. A 25-minute walk will energize you and lower feelings of anxiety and depression.

Lower chances of diabetes, heart disease

Women’s health has become a top priority of health care providers nationwide. Again, the DPH suggests that a brisk walk each day can lower the risk of diabetes, and at least one to two hours of weekly walking could possibly lower the risk of breast cancer. You can make muscles and bones stronger—particularly useful when your baby begins to crawl at breakneck speed, then learns to walk and soon starts running all day, everyday—so get those leg muscles firm and strong and put the baby in a stroller or carrier and go for a walk. Also, many pediatricians believe that it is never too early to begin teaching your child healthy habits (there’s a bonus for mothers, too, because babies love the rocking motion of the stroller and will usually fall fast asleep after five or 10 minutes).

One of the foremost health benefits of walking is that you carry your own weight while exercising or (“weight-bearing” exercise). Among the benefits of this form of physical fitness are increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (hart and lung) fitness; reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, and improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness. Also, walking regularly can result in stronger bones and improved balance, increased muscle strength and endurance, and reduced body fat.

In the late 1960s Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the famous exercise physiologist, helped to coin the phrase “aerobic exercise” which combined stretching and strength training as part of an overall fitness regimen. Walking could be the most practical way of achieving and maintain good physical fitness while being cost effective and fun at the same time. To get the health benefits, try to walk as briskly as possible for at least 30 minutes at least three times a week. Moderate exercise like walking poses little risk to your health, but if you have a medical condition it is important that you confer with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.

30 minutes a day keeps doctor away

People who have not exercised in some time should gradually build up to 30 minutes—at 10-minute intervals—maybe three times a day. If your goal is to lose weight, you’ll probably need to do physical activity for longer than 30 minutes daily and this can be achieved by simply beginning with smaller bouts of activity throughout the day and increasing these as your fitness improves. Physical activity can be integrated into your daily routine, such as taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator (for the first two or three floors), exiting public transportation one stop earlier and walking to your destination, walk to local shops instead of driving and walk your dog in the evening.

It is preferable that you make walking a routine. For example, try to walk at the same time each day. People tend to use the same amount of energy no matter what time of day they walk. Therefore do what is most convenient for you. Asking someone to walk with you—particularly during your daily “constitutional” at work—can help make exercise a regular activity. It is advisable to maintain a comfortable intensity for walking, that is plan to cover a set distance each day and monitor how long it takes you to walk this distance. As your fitness improves, you will be able to walk a longer distance and use more energy. In this instance, wearing a pedometer can help you monitor the number of steps you take and you can also use this device throughout the day and compare it to other days or to recommended amounts of walking. Today’s more high-tech pedometers can be monitored on a smartphone and are designed to motivate you to move more. Most pedometers provide a recommended number of steps (i.e. 10,000 steps or more) accumulated each day to achieve maximum health benefits.

More Americans are walking

Walking fast burns more calories than walking slowly, but this does not mean you have to push yourself until you’re out of breath. Pace yourself so that you can still talk, which means that you are exercising safely within your target heart rate. As you get accustomed to more physical activity, you will begin to increase your intensity as you improve your physical fitness. Beginners, for instance, will find that they can soon begin walking up hill, use hand weights and find that they can speed up a little by including some “quick walking.” In time you will begin to increase the distance you walk before returning to a moderate walking pace, and you will discover that you’re walking a little longer each time.

Americans are lacing up their sneakers and walking more than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that more than 145 million Americans now include walking as part of a physically active lifestyle. They offer a number of tips to keep you active, healthy and “on point” even during the most trying, hectic days:

—Park the car at the shopping center and walk to all your nearby errands;

—Find a walking buddy and meet at the same time most days to go for a brisk walk;

—Host a “walking meeting” which can be an opportunity to discuss work issues with your colleagues, and then hit the conference room with increased energy and confidence;

—Make a “walk-and-talk” date with a friend or family member. Skip the latte and do a loop around the neighborhood instead;

—Take a walking lunch break at work. Keep extra shoes and socks in your desk drawer or filing cabinet;.

—Want to stop smoking? A brisk walk releases endorphins, the body’s natural opiates, designed to relieve stress and enhance pleasure.