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Overcome the obstacles and keep walking!

9 Jan

Nico, tango and I taking a rest after walking!

It’s true, it’s wintertime and it’s cold outside. If you are like me, the cold weather is not going to stop you from taking a walk outside. I understand that It’s much easier to sit inside on a frigid, blustery day and read a book, under a blanket while sipping a mug of tea but this can make it difficult for us to find that motivation we had, not too long ago on January 1st to exercise and get fit. The cold weather is only one of the many barriers that exists when trying to implement a physical activity routine, especially one focused on walking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists obstacles such as sidewalk conditions, crosswalks, lack of daylight in the winter, and safety from traffic and crime. But when we really think about it, we know that exercise is a necessary part of our daily routine. So if you won’t go outside for a walk because of one of these reasons, how you can get in 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of physical activity without being in fear of freezing our feet off? Mall walking! While this isn’t a new idea, or even a very creative one, the mall is extremely underutilized for those who wish to exercise. Shopping malls can offer some of the best perks, such as:

  1. Temperature-controlled building
  2. Easy to access bathrooms
  3. Free water fountains
  4. Flat and level walking route
  5. Well-lit and safe environment with a security presence
  6. Benches to rest
  7. No membership required, so family and friends can walk with you

Call a friend and go to the mall to walk. Research studies further suggest that when individuals exercise with a friend who is also motivated, they are more likely to exercise longer, harder and enjoy it more. The American Heart Association states that walking 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers.

Is walking in the mall challenging? Use the talk test. The talk test will determine if you are exercising at a moderate or vigorous level of activity. If you’re walking at a moderate pace, you should be able to talk, but not sing. Vigorous activity occurs when you are not able to say more than a few words without having to stop. If you walk into the vigorous zone, slow down or take a quick break to lower your heartrate to a moderate level.

Most malls open their front doors at least an hour early for mall walkers to have free reign. This is probably the easiest time to get your steps in, since you will not have to maneuver around crowds coming in and out of stores. It’s up to you if you want to tackle walking the stairs for a workout bonus.

So step into the land of department stores with your pair of walking shoes and have fun this winter! For more information on increasing your level of physical activity and walking, see the tips on UGA Extension website at http://www.fcs.uga.edu/extension/health-lose-weight-exercise.

Kristen Sumpter, UGA Extension Agent wrote the “Mall walking” article, I expanded on it and used it for this week’s blog.

 

 

Pokémon Go! Safely

14 Aug

croppedpokego

During the past several weeks, a new technology craze has invaded our towns and cities. People are wandering around aimlessly looking at their phones, it’s Pokémon Go. One of our avid collaborators, Ms. Keishon Thomas, the Macon-Bibb County Extension agent has come to our rescue to help us understand this new trend, and at the same time alert our readers about the importance of getting involve with the game, but in a safe way. Let’s review what Thomas says and get active!

The game’s developers, Niantic Laboratories, stated the intent was “to get players out and explore the world around them, explore their neighborhoods in a different way and get exercise”.  In this case, your phone shows the animated Pokémon and other characters in real time in your real environment.

The object of the game is to catch “Pokémons”, small animated characters that come in a variety of shapes and colors.  Players ‘hunt’ Pokémon by walking in their real environment armed with “Pokéballs”. Players are directed to landmarks called “Pokéstops”, where they re-up on Pokéballs and other tools to catch Pokémon characters. The Pokéstops are everywhere; parks, churches, government buildings and even at your neighbor’s yard. Because catching those little characters is distracting, players sometime put themselves into dangerous situations as a result of being unaware of their surroundings.

Be alert at all times. There have been reports of people walking into trees, traffic and even falling while playing.pokemon

Never go illegal to capture Pokémon. No trespassing or jaywalking. “Pokemons” can appear anywhere. Be safe and use common sense.

The animated characters appear on your phone in a real environment, they can appear in your car and they move to avoid capture. Driving requires your full attention and hunting Pokémon while driving is a no-no.   Arrive alive!!!

Download the right app from a trusted source such as the Apple Store or Google Play. There have been reports of apps that have malware that could harm your device.

Children should never play alone. They get distracted easily.  It’s rewarding to play along with your child and capture characters while exercising.

Monitor your data usage. The game utilizes GPS and therefore eats data for lunch and dinner.  It won’t be so fun when you receive your phone bill.

Players should also be mindful of in-app purchases. While the game app is free, there are in-app purchases within the game and they have a cost.  My children have been told not to purchase anything online unless they have permission for the purchase. The same goes for the Pokémon Go game.

Monitor the weather and stay hydrated. It’s hot outside and pop-up storms can hamper hunting.  Avoid complications from heat; carry water with you, take breaks in shaded areas, and wear sunscreen.

Lastly, Pokémon Go is a great way to connect generations, get active and have fun while doing so.     Good luck and catch‘em all!!!