Editor’s Note: This week’s Nutrition Corner column was written by Katharine Tebbetts, Marywood University Dietetic Intern
Making use of space in your community can be a great way to incorporate walking as a new healthy habit to add to your lifestyle. Whether it’s a public park, a picnic area, a path around a lake, city sidewalks or a local shopping mall, using these spaces for physical fitness can improve many aspects of your life.
Walking is an exercise that is simple, easy and relaxing. It can be as simple as a stroll in the park or as intense as a vigorous hike. Walking can be done almost anywhere and it also does not require a gym membership or expensive equipment, just a comfortable pair of shoes.
Walking with friends or family is surely more fun than walking alone. Find a walking buddy and work together to improve each other’s health. Make walking a family activity; the kids will love being outside. Some may be celebrating Easter so create a family walking egg hunt. Perhaps make this activity a friendly competition to get everyone moving. Remember the family pet; your dog can be a great walking companion.
According to the Center for Disease Control, walking can reduce symptoms of stress such as irritability, anxiety, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, anger, sadness, aches and pains and trouble concentrating. Walking at a moderate to brisk pace (still able to hold a conversation) can increase the strength of your heart and lungs. Walking can also lower blood pressure, improve sleep patterns, increase energy throughout the day and reduce the risk of other diseases. Walking is also low impact, meaning it puts very little strain on the bones and joints. Walking daily, with the help of a balanced diet, can also help burn calories, increase muscle and weight loss.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical per week. This goal can be accomplished by walking for only 20-30 minutes every day. The guidelines also recommend that children and adolescents be active for at least 60 minutes every day. If you are new to walking, start out slowly and gradually increase how long and how fast your walk is. Start out walking 10-15 minutes a few times per day until you feel good walking 20-30 minutes at once. It is also important to remember to warm up through various stretches to get your muscles ready and to also cool down at the end of your walk. This can be done by walking a few minutes longer at a slower pace.
Take time this spring to get outside with your family and enjoy the weather through walking. When you return from your walk, try a new spring quick and easy-to-make recipe. This recipe has spring peas as a source of protein.
In this perfect family dish that is quick and easy, you can actually cook the peas just by draining the pasta over them in a colander. Add a salad and skim milk to complete the meal. Enjoy!
Place 2 cups (10 ounces) of frozen peas in a colander in the sink. Cook 1 pound of small-size whole-wheat pasta shells or mini penne as directed on the box. Before draining, take a mug and scoop out about ½ cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta in the colander over the peas. Pour the pasta and peas in a mixing bowl, adding in 1-tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Season with pepper if desired and mix well. If the pasta seems dry, add in some of the reserved cooking water and mix again. Add ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese and serve warm.
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at email@example.com.