Message-from-the-Director

Message from the Director

Recently, while in the supermarket waiting in line to get checked out, my eye fell on the magazine Woman's World. Like everyone else, I guess, I enjoy looking at some of the outlandish headlines on those strange magazines and papers one sees at the checkout counter, such as "Elvis and Martian get married," or some such foolishness. The headline that caught my eye in Woman's World, though, struck closer to home: "Walk off 103 lbs!" I thought, wow, another exaggeration. But, I bought the magazine anyway and took a look at the article. It was a story about Kirsten Helle, who at the beginning weight of 230 lbs, started walking – at first in her house because she was too embarrassed for her neighbors to see her. Then, as she gained confidence, she started walking outdoors. To make a long story short, she walked off 103 lbs, and did she do it by walking an hour at a time? No, she did it by walking in 10 minute intervals. Yep, 10 minutes, at least three times a day.

This spoke to me because walking has been my exercise of choice for the last several years, but I was always looking for 45 minutes to one hour time slots for my walking, and I was doing pretty good, walking at least 45 minutes three to four times a week. Then, for some reason, I stopped. There was a lot of travel, and pressures at work, and I no longer could find the 45 minutes to one hour time slots that I thought I needed. After not walking for quite a few months now, I could both see it and feel it in my body. And this article showed me what a fool I'd been. I could certainly walk 10 minutes three times a day, indoors or outdoors didn't matter, as long as I walked. There is research to show that walking shorter times more often during the day might even be better than walking longer times because the metabolism gets revved up each time you walk. Take a look at this excerpt from the article:

"Just put on supportive shoes and go! Per Harvard research, 10 minutes of walking is all it takes to release a flood of compounds that boost fat burning. Called metabolites, they also help kill hunger. And since you trigger them each time you walk, three mini walks means triple the metabolites – with no extra effort! Does pace matter? Early on, it's more important to do what feels good and form a new habit. 'Once you have success under your belt, it gives you a psychological lift that sets you up for more success,' promises University of Wisconsin's Dan Schmidt, Ph.D. Gradually work up to a brisk pace that still allows you to carry on a breathy conversation."

Well, I can do that! Can you do that? Join me in rededicating yourself to walking – only 10 minutes each time. To help you in this lifestyle choice, contact us (504-988-7410 or prc@tulane.edu ) and let us know about your decision, and the Tulane Prevention Research Center will send you a walking pedometer/ stopwatch to help you along.

In fairness, I have to mention that Kirsten also changed her eating habits. No, she did NOT go on a diet, but she started eating healthier meals and adjusting portion sides, such as half a sandwich rather than a whole sandwich at a meal.

You know what? I think we can do that, too.

Carolyn C. Johnson, PhD, FAAHB
Director, Tulane Prevention Research Center

August/September 2016

Topics:   walking , physical activity , community health , health communication , built environment , sidewalks

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