Celebrate National Walking Day with Walker Tracker

Walking in the Park

Grab a four-legged friend, and go for a walk to celebrate.

What is National Walking Day?

National Walking Day falls on the first Wednesday of April each year. It was created in 2007 by the American Heart Association (AHA) as part of their efforts to encourage people to live healthier, more active lives. This year, the AHA has designated April “Move More Month” and is kicking it off on–you guessed it–National Walking Day! The goal is to get individuals to commit to at least 30 minutes of walking today and to increase physical activity all month long.


How can you celebrate?

It’s easy, just make sure you get in a 30-minute walk today and find ways to be more active throughout the month of April! Here are some great ideas to get you up and moving:

  • Skip the car and opt to walk, bike, or take public transit to work.
  • Make your meeting a walking meeting and bring your coworkers along for the walk.
  • Turn two 15-minute breaks at work into walking breaks will get you to that 30-minute goal. Or walk on your lunch break!
  • Skip the TV and take the family for an after-dinner walk.
  • Give your dog the extra exercise he craves and take him for a bonus 30-minute walk.
  • Getting your friends together for a walk is a great way to be active and catch up!
  • Take a group fitness class.
  • The weather is getting nice, so head outdoors and take a hike.
  • Indulge your competitive spirit and challenge your friends, family, or coworkers to a step or activity challenge!

Group Walk Outside

How is Walker Tracker celebrating?

As walking enthusiasts, we are excited to celebrate National Walking Day and want YOU to join us! Today our staff will be making a point to get up and get moving, with everyone pledging to get in a 30-minute walk. We will be sharing pictures on our Instagram and Facebook pages using the hashtags #WalkerTracker #ThisIsHowIWalk #WeBeWalkin. Share a picture of you w     alking today with the hashtags #WalkerTracker #ThisIsHowIWalk to be entered in to win some sweet Walker Tracker swag!

Walker Tracker will be celebrating all month long with specials for new programs that sign up in April. Click here for more details.

Happy Walking!

Walk and Talk: Meet Bob – Living Proof Walking Is Great Exercise

I’d like to introduce you to Bob. Bob is technically 85 but insists he feels 35. Bob is inspiring and determined. Bob has walked every day since he started with Walker Tracker back on June 12, 2006. Throughout the past 11 ½ years, he has averaged just shy of 8,000 steps a day (7,728 to be exact)! Bob is a big fan of Walker Tracker and we are big fans of him! Recently, I got the chance to meet Bob in person and go on a walk with him through his hometown’s huge flea market that happens every month in Canton, TX.

As we walked and weaved through the stands and vendors I learned that Bob hasn’t always been so healthy and active. In fact, he says he weighs less at 85 than he did in the 6th grade. Despite working in the steel industry and military he remained a big guy for the majority of his life. His blood pressure was 204/105 at one point and he wasn’t feeling like his best self. It wasn’t until one of his highly active stepsons was nearly killed in a cycling accident in 2004 that he had the epiphany that he needed to get moving. He said to himself, “Where will I be in five years if I keep eating and drinking the way I am? I’ll be dead. I said one of my sayings, ‘you can’t do everything but you can do something!’ and I asked myself, what can I do? Well, I can walk!”. Bob hopped online (yes, he is by far the most technically savvy 80 something year old I have ever met) and searched for websites where you can track steps and that’s where Walker Tracker came in.

He happened upon Walker Tracker in its infancy and has praised the site and even promoted it on his own blog – beefitbob.com (did I mention he’s super technically savvy?!).

You can't do everything but you can do something. What can I do? I can walk!Since he began his journey he’s lost over 100 pounds and his blood pressure is down in the 90’s/50’s. He started doing 5K’s, 10K’s and even went to the state capital and had his hometown of Canton, TX declared the ”Walking Capital of Texas”. He’s become a motivational speaker and advocate for health and wellness in his area. He walks the walk and talks the talk. In fact, he even walked to the market to meet up with me! The biggest take away from our time together was “start small”. You may not be able to do everything but you can do something. So figure out what that something is. Is it drinking more water and less soda? Is it replacing chips with an apple for a snack? Is it registering an account at community.walkertracker.com so you can track your steps just like Bob? Start small and once you’ve made that action a habit, figure out your next something.

Try to dampen that ever-impulsive need for instant gratification as much as you can. So often if we do not see instant results we abandon what we were doing. Much of the things that are “worth it” take time and hard work. As Bob might say, the path to health and wellness is a marathon. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul and it takes training and discipline but once you’re there in the thick of it, and you find your cadence and what works for you it gets easier and enjoyable. It’s never too late to start! Take it from a guy who started in his 70’s and is still going strong almost 12 years later! Thanks for walking with us Bob and sharing your story!

Make sure to visit Bob’s website beefitbob.com to find out what WAFOWASL means and join Walker Tracker at community.walkertracker.com to join Bob and many others in a fun place where your success can be celebrated and quantified!

150 Billion Steps

That's really a lot of steps

As of yesterday, Walker Tracker tracked its 150 billionth step, or the equivalent 75,000,000 million miles.

I am really proud of this, and proud of every one of our members who’ve joined us in the journey.

So what does that mean? Collectively we’ve just about walked the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Other, direct impacts are a little trickier to measure, though we can certainly infer a tremendous net-good.

Here’s what we know about our members:

  • We know our members have been active. They’ve increased their health, improved their circulation. They’ve fended off heart disease and diabetes.
  • They’ve cut their medical costs. They’ve lost weight. They’ve regained the ability to do things they weren’t able to before.
  • They’ve driven less. In car-mileage terms, they’ve put about 41 thousand tons less  Carbon Dioxide into the air, or about the equivalent of two hundred thousand trees. Seriously, that’s amazing.
  • They’ve engaged with their neighborhoods more, chatted with workmates and neighbors and friends as they walked, which have yielded improvements to their happiness and social cohesiveness. They’ve altered their routines. Maybe some have had their lives changed.
  • They’ve improved their brains. Boosted their mood. Improved their memory. Enhanced their creativity.  A few profound ideas have surely been had; lightning strikes of inspiration only possible from the most basic and wonderful of ambulatory motions.

Congratulations to every one of you who put in the extra step. That’s a lot to be proud of.

 

Warm Up This Winter

I can’t say I’m a big fan of cold weather, but I accept it without much complaint. What choice do I have? While I wait for the milder temperatures of spring, I layer up and try to keep my same routines. Besides, there always good that can come with winter. For some, it might be the snow or beautiful scenery. For others, maybe it’s holiday traditions. For me, it’s an excuse to wear cute scarfs, hats, and gloves to brave the frigid climate.

In addition to the proper attire, I need motivation to stay active during the winter time. I like to invite others to activities, like bike rides and walks. Tracking activity with my Fitbit also helps me to remember to move more.

What can motivate you this winter season? Is there a race or sporting event coming up in spring you want to train for? How about rewarding yourself with a trip to the sauna when you complete 12 workouts or other activity-related goal?

Here are some tips to help you stay moving towards your fitness goals during the winter season. You’ll warm yourself up before you know it!

 

Safety First

With the shorter days, it is important to stay visible if you choose to be out in the late afternoon or at night. Always be aware of your surroundings and never assume everyone can see you. It will be easier to see and be seen if you use a flashlight and wear bright, reflective clothing or a headlamp. If you bike, remember to use both a headlight and taillight, as well as reflective stickers on the sides of your bike.


Embrace the Weather

As long as you have the proper equipment, such as insulating layers and water-proof shoes, you can still enjoy the great outdoors. If you live near hills or mountains, take advantage of the weather and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. If you are not near snow, try venturing out to hiking trails or parks. Don’t forget to be careful on slippery surfaces by wearing footwear with good traction.

 

Try Out New Moves

If you prefer to stay active inside, there are plenty of options. If you are a member of a fitness club, you can enjoy the workout equipment and classes offered. Why not try a new gym class, like hot yoga or martial arts class? Look to see if there are indoor tennis, basketball, soccer, rock climbing, or other sports facilities in your area.

 

Stay Home

There are also plenty of at-home workouts online or even create your own, no equipment required. Some squats, jumping jacks, and push-ups will get you breaking a sweat in no time. You can even perform exercises while watching TV or listening to a podcast or audiobook. Try to hit different muscle groups in the upper body, lower body, and core. You could also choose to invest in workout equipment, such as free weights or a cardio machine. Remember to stretch!

 

Have fun and stay warm this winter!

Walker Tracker’s Favorite Podcasts

10 Podcasts Walker Tracker is Addicted To

At Walker Tracker we’re all about motivation to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to working out sometimes that involves listening to music to get just the push you need to get up and get moving. But for me, music isn’t always my best motivation. I often find I’m listening to my favorite podcasts during my workout or when I’m sitting at home. I knew I couldn’t be the only one with a minor podcast addiction, so I asked around the Walker Tracker office and received an overwhelming response of podcast suggestions that I’d like to share with you.

Below is Walker Tracker’s 10 favorite podcasts that we can’t get enough of.  Check out our list and let us know what other podcasts we should add to the list.

 

The Curiosity Podcast
Each week, The Curiosity Podcast interviews experts on a variety of compelling topics. Curiosity has something for everyone. You can find stories about Science and Technology, Amazing Places, Food and Culture, and Mind and Body. That’s just the beginning. Curiosity is the podcast to listen to when you want to learn something new every day.

Lore
Not for the faint of heart, Lore is a critically acclaimed podcast that focuses on real-life scary stories. If you love sitting around a campfire and listening to hair-raising tales then this podcast is for you. Each episode explores the darker side of historical events, places, and people.

The Moth
The Moth broadcasts storytelling from live events they’ve held around the globe. This podcast is famous for its authentic stories of the human experience. Each show has a unique theme and different storytellers who share their personal experiences. One story may bring you to tears while the next can keep you laughing. You’ll never what to expect with The Moth.

Philosophy Talk
“Question Everything” is the best phrase to describe Philosophy Talk. This weekly podcast led by several Professors from Stanford University encourage their listeners to join them in examining a broad range of subjects. Their goal is to challenge their listeners to not only recognize their own beliefs and assumptions but also view issues from a new perspective.

Radiolab
Radiolab investigates a variety of topics on science and philosophy while presenting them in a unique and fun storytelling style. Episodes are broken into a combination of stories, musical cues, and interviews. The interviews are with experts in the field or with people that have an interesting story about the show’s topic.

Song Exploder
If you love music and are looking to learn more about your favorite bands and how they are inspired then give Song Exploder a try. This podcast asks musicians to deconstruct their songs and share their influences and their creative process. Song Exploder has talked with an extensive list of artists from Björk to Metallica. They have over 100 guests bands for you to choose from.

Ted Radio Hour
Ted Talks are famous for their inspiring speakers and subjects. This tradition continues with the Ted Radio Hour. An engrossing podcast that touches on a diverse mix of topics, ideas, and perspectives. Its thought-provoking content will give you something to contemplate throughout your day.

This American Life
This award-winning podcast has been going strong since 1995. Each week This American Life shares stories that follow a specific theme. Well known for its engaging storytelling the show isn’t afraid to experiment by creating unique episodes such as taping a show for 24 hours in all night restaurant or putting a band together from classified ads. With over 600 episodes you’ll find something that piques your interest or check out the host, Ira Glass’ recommended list of episodes:  “New to This American Life”.

The Tim Ferriss Show
You may know Tim Ferriss as a “self-experimenter” and best selling author of “The 4-Hour Work Week”. You can now follow him via his podcast The Tim Ferriss Show. In his show, he interviews notable professionals in a variety of fields and breaks down the steps they took to reach their success to help listeners find tools and strategies that may work for them.

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me
NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me is a quiz show which may cause you to laugh out loud. Each week call-in contestants and the show’s guests, which are experts in the news and entertainment industry, are asked to determine which provided news stories are true and which are made up. You may be surprised by which stories are actually true.

 

These are just a few of the many podcasts that we at Walker Tracker are listening to.  Do you have a podcast you listen to regularly? Share your favorites with us.

Alternative New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is approaching which creates an excellent chance to instill new habits. Check out some alternative resolutions below that are beyond the usual eat better, lose weight goals of years past.

 

A Year of Praise 

Do you recall the last time you were told good job or thanked for your kindness? Didn’t it just make your day? With this resolution, your goal is to make it a point to genuinely thank people for going above and beyond or for their kindness. You could turn someone’s day around completely with a simple “Thank you so much for making sure I got…” or, “You’re so kind to go out of the way to…”. Leave a positive review for a place, don’t bother with the bad ones. Ask to talk to someone’s boss or manager when they’ve given you excellent customer service. Don’t stop when it comes to strangers. Make it a point at home to tell your significant other thank you for cooking dinner or thank you for folding the laundry. Praise your children, co-workers, and friends. Brag about them and their accomplishments. Too often we expect good behavior and service but that isn’t always the case and instead of admiring those that do give it, we tend to point out those that do not. Make it a year of praise and see how lifting others up will end up lifting you as well!

 

A Year of Snail Mail

Are you like so many others and avoid the mailbox because it just has bills, statements, and junk? It’s a treat to get a card from someone! Start off your year with going through the calendar and marking everyone you hold near and dear to you and the date of their birthday. Next, mark anniversaries, weddings, graduations, holidays etc. Now, go to the store and walk straight to the card section. Grab some thank you cards, some birthday cards (bonus points if you find a different card for each person), and cards to fit the other occasions that will be celebrated this year. When you’re checking out, ask for a book of stamps. Now, put those cards someplace out in the open with a pen and the stamps right next to them. Make it a point to send out cards throughout the year. True, you will need to go back to the card section throughout the year because not all holiday cards are available year round but, as you get accustomed to sending out cards it may become a habit to swing by the card aisle. You will inevitably put a smile on someone’s face when they open the mailbox and see a handwritten card addressed to them. Who knows, you may get a few cards back in return!

 

A Moving Year

Whether your challenge is to walk more, exercise more, drink more water, eat better etc. there is a challenge to get involved in that can help keep you inspired and held accountable. If you’re not already registered with Walker Tracker, sign up for a free account at community.walkertracker.com where you can track your steps and walk along virtual routes to keep you motivated. Find some friends to cheer on and invite friends and family to join as well. If you upgrade to PRO you can even create your own challenges that you can invite your friends and family to participate in!

To keep that step count up, check out another great site, the 52 hike challenge. This global challenge asks you to go on one hike each week of the year. Share your pictures on Instagram and tag them with the hashtag #52hikechallenge and see where others who are doing the challenge are.

Have kids that you need to get outside? Check out Hike it Baby. Choose from your location and find a group of parents that get together with their kids and go for walks and hikes. Their motto is “No one is left behind” and you can choose from paved trails to wooded wilderness hikes. It’ll be fun for your kids and you to get out into nature and meet new people.

 

Picture a day

If you’re the sort of person that says, “Where did the year go?” then this challenge is for you! Try to take a picture every single day of the year. Sure, you will inevitably miss some. Make sure to post the picture somewhere (your Walker Tracker account perhaps?) with the date, why you took that picture, and who is in it, if anyone. At the end of the year, and for years to come, you will be able to look back and see just where that year went and all the wonderful, crazy, lazy, interesting things you did during 2018.

 

No matter what you choose to focus on in 2018 remember that every day is a new day and keep on trying. Post your goal somewhere where you will see it often to help remind yourself of your intentions for the day.

May you stay inspired and flourish!

Get Moving at Work – for employees & benefits managers

It is estimated that only one in five Americans achieves a relatively high level of physical activity at work1. Many of us are aware that it would be beneficial to incorporate more fitness into our work day, yet, where to start? A knowledgeable benefits or human resources manager can provide employees with options on how to make room for fitness in their work day.

The good news: Your benefits manager already knows that healthy employees are more productive, miss work less often and are overall happier and healthier people.  This means insurance costs are lowered. How great is that! You’re asking them for advice on something they already want you to do!

Here are some suggestions for both program admins and participants on how to incorporate wellness in the workplace:

Provide places to walk. If there is no place to walk at work it will be hard to encourage employees to do it. Management can be pro-active – build sidewalks and trails or investigate options for nearby sites where employees can walk. If there is really nowhere else to go, get creative – try measuring and marking the distance around the perimeter of a parking lot or set up a treadmill in an empty office space. One of our clients (a large hospital in Washington D.C.) set up a path inside the building using footprint stickers!

Track it. One of our favorite quotes is: “That which is measured, improves” – Pearson’s Law. We’re seeing more and more programs rewarding employees with wireless trackers so they can keep a record of their activities. If your team already has devices, set a goal that participants need to reach in order to be eligible to upgrade their device to something spiffier. If they do not have devices yet, you might want to create a mini challenge – those who complete it will be eligible to receive a new device. Get everyone on board with this one, wireless devices make it easy and fun for your employees to track their progress.

Get Paid to NOT Park it. A little extra cash at the end of the month can be a powerful motivator. Employees can be given the cash equivalent of the cost of parking if they refrain from driving to work. If parking is free at your workplace, an employer could give you extra benefits at work for not using a parking space. The other option is charging a hefty premium for the privilege of parking at work.

Build in “Walking Breaks”. In some workplace settings you’re sticking to a schedule and breaks are assigned. These companies are the perfect place to schedule “walking breaks” into the day. Your schedule may already include a lunch break and a morning and afternoon break, but let’s beef that up. Suggest that your employer schedule an additional 10 or 15 minute break for those who will walk during that time. Sure, a few minutes will be lost, but you will gain a much more attentive and effective employee.  It’s hard for upper management to miss this increase in productivity and quality.

Encourage walking, mass transit and carpools. Ask if your company will give employees a break on your health care premium if you walk to work, use public transportation, or carpool. For the folks who are carpooling, suggest they alternate days walking to one another’s house for the ride.

How’d you like to earn a day off with every 100 miles you log? At some workplaces you already can. Our admins can use the Walker Tracker program statistics to calculate when you deserve PTO or a paid lunch. Studies show that active employees get lots more done even with some extra days off.

Create friendly competitions. There’s no doubt that grouping co-workers into teams and recording steps can really get people involved. Yet, when setting up a competition it is important to be encouraging to everyone. Your ‘fit’ people will exercise with or without the program, focus on creating a competition that challenges them further. Offer a program that encourages and inspires beginners. Our points competitions are a great way to reward diligence and stick-to-it behaviors over high step counts. Want more ideas for competitions? Admins can ask their Walker Tracker program manager for ideas of how to build competitions that are inclusive to all fitness levels.

 

Sources:

1 Church TS, Thomas DM, Tudor-Locke C, Katzmarzyk PT, Earnest CP, Rodarte RQ, et al. (2011) Trends over 5 Decades in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and Their Associations with Obesity. PLoS ONE 6(5): e19657. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019657

Lost Lake Butte Trail

For our summer vacation this year my fiancé and I went out to a local campground called Lost Lake. The lodge and family friendliness reminded me of the movie “Dirty Dancing” and there was so much to do in and around the lake! Despite getting extremely sunburnt our second day we decided that we wanted to get a hike in. There are many trails to hike in the area but one we had heard really great things about was the “Lost Lake Butte” trail.

We started early right after breakfast since it was going to be hot that day and we wanted to hike while it was still relatively mild. Round trip the trail is 4.6 miles and I would say moderate in difficulty. There are a lot of rocks and tree roots popping up on the trail and it is a steep climb with several switchbacks. At first, once we got to the summit I didn’t see anything too worth while but after walking a little further we were rewarded with this…

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A gorgeous view of the north side of Mt. Hood! It was definitely worth the hike! We spent a good chunk of time up there taking in the view. If you are around Hood River or even the Portland area I highly recommend this hike! If you are nowhere close I ask you, where is a piece of nature nearby that you’ve been meaning to go to? Give yourself time, start early, bring snacks and water and go out for a little adventure one of these weekends. We saw kids literally running up this trail so don’t be deterred to bring your children also!

If you’ve recently gone on a hike, no matter where you are, share them with us! We’d love to hear about them and see your pictures too!

Walk With Purpose

There always seems to be a walk for something. Walk for Breast Cancer, Walk for Alzheimers, Walk for MS and so on. I do not think I know one person who hasn’t been affected by a disease somewhere in their lives. Personally, Alzheimers hit close to home for me with my grandma. These walks are usually short (5k or 3.1 miles) and help you to do a small part to support research and those suffering. Why not challenge yourself to find a walk to participate in for the end of the summer or fall? It’s true that often times these walks ask for a donation, but it is for a great cause and sometimes that money is just the extra bit of motivation needed to follow through. Get a few friends together, maybe find a cause that you and your co-workers would like to walk for. It’s great for families to do together also! Below I have listed some websites that you can click on and see if they have walks in your area.

Walk to End Alzheimers

Race for a Cure (Breast Cancer Awareness)

ZERO cancer (Prostate Cancer)

Relay for Life (American Cancer Society)

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes 

NAMIwalk (Mental Illness)

Light The Night (Leukemia & Lymphoma)

Those of course are just a few suggestions. I am sure that if you search for “insert cause+walk” in a search engine, you’ll more than likely find a walk or run to participate in. Now get out there, get inspired, get fit and make a difference!

7 Steps to Happy Walking Feet

You may have heard this time and time again but I am here to stress it once more, GET GOOD WALKING/RUNNING SHOES! Do you think pro football players use equipment from a second hand shop or helmets that are four years old? Do you think that Lance Armstrong rides a bike that he’s had for years kept in the back of a garage for training? I think not! The point is, they use the right equipment for the sport they are doing.

If you are not wearing the right shoes and you are walking or running several miles per week, it should be no surprise if your knees, shins, lower back, hips and ankles start to bother you. Yes, it is an investment. These shoes will not be cheap but your health and the future of your exercise routines will rely heavily on them. Below I have sifted through various websites and taken the best advice they have to give on how to go about finding the right shoe for you.

1. Go to the professionals. This means, go to a place that specializes in shoe fittings and most likely one that specializes in running and walking shoes. They are trained to find the right shoes for people and are often times runners/walkers themselves and understand the importance of a well fitted shoe.

2. Go get fitted at the end of the day. Your feet will be swollen and at their largest and wear the sort of socks you would normally wear when exercising. This will help with the fit since during a walk your feet swell and the more comfortable they are at this point means the more likely you will keep going.

3. Try on both shoes. The idea of having two different sized feet may seem a little strange, but it does happen. So don’t be alarmed if you find this happens to you, it’s best that you catch it now than trying to cram one of your feet into a small shoe.

4. Know your foot shape. Take a look at one of your barefoot prints. If you see that between your heel and ball/toes that it gets very slender you have high arches. The opposite is true for flat footed folk. It would be hard to distinguish between your heel and ball because it would all be even from back to front almost. There are shoes that cater to different foot shapes and this can help narrow down your shoe choices.

5. If you can, test them out. At the last store I went to they insisted that I run around the block and try the shoes out. It was important to them that I see if even in that small amount of distance a problem occurred. Try walking up stairs, if your heel is slipping this is a bad sign. Try walking down a ramp or stairs, do your toes start to hit the front of the shoe? Again not good. Especially since these shoes will eventually stretch and then your toes will really be ramming into the front. Ouch!!!!

6. If in doubt buy a running shoe. Running shoes translate well into walking shoes. However, the same cannot be said for walking shoes into running shoes. Walking shoes can be a little heavier and have support under the balls of your feet whereas running shoes have support under your heel and are light weight. If you are going to be walking at a fast pace or thinking of running go with a running shoe.

7. Six month rule. You may think that since you dropped a chunk of money on these shoes that they should last forever and wouldn’t that be so nice? But you are putting them through a lot! You’re beating them on pavement or a treadmill three-six times a week so they get pretty beat up pretty fast. The rule the folks at the stores will tell you is to replace your shoes every 350-400 miles or every six months whichever comes first. Don’t ignore this advice because if you keep using them and then something starts to hurt, it takes a long time to rehab what you have hurt and sometimes it never goes away.

So come on, I just gave you 7 reasons to go out and buy another pair of shoes! Who doesn’t love shoes? Remember also, that if these shoes are keeping you active and healthy that means less medical bills in the future and boy oh boy can those be expensive! Now go ahead, spoil yourself with the reward of great shoes that will make you smile when you see them and make your legs and feet happy too!

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Ellen,