Aah, Spring. When a not-so-young nurse's fancy turns to thoughts of getting out and spending some time in the fresh air. I hope you all had a Happy Easter, and that you are ready to walk off all those chocolate bunnies, eggs, and marshmallow Peeps!
Walking is an awesome exercise, doesn't require any special equipment beyond a decent pair of shoes, makes us feel more a part of our surroundings, and is great for the heart and lungs.
Good walking technique promotes balance, joint flexibility, and range of motion. Walking is a super way to take an active role in your health by getting that blood pumping in accordance with the American Heart Association's recommendation of half an hour per day of cardio exercise for a healthy heart.
Walking is also good for helping manage cholesterol and promoting weight loss, especially when used in conjunction with a healthy diet.
Actual social networking
Walking on the buddy system has many benefits. Taking a nice walk and having a nice talk with a good friend can be a great way to catch up on socializing, as well as reinforce each other's good exercise habits. If you can carry on a conversation while taking a walk, that means you're not too winded. In other words, you're getting plenty of healthy oxygen into your lungs.
Sometimes, especially if you don't live in a particularly walkable area with good sidewalks, it can be a challenge to find fun places to get out and move your feet. To that end, visit the American Heart Association's Start! program's Find a Walking Path website. Just sign up (it's free), sign in, plug in your zip code and preferences, and search for walking paths in your area. If you like a certain walking path and want to share it with others, you can do that, too. New routes are added all the time, so check back often.
The Androids you're looking for
If you're partial to your Android phone -- and you may well be, because as this week’s Nielsen numbers show, fully half of all smartphones sold run on Android, a usage percentage that’s far more than any other mobile OS, including iOS, which has a comparatively paltry 25% market share -- you're also in luck.
You can find nearby walking paths, as well as create new ones on the fly. That way you can remember a good thing when you find it, and can repeat the joy later. It has a social networking aspect, as well, because the more people share, the more the database of walks will improve.
Unfortunately, I can't do a hands-on review, because I don't personally have an Android phone. If you download and try the app, let us know how it goes in the TalkBacks below!
What, no Apple for me?
If you (like me) are an iPhone user, and you'd like to be part of the walking fun, you also have something to look forward to. The app is coming soon for the iPhone. There's a banner up on the American Heart Association's "My Heart. My Life." Walking Paths App website that announces it's imminent arrival in Apple's App Store on May 2.
In the meantime, put on your walking shoes and use the online version. Or better yet, buddy up with one of your Android toting friends, and take a walk in the springtime sunshine while you argue the various merits of your respective smartphone platforms of choice. Fight nice, kids.
What's your favorite walk? Are you going to download the app and share it? Let us know in the TalkBacks.