Healthy Life, October 2015

Start Small and Get Active!

by Stephanie Ryan Malin

October is that lovely time of year when we all breathe a collective sigh of relief, welcoming in a change in the weather. Farewell heat and humidity, hello crisp fall air! With the reprieve from hot summer days, what better time to think about starting a new walking routine or returning to your outdoor running routine?

Katzmarzyk-2“It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to add in more activity to your day,” said Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, associate executive director of population research and physical activity researcher at Pennington Biomedical. “Exercise doesn’t have to be exclusive to going to the gym. If you want to get moving, try adding in just a few more steps here and there. Park just a little farther away from the grocery store or take a stroll around your office every hour.”

What is important, Katzmarzyk says, is moving away from sitting all day. Using our legs by walking, jogging—even standing—engages our leg muscles, which are the biggest muscle groups in our bodies. When we move our legs, we are burning glucose, which translates to more calories burned and a lowered chance of insulin resistance and diabetes.

“Our research shows that sitting too much, even if you work out regularly, can still be dangerous. That’s why we emphasize moving more throughout the day,” Katzmarzyk said.

His colleague at Pennington Biomedical, Dr. Robert L. Newton, Jr., suggests breaking down sedentary periods to no more than 60 minutes at a time.

“Even taking short breaks to stroll to a colleague’s office instead of picking up the phone or sending them an e-mail can make a difference. Over an extended period of time, we could see benefits for your heart, weight loss and we can reduce the risk for diabetes,” Newton said.

Lunch time is a prime opportunity to get in some quality movement, according to Newton. He recommends carving out time to get your heart rate up with moderate-to-vigorous activity.

“You’ll know you’ve reached that level when you’re out of breath, with enough air to talk but not to sing,” said Newton. “If you can take three ten-minute breaks throughout your day where you are getting to this point, you’ve reached the recommendation for 30 minutes of moderate to physical activity for your day.”

NewtonStarting small can be easy with Pennington Biomedical’s customized plans for walking, jogging and running.
Though they wrapped up their second annual community event – the Doc’s DASH 5k & 1-mile fun run on September 26 – they are still providing free beginner, intermediate and advanced walking and running plans for both 5K & 1-mile distances on their website:

“Exercise is really close to our hearts because it not only has numerous health benefits and helps to prevent against chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure – exercise is also a focus of our research. We’re already looking forward to Doc’s DASH 2016!” said Melissa Lupo, Doc’s DASH race coordinator.

If you are interested in learning more about customized training plans for walking, running or jogging, visit