Discover New Places in the Process
From the Summer 2012 Issue of For Your Benefit Newsletter
Walking is an easy, low impact way to increase your physical activity and path to wellness. The benefits of walking are many:
- Lowers the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, and osteoporosis;
- Helps keep your weight in check, increasing the number of calories your body uses;
- Strengthens your bones and muscles;
- Reduces stress;
- Gives you more energy; and
- Tones your muscles.
WalkBoston, an organization dedicated to making communities across Massachusetts safer and more walkable for pedestrians, cites some compelling studies about the benefits of walking in their “Walk Your Way to Health” brochure:
- Women who walk three or more hours per week reduce their risk of a coronary event by 35% compared with women who do not walk, according to a Women Nurses’ Health Study; and
- Retired men who walk more than two miles per day have half the mortality rate as those who walk less than one mile per day according to a Harvard University study.
Best of all, with the exception of the cost of a good pair of sneakers, walking is free. If you are new to walking, check with your health care provider before making walking a part of your routine. The Weight-control Information Network, a service of the National Institutes of Health, has helpful publications about what to know before you begin walking.
Discover New Places
Walking gives you a great opportunity to socialize with friends and family. With summer beginning, it’s a great time to explore new places as you boost your health and well-being.
WalkBoston : Select “Maps” from walkBoston’s website and find over 50 walking maps covering an array of places to discover for the first time, or discover anew: Deer Island in Winthrop, the Avenue of the Arts, the river paths of Everett, Somerville and Medford, and Boston’s waterfront and Seaport district.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) : The steward of one of the largest park systems in the country has almost 70 state park trail maps on their website. Climb Mount Greylock, bring a picnic on your walk through Nickerson State Park, and go for a dip in Houghton’s Pond while hiking through the Blue Hills Reservation.
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA): The MWRA recently announced that it will allow public access to their 40 miles of trails atop the Cochituate, Sudbury, Weston and Wachusett aqueducts. As the area communities approve access to these trails, MWRA will post the trail maps on their website.
Join a Walking Group
Don’t have a friend to go with or don’t want to walk alone? There are many group walking events to join. Some popular groups include:
Department of Public Health Keep Moving : The Department of Public Health’s Keep Moving Program, geared to people over the age of 50, has a directory of walking clubs across the state on their website. Additionally, they offer walking events during the spring and fall.
Every Body Walk : This online resource, spearheaded by Kaiser Permanente, offers apps for Apple and Android devices that track your walking progress and helps you locate local walking groups and paths.
American Heart Association Start Walking: The American Heart Association’s online walking resource provides tools to find local walking clubs and trails and track your progress. Their walking app will help you create and find walking paths and track your progress.
Boston by Foot : This nonprofit educational corporation offers regularly scheduled guided tours of Boston from May through October. Check out their website for the schedule.
Take Advantage of Your GIC Health Plan Wellness Programs
The winter issue of our For Your Benefit newsletter included a helpful chart outlining the various wellness programs offered through each of the GIC’s health plans. This chart is available on our website, and many of the plans’ websites include walking information and resources. Additionally, if you are eligible for the GIC’s WellMASS Pilot Program (GIC health plan members who are active state employees working in the Executive Branch, Constitutional Offices, and the Legislature, and state retirees ages 55-64 and their GIC-covered spouses), be sure to take advantage of this program’s exercise tracking resources as well: GIC Homepage.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.