The benefits of regular, brisk walking include stronger bones, regulated blood sugar levels, and lowered blood pressure and cholesterol. And California-based health plan Kaiser Permanente has launched an educational campaign called EverybodyWalk to spread the word.
The idea is this: While many people have clung tight to the idea that in order to be healthy, they have to walk 10,000 steps a day – which equates to about 5 miles – that isn’t necessarily true. It takes almost two hours to hit the 10,000-step mark. But aiming for 30 minutes a day at a challenging pace is more than sufficient, says Kaiser Permanente executive Ray Baxter, PhD, who not only backs the idea up, but has adopted the practice for he and his employees as well.
“We actually do have walking meetings at Kaiser Permanente, believe it or not,” says Baxter. “My team is pretty productive, so it must be working.
Baxter told NPR that in our culture, if we’re trying to solve a difficult problem we typically sit across from one another and try to convince the other person of our view. But If you have that same conversation as you’re walking, you’re moving in the same direction and are more likely to have a conversation and come to a resolution rather than battle the issue out. For this reason, he and his staff are on their feet most of the day, whether they’re in a meeting or not.
The Everybody Walk Initiative encourages participants to walk for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week – totaling 150 minutes a week. The research backing their campaign says it really doesn’t matter if we get 10,000 steps or 5,000 steps – it’s whether I’m getting that 150 minutes each week.
Studies are showing that 150-minutes of walking per week is the amount of exercise you need to start seeing health benefits and disease risk reductions. Baxter says you get a half reduction in your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes at the 150-minute mark. But you can’t just putter along when you’re walking – you need to walk at a pace that gets your heart rate up – you should be able to talk but be too out of breath to sing.
Employers like Kaiser Permanente are starting to encourage their staff to get on their feet and get moving regularly. Here at Diets in Review we think that’s a great idea, and are even running as a team in the Tulsa Color Run this June. Running the race is not only beneficial for our health, but also a great outside-of-the-office bonding activity. I’m very much looking forward to it and find it refreshing that my company cares about my health.
We hope to see others companies follow Kaiser’s lead and encourage their employees to be active and responsible about their health. After all, it truly benefits all parties involved.