KEYS TO WALKING MORE
- Wear a step-counter to motivate you. Try to take 10,000 steps a day. Track your steps using a pedometer.
- If you have diabetes and you start or even increase your exercise program, remember to speak to your health care provider first. Exercise usually lowers blood glucose.
- Check your blood glucose often, and check your blood pressure as well.
- Always carry something with you to prevent or treat low blood glucose, such as glucose tablets or glucose gel.
- Wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet.
- Wear identification.
- Exercise with a partner.
- Have a good time.
Turn on the TV or the radio, open the newspaper or a magazine and you're sure to hear news about the growing obesity and diabetes epidemic. Most of us already know—and the research confirms—the cause of this growing problem: We eat too much and move too little. What many of us don't know is that our communities may be partly to blame. In many areas, cities and towns are built more for cars than for people. Experts and concerned citizens are beginning to realize how this affects our health. One example of this is the growing epidemic of overweight children with type 2 diabetes, which is partly a result of the fact that very few children walk or ride bikes to school anymore.
You may wonder if your community is adding to this public health problem. Cities that are more compact are considered “healthier ” than those that have experienced more “suburban sprawl. ” Those who live in suburbs drive more than those who live in cities, where walking or taking public transportation is the norm. A telltale sign of sprawl is the lack of choices people have about transportation. Some suburban moms become like cab drivers, and others find they must spend increasing amounts of time in the car just to meet their daily needs.
But this growing problem of people moving less is not all about sprawl. It's also about safety. People must feel safe to go out and walk: safe from being hit by an oncoming car and safe from crime. This means a need for more sidewalks, better lighting, more police involvement and even more personal and family involvement. We also need to motivate ourselves to become more active. So, when it is possible, walk instead of getting in the car—even though your car might be the easier option. Today, some new towns and communities are being planned with these “ walkable ” principles in mind. Does this mean you have to move to another neighborhood if you want to walk more? No. There are things you can do to make your community more walkable. Since a community is a group of people with common interests, get involved and recruit others to join you.
MAKE YOUR COMMUNITY MORE WALKABLE
- Talk with people about the benefits of walking.
- Set a time and place for you and other interested people to meet and walk. This can be at someone's house, an apartment building, community center, mall, large store—anywhere you choose.
- Get involved in your community by attending city council meetings. Speak up for the need for safe sidewalks, more lighting, more public transportation and more police patrol.