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March 2019

Tips to Help Make Walking More Fun and Effective

With spring’s arrival and the days getting warmer and longer, people in Texas can put on their shoes and experience the many health benefits of walking – which may be one of the simplest and best ways to exercise.

April is Move More Month, an annual celebration established by the American Heart Association to encourage people, schools, workplaces and communities to get out and walk for at least 30 minutes* and put themselves on the road to a healthier lifestyle.  

Studies have shown walking more and sitting less may help people maintain a healthier weight, ward off depression and prevent serious health issues like heart disease. And a report from Harvard Medical School concluded that walking can help curb sweet cravings, boost the immune system and ease joint pain.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help make walking more fun and effective during April and year-round:

Think FIT: While many people aim for achieving an aggregate number of total steps each day, research shows that moving frequently throughout the day and taking at least one brisk, 30-minute walk also can have health benefits. That’s why people should think FIT, which stands for frequency (500 steps within seven minutes six times per day), intensity (3,000 steps within 30 minutes each day) and tenacity (at least 10,000 total steps per day). If those targets seem daunting, remember it helps to start slowly and build up over time.  

Find Friends: Walking can also double as a chance to socialize with friends, family or co-workers. Plus, research shows there are several advantages to recruiting a workout friend, likely because that person can hold you accountable and offer support. And starting or joining a walking group at work or in your neighborhood can prove helpful, too. In fact, working out in a group lowers stress by 26 percent, compared to working out alone.

Walk with A Wearable: Recent studies show that people tend to overestimate how much they exercise and underestimate sedentary time. To help understand your actual activity patterns and, ideally, reinforce positive habits to support sustained change, consider using a wearable device. This increasingly popular technology has been shown to help people remain diligent in achieving those daily step goals, while encouraging seemingly small healthy habits – each day – that can eventually translate to meaningful improvements.    

Earn Incentives:  A majority of employers (86 percent) offer incentive-based wellness programs, including some that enable employees to earn more than $1,000 per year by meeting certain daily walking goals. Similarly, websites such as myachievement.com enable people to earn cash rewards for walking. Throughout April, people can go to uhcwalkingmaps.com, sign the pledge to walk more and become eligible for a chance to win one of more than 100 walking-related prizes, including a trip for two to hike the Grand Canyon or Apple Watch®. On behalf of the first 25,000 people to sign the pledge, UnitedHealthcare will donate a total of $25,000 to help reduce childhood obesity, including contributions to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

So, this Move More Month, consider these walking tips as you take a step toward better health.

 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Open to legal residents of 50 U.S. and D.C., 18 or older. To Enter: Visit www.UHCWalkingmaps.com (“Website”) between 12:01 AM CT on 3/28/19 and 11:59 PM CT on 4/30/19, follow online instructions, and agree to take the “Step Up for Better Health” Pledge to be healthier. Prizes: Grand (1): Travel voucher (maximum ARV $5,000); First (10): Apple Watch® (ARV $279); Second (100): $25 Foot Locker® gift card; Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received for each drawing. See Website for drawing dates, details, limitations & Official Rules. United HealthCare Services, Inc., Minnetonka, MN 55343.

Apple Watch is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc. Apple is not a participant or sponsor of this promotion.

UnitedHealthcare Alief Clinic Opens in Southwest Houston

UnitedHealthcare has opened a clinic in the heart of southwest Houston’s Alief neighborhood, providing UnitedHealthcare Community Plan Medicaid members in the area with a convenient place to go for medical and behavioral support.

Additionally, the UnitedHealthcare Alief Clinic offers over-the-phone services, including scheduling and a nurse-led helpline to address medical concerns and route patients to their best care options.

The clinic is the first of its kind for UnitedHealthcare. A second UnitedHealthcare clinic is slated to open later this spring in Tempe, Arizona.

The UnitedHealthcare Alief Clinic is located at 9380 West Sam Houston Parkway S. in Houston.

Is Binge-Watching Affecting Your Health?

With a wide variety of video streaming services available today, viewers can watch TV shows and movies whenever, wherever and for however long they want, which has led to an increase in binge-watching.

In a 2017 study of people 18 to 25 years old, more than 80 percent identified as binge-watchers.

Watching a full season of a show may seem like a fun way to spend your time, but did you know that binge-watching can affect your health? Here are four things to consider the next time you sit down to indulge in the latest episode of your favorite series:

  1. Difficulty Falling Asleep
    Researchers have found that binge-watching can cause “pre-sleep arousal.” That means physical and mental activity, like a pounding heart rate or intense thinking, may keep you awake. Your body and brain may require a cool-down period to process unfolding dramas, complex plots and complicated characters.
  1. Fatigue
    The difficulty in falling asleep after binge-watching may lead to fatigue the next day, the study suggests. According to the National Safety Council, the potential effects of fatigue include depression, obesity and decreased work and driving safety.
  1. Cardiovascular Disease
    Spending long periods in a sitting or reclining posture might be associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, according to the American Heart Association. Research has also linked too much sitting to an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancer, the Mayo Clinic said.
  1. Back Pain
    Sitting in fixed positions for prolonged periods can increase your risk of developing lower back pain, a study says.

Here are some healthier alternatives for catching up on the latest season of your favorite series.

  • Work out while you watch. The American Heart Association suggests walking or jogging on a treadmill, lifting weights or doing yoga while watching television.
  • Take a break. Consider pressing pause on binge sessions with 10-minute activities like walking or playing with a pet. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, of moderate-intensity physical activities such as brisk walking.
  • Use TV time to stretch. Stretching major muscle groups such as calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders can improve flexibility and your ability to fully move your joints, according to the Mayo Clinic. Warm up with moderate activity such as light walking first to help avoid injury.

Binge-watching every once in a while is probably not going to lead to long-term problems. As with most things, moderation is key.

Originally published in the UnitedHealthcare Newsroom.

Image: Stock Photo

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