Walk your Way to Wellness

By Andy Cook

Whether you’re a walker, jogger, runner, or cyclist, we all know it can be hard to sustain your motivation to keep on going, especially as we move into the time of year where daylight gets shorter and our schedules seem busier. Excuses practically come out of the woodwork, and distractions are plentiful.

Here are nine  tips—to help you “walk your way to wellness” in the Lehigh Valley:*

1. Take advantage of beautiful places to walk. Downtown Bethlehem has historic buildings, lovely small shops, and many places to dine. If you walk along Main Street, Church Street and the area around the Central Moravian Church, you’ll see many buildings identified with markers indicating who lived there, and the historical significance. It’s an opportunity to “learn as you burn”–some calories, that is.

2. If you have an interest in architecture or landscape design, or are just looking for ideas to bring back to your own home, drive to a neighborhood whose homes pique your interest,  park your car, and take a walk. Inspiration comes from a variety of areas, and you never know what you may find.  Be sure to have your cell phone or camera handy to capture a garden design, paint scheme, or perhaps a home for sale that you want to inquire about.

3. “Track your progress,” suggests Dr. Joseph Cesanek, a physician on staff at Easton Hospital.  Cesanek also suggests getting your doctor involved for encouragement. He helps his patients by reinforcing their positive achievements, even if their weight loss isn’t as much as they are hoping for. “Go slow when you start, and then add on time or distance. It’s better to walk one mile three times a week, versus three miles once a week.”  He adds that you shouldn’t forget about proper warm-up and stretching, and don’t forget to keep hydrated.

4. The Louise Moore Park in Easton is a 125-acre park which has more than five miles of trails, including a ½-mile trail through a woodland setting of mature oak trees. Plus you are close to the Delaware River, which also has walking and bike paths along the river and canal as you head south on Route 611. Having the Delaware River so close by can provide a relaxing backdrop as you exercise.

5. The Bob Rodale Cycling and Fitness Park in Trexlertown isn’t just for cyclists. This 100-acre Lehigh County park (part of the complex that includes the Valley Preferred Cycling Center) has a 1.3-mile long, 24-foot wide asphalt track with a 0.6-mile inner flat loop and a .75-mile inner hill loop perfect for  jogging. There is also a 1-mile multipurpose trail through scenic woodlands and open fields.

6. Fans of The Bridges of Madison County may want to consider the Trexler Nature Preserve Environmental Center located in Schnecksville. The Center includes a 1.2- mile trail walk on an ADA-approved covered bridge trail along Jordan Creek, including the historic 1860 Geiger’s Covered Bridge.

7. If you are over 50 you may want to explore LifeTrails. LifeTrails stations are located throughout the Allentown Rose Garden Park. These fitness stations were developed in conjunction with experts to provide a comprehensive fitness program for active older adults. Of course, these stations are in a public area, so anyone (regardless of age) can benefit.

8. Perhaps you’re interested in a women’s walking/running group. If so, the Lehigh Valley has one, and it’s called First Strides. Its mission is to “comfortably progress from the couch to walking, jogging or running at a pace that’s right for you” and is suggested for  women from ages “12 to 112.” First Strides is offered at the Bethlehem Township Community Center as well as on Sand Island (Bethlehem) and in Allentown, and the Poconos.

9. Dr. Mark Wendling, a family medicine physician with Lehigh Valley Health Network, says that “fitness, specifically walking, is good for everyone, once they have consulted with their primary care physician.” He adds that “keeping motivated is about setting reasonable goals and expectations first. If you strive for a goal initially, which is too big of a reach, and you do not achieve it, it is human nature to become disenchanted and frustrated. Thus, begin with an achievable goal first, and then adjust the goals as you achieve them.” His final tip is to incorporate variety. “Anything will become somewhat stale and monotonous if you do it the same all the time.  Hence, you want to vary your pace, your walking routes, and perhaps, walk with others to keep things fun.”

* Consult your doctor before starting any type of fitness program, especially if you have medical issues.

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