While Ohioans are asked to stay home these days, health experts say that doesn't mean staying put. April is Move More Month, which encourages people to create a daily walking routine that can put them on the road to good health.
Dr. Michael Bess, vice president for health care strategies at UnitedHealthcare in Columbus, said walking supports physical and emotional well-being, which especially is important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We still support CDC guidelines," he said, "and one of the things that we recommend is walking with your immediate family, or if you're walking with friends, make sure you maintain at least six feet distance as you're walking."
Bess said walking can help boost the immune system, strengthen bones, ward off depression and help manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
For cardiovascular fitness, he recommended aiming for at least one brisk walk of at least 2,000 to 3,000 steps within 30 minutes each day. To build endurance, he said, the goal should be a total of 10,000 aggregate steps daily. If that seems too overwhelming, Bess suggested taking several short walks each day of at least 300 steps.
"Just start small and dream big," he said. "So setting targets that are slow and build over time is another way for those with chronic disease to get to the condition where they're walking those 10,000 steps a day."
Bess said having a motivating factor can make it easier to stick to a walking plan, such as wanting to maintain a healthy weight or improve your mood.
"If you need some external motivation," he said, "people should check with their employer about incentive-based wellness programs, including ones that provide financial rewards for meeting certain daily walking goals."
Ohioans also can sign a pledge to walk more and possibly win a prize by entering UnitedHealthcare's Step Up for Better Health Sweepstakes. More information is available online at UHCwalkingmaps.com, including 10,000-step walking routes for more than 50 cities.