CONNECTING PEOPLE, NATURE AND OPPORTUNITY

WALKING FOR HEALTH


 

HOW WALKING HELPS BENEFIT STUDENTS

+  Improves cognitive function
+  Alleviates stress, depression and
    troubling behavior
+  Burns calories
+  Prevents Type 2 Diabetes
+  Boosts metabolism
+  Builds immunity and reduces
    absenteeism

+  Tones muscles
+  Increases cardio-respiratory fitness
+  Helps detox

+  Maintains high bone density

+  Improves sleep
+  Reduces pain


Walking is a simple heart-healthy activity teachers can creatively incorporate into instructional time. 
 
Fifteen minutes of class time spent walking around the school neighborhood allows teachers to engage students in open-ended conversations and brainstorming about subject matter and projects. This time allows students to improve their oral communication and social skills.

This same time can also afford teachers the opportunity to circulate and initiate individual 5-minute conversations with at least three students during each exercise session or provide the students with a short audio lesson to listen to while walking.

Meanwhile, the students become more comfortable with and more knowledgeable about their local surroundings. Outdoor time allows students to observe and study weather, plants, trees, insects, as well as bird, squirrel and human activity around the school area.

THE IMPORTANCE OF
PROPER POSTURE

 
When you posture is straight and your skeletal structure is evenly balanced and aligned, your weight is carried by your spine, pelvis, and leg bones, as well as your ligaments and tendons, rather than your muscles.  By engaging your core muscles around your stomach and lower back, you can pull your alignment upward, and remove unnecessary stress.
 
Muscle tension and stiffness develops when muscles are doing the work that your skeleton should be doing.  As muscles are freed up, they can stretch, relax, and more more fully.  Upright physical alignment gives your body more power and energy.  When you walk feeling strong, the sense of confidence that is instilled will pour over into the rest of your life.

EXTRA SENSORY PERCEPTION
 
Outdoor walking builds observa- tional skills, perceptiveness, and self awareness.  What better way is there for elementary aged students to learn anatomy? Begin at the bottom, with the feet, and move up from there.  
  
With over 100,000 nerve endings per foot, the soles of your feet are one of the most nerve-rich parts of your body. 
 
 

 
The feet, when bare, are the only part of your body that is in constant contact with your environment.  Flexible soft-soled shoes like Converse sneakers allow for a fuller range of motion and greater sensory feedback than stiff or hard-soled shoes. The tactile sensations from the soles of your feet provide a wealth of information to your brain about the ground upon which you tread. 
 
Students love to pair off in partners, one with eyes closed, and the other there to gently guide and prevent the blind one from twisting an ankle or running into a pole.  (This is also a simple trust-building exercise.)
 
Another fun experiment is to have blind-folded students try to describe or guess at small objects beneath their bare feet (ball, eraser, rubber band, piece of chalk, shell).  Let students try this first with shoes on and then without shoes. Let the students pick the objects for the experiment and try to trick one another.
 
Did you know that the foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and a network of more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments?
    
One quarter of all the bones in the human body are in your feet. When these bones are out of alignment, so is the rest of your body.  A teacher or club leader can invite a podiatrist, a reflexologist, and/or a personal trainer (like Ryan McGowan) to come walk with students, talk about what is happening with the feet, and pull up some anatomy diagrams on an ipod.  Let the students ask these professionals questions about their work.
 
The study of feet can lead through
online doorways opening into
fascinating scientific topics like grounding and reflexology, which combine anatomy and physics.

Feet.  The average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to about 115,000 miles over a lifetime. That's enough to go around the circumference of the earth four times.  How could we do this without feet?  How do feet make this possible? Read more fun foot facts.
 
To learn more about the benefits of walking barefoot, click here.
 
Burn more calories with interval training.  To learn more, click
here.

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