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Julie Funk, MS, RD, CDE, LDN
Director, Community Health and Wellness Services at Chester County Hospital

Walking to Health

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. If you're looking to shed a few pounds, maintain your weight, or just find new ways to enjoy the outdoors, the solution may be as close as your phone. A new smartphone app called the Brandywine Creek Greenway App can be downloaded to your phone and give you information for over 100 public parks and private non-profit preserves open to the public for all the things you love to do.

The Brandywine Creek Greenway is a regional planning initiative that connects 25 municipalities in Chester and Delaware counties along both branches of the Brandywine to create a 30-mile conservation and recreation corridor. It stretches from the Delaware state line just south of Chadds Ford to the Pennsylvania Highlands Mega-Greenway near Honey Brook. Goals of the Greenway include protecting scenic, historic, and natural resources; educating communities about the Brandywine and its resources; and promoting recreational resources. The Brandywine Creek Greenway Mobile app is one way to achieve this last goal.

The activities to be found through this app are endless from biking to birding to trail hiking, plus fishing, boating, and more. Your smartphone’s GPS technology will locate the closest parks and preserves to your current location. Each location includes a brief description, a scrollable photo gallery, GPS-enabled directions, tips and more. To get started, go to the app store and look for Brandywine Creek Greenway.

If you need additional motivation to get moving, consider the many benefits of walking. Few other lifestyle changes have the impact on health the way that walking does. To name a few, walking burns calories and helps to lose or maintain weight. This, and the fact it lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, make it a powerhouse way to reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. If that isn’t enough, walking improves mood and is an excellent way to manage the stresses of daily life. Use this time as a moment to meditate, listen to music, or just enjoy the quiet time to yourself.

Be sure to choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel, and thick but flexible soles to absorb shock. It is not how much a pair of shoes cost, it is about how they fit and feel on your feet. They shouldn’t rub anywhere and should feel very comfortable and supportive. If you are new to a walking routine, start slowly and work up gradually to a goal of at least 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes five days a week. As long as you can tolerate walking without any discomfort, more can be even better! Your next goal might be to work towards 10,000 steps a day (10K a day), which is 5 miles worth of steps. Using your phone, a pedometer, or fitness tracker can help you to track your steps. This goal is achieved by a combination of your intentional walking for physical activity and walking during daily activities such as walking around the office or neighborhood. That is the ultimate number of daily steps that leads to optimal health.

So lace up your shoes, download the app and step out for good health!

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