Anna Duggar just proved it's never too late to make resolutions to get healthier. The Counting On star recently revealed on her Instagram that while she previously "used the 'busy mom' excuse," watching her friends and family make progress on their New Year's goals inspired her to make some changes of her own
The 21-year-old TLC veteran decided to walk 50 miles in February - about two miles per day with some days off - and invited her Instagram followers to join her in the #February50 Challenge.
Here's a photo of Anna from January:
Here's a snapshot after she completed February's challenge:
Her social media fans say they have already noticed a difference - both in Anna and themselves.
"She has toned up with all that walking!! Looking great!" one person commented on that recent picture of her.
"I was inspired by you and joined February50," another said on her post. "Me and a friend surpassed the 50! We feel great and are looking better. Going to challenge ourselves again for March. Thanks!!"
Fast forward to March, and Anna not only beat her original goal by 5 miles, but she's now hoping to go another 50 miles this month, a.k.a. #March50.
Walking for fitness can really help your body in more ways than one, according to Robyn M. Stuhr, MA, ACSM-RCEP, a certified exercise physiologist and Vice President of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise Is Medicine® global health initiative.
Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week - the amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and multiple types of cancers, including breast, colon, bladder, lung, stomach, and kidney.
And if you've made a weight-loss goal, walking will help complement positive changes to your diet. "We know that if you do moderate-intensity exercise, which is a brisk walk, it helps prevent weight gain for adults and keep people in a healthy range," Stuhr says. "One of the biggest things it does is help keep weight off once you lost it."
This same moderate-intensity exercise can also shorten length of time it takes you to go to sleep, making it less likely you'll wake up in the night, and help you spend more time in deep sleep so you feel more alert during the day, not to mention a positive impact on your mood.
"We know that being physically active affects the body, but we're starting to learn its effect on the brain is really powerful," Stuhr says. "It can help prevent or reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and it can reduce people's risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. Even doing one bout of exercise improves your body's cognitive processes - how well and how fast you think."
Plus, all you need to start is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes. For someone just getting active, Stuhr recommends focusing on walking for small chunks of time versus trying to hit two miles out of the gate. It's easier on your joints and you can squeeze in a few minutes at lunch, after, work, and so on versus carving out a big block of time.
Begin with a 10-minute stretch and then tack five to 10 more minutes on after each week of walking, eventually working your way up to 30 minutes or more - and if you're up for it, the 50-mile challenge. A new month starts soon, so there's plenty of time to grab a buddy and lace up your shoes.
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