Carlinville, lll. - Beautiful spring weather means more opportunities to be outside and active! One of the most accessible forms of exercise is walking. University of Illinois Extension is encouraging community members to take advantage of the path around Carlinville Plaza and check out their new informational signs as you walk. “Walking the Plaza is an easy way to be active while checking out the local businesses and learning some health tips from our new signs,” Lisa Peterson, nutrition and wellness educator with University of Illinois Extension, explains. These colorful signs have nutrition and physical activity tips and fun challenges the whole family will enjoy! After walking the Plaza, visit go.illinois.edu/walkcjmm and be entered to win a monthly prize.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week or 30 minutes per day, but what are some of the benefits of taking a daily stroll? First, moving the body can help relieve stress and improve mood. “Having a stressful day? Try a ten-minute walk over lunch at the Plaza, and even in just those ten minutes, the body produces hormones which can help alleviate stress and turn your day around,” Peterson suggests. Other immediate benefits from exercise include lower blood pressure and better sleep quality.

Walking can be an energy booster. A small research study published by the University of Georgia found just 20 minutes of walking can reduce tiredness by 65% and has similar effects to a cup of tea or a shot of espresso. Before reaching for another energy drink or cup of tea, try going for a short walk. Thirdly, walking supports joints, muscles and can stop or reduce the rate of bone and muscle loss.

Being active also improves concentration, reduces body fat, and research from Stanford University found walking increases creativity. Last but not least, walking reduces the risk of falls, developing osteoporosis, dementia, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Find a walking buddy, put walking in your calendar just like a doctor’s appointment, or make it a fun family walk in the evenings after supper.

Dress to walk! Wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes that properly fit. Additionally, warm up for a walk and cool down with stretching. Don’t forget a water bottle to help stay hydrated before, during, and after a walk. The “Pace the Plaza” signs will be up at the Plaza throughout the summer. Bring a friend, walk with family and pets, listen to some music, and walk the Carlinville Plaza for better health! For questions about Pace the Plaza, feel free to contact Lisa Peterson, nutrition and wellness educator for Macoupin County or call the Extension office at 217-854-9604.

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.