What if I told you that to burn off the calories in one plain M&M candy you would need to walk the distance of a football field. Would you still want to eat a handful?

How about a Snickers bar? You would have to walk 54 football fields to burn off that snack.

A slice of pizza? Start walking 80 football fields to burn off the calories.

It’s sobering to think about and a reminder that we need to pay attention to the foods that we use to fuel our bodies.

Walking can help.

Walking is something that a majority of us can do at any age.

You can go as fast or as slow as you want, and it is free. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.

You can walk outdoors when the weather cooperates. When it doesn’t, you can walk at work, in a mall, on a treadmill or around your home.

You can walk alone and use the time to work on your mindfulness: Focus on the things you are grateful for, enjoy the scenery or listen to your favorite music or podcast.

Do you have coffee scheduled with a friend or a meeting with a coworker? Lace up your walking shoes, grab your coffee and head out on a walk with them.

Working a walk into your daily family activities will help burn off calories and can help the kiddos release some extra energy, too!

Walking has a myriad of health benefits, according to experts.

It helps your heart and lungs get stronger, helps lower blood pressure and increases bone and muscle strength. Walking can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and sleep better.

It can prevent or manage health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis and lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s. Walking helps improve your balance and coordination, improves circulation and increases oxygen flow to your brain, which helps with memory and cognitive function. Walking also can ease stress and boost your mood.

So the next time you reach for a soda, remember you will have to walk 10,000 steps or 70 football fields to burn it off. Go for a walk instead.

Lori Thomas is the wellness coordinator at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska.  She is a mother of four and was named one of the Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals in the nation by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA).

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