Those who are regular walkers (or runners) have an opportunity to take steps for a good cause on Saturday, May 19, in the second annual Veterans and First Responders 5K run/walk and Memorial Mile run/walk.
Splendido, an all-inclusive community for those 55 and better in Tucson, is the title sponsor of this 5K—a fitting sponsorship, as the community is home to many veterans and is invested in opportunities for wellness.
Walk for Your Brain
Todd Lutz, Get Fit coordinator at Splendido, says, “Walking is good for your brain, as well as your body. Through simple exercise such as walking, your body begins to release proteins and chemicals which can help lower stress levels and have positive benefits on memory.”
When you begin to exercise, your brain recognizes exercise as stress, and begins to release chemicals in order to protect your body from that “stress.” Pressure builds in the heart, which then causes the body to release a protein that protects and repairs the memory neurons in the brain. This essentially “resets” the brain, thus creating the sense of ease, and providing a sense of mental clarity after exercise.
Another benefit of walking is the release of endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are chemicals released in the brain that minimize any physical discomfort, blocking the feeling of pain and causing a natural “feel good” rush.
Walk for Your Body
Walking can also help reduce risk of stroke. In fact, research found that moderate exercise such as brisk walking also helps offset the increased risk of stroke with postmenopausal women.
Incorporating a simple walk into daily activities can help keep older adults physically strong and agile, which means real benefits, such as maintaining mobility and independence.
New York Times health columnist Gretchen Reynolds put it best: “One of the biggest misconceptions is that exercise has to be hard. That exercise means marathon running or riding your bike for three hours, or doing something really strenuous. But humans were born to stroll.”
John Cook, a Splendido resident and long-time walker, is well aware of these benefits, and says that maintaining his health was one of the reasons he started walking regularly. Cook leads a walking group there on a 45-minute stroll three days a week. “The anticipation of a walk starts me smiling,” he says.
Take the First Step
A walking club or partner can make all the difference in success by helping you stay motivated and improving accountability. “Find a friend or neighbor who shares your interest in getting healthy, and get moving,” suggests Lutz. “Whether you’re indoors on a treadmill, at a shopping mall when the weather’s too hot, or outdoors and enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and scenery, walking is something everyone can do, at their own pace.”
Getting started can be as easy as getting motivated, and what better place to do that than right here in your own backyard. “If people aren’t quite ready to make the leap and walk the Veterans 5K this year, then they can come be a part of the action by volunteering or just cheering on the participants,” says Lutz.
The important thing to remember is, it’s never too late to begin exercising. “As with any exercise plan, talking to your doctor is a great place to start. But almost anyone can walk, and nearly everyone should!” says Lutz.
Walk for a Good Cause
Ready to step up and walk (or run) a 5K? You can still sign up for the Second Annual Veterans and First Responders 5k run/walk and Memorial Mile run/walk. Held on Saturday, May 19, the event will raise funds for the Southern Arizona Veterans and First Responders Living Memorial at Naranja Park. This memorial will provide a place where people can go to reflect and to honor family members and members of the community who served. The 5K will take place near the site of the memorial, so participants can see where the monument will be, as well as admire the beautiful view of the Catalina Mountains.
Splendido is the title sponsor of this event, and a team of Splendido residents and staff will be participating.
Registration for the 5K, the Memorial Mile, and a free Kids’ Fun Run is open until 9:00 p.m. the night before the event. The park is open to the public for this event, and spectators are welcome.
You can register for the 5K and Memorial Mile and find more details online at https://runsignup.com/Race/AZ/Tucson/VFR5K.