By Kaamil Ahmed
Red-faced and with his hair still wet, Hani Abu Amirah's grandson sobbed as he shuffled over to where she sat, looking out on the Mediterranean Sea from Gaza's Shati refugee camp.
The boy's distress stemmed from his decision to go swimming a little earlier that morning, one that incurred his father's wrath when he was yanked out of the water and beaten for disobeying orders to stay away from the sea. A year ago, that childlike act of enjoyment would have gone unnoticed but today 80 percent of Gaza's Mediterranean Sea coastline is thought to be polluted and families who used to rely on it for livelihoods and leisure now fear its waters.
"The sea is a part of us, the sea is our life," said Abu Amirah, 56, who still spends her days sitting by the beach with her grandchildren—even if she struggles to find the same pleasure she once did. "But the pollution affects us now, [the smell of sewage means] we cannot even sit here properly anymore … we banned the children from going down there."
Hani Abu Amirah, 56, watches the Mediterranean Sea with her grandchildren from outside her home in Gaza's Shati refugee camp. Kaamil Ahmed / Mongabay
Through three wars and a decade of blockade by Israel and Egypt, the Mediterranean has given an escape to 2 million Gazans living in the Palestinian enclave lodged between southern Israel, Egypt and the sea. Families would bathe in its waters to escape sticky summer days, then line the seafront with coffee and stove-roasted corn by night.
Many now worry they have lost even that, especially over the past year during which an acute electricity crisis has caused 110 million liters (110, 000 cubic meters) of raw or poorly treated sewage to gush into the sea daily, according to the UN. The newest figures are almost one year old.
From her customary position outside the family home, Abu Amirah waves her hand out toward the brown scum seeping out from Gaza's coastline that now dominates her view because of the 17 wastewater pipes that empty straight into it from various points along the 25 mile (40 kilometer) shore. The blue waters they have replaced over the past year are now only noticeable as she points to the unpolluted waters further out, sitting on the horizon beyond Gaza's coast.
Gaza's problems with water have been a recurring theme since Israel imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the coastal enclave in 2007 to squeeze the government set up by Hamas, a group Israel has been tangled in conflict with since the early 2000s, when it carried out dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. With nowhere else to turn in a water-scarce region, Gaza has been drawing much of its water from the sea but also expels effluent into the same source. While Israel has met its water needs with desalinated water, building the world's largest reverse osmosis plant only 30 miles north of Gaza, similar facilities in Gaza lack the electricity to run at full capacity.
The Gaza Valley was once a nature reserve, known for hosting migratory birds, but has been destroyed by waste dumped there in recent years. Kaamil Ahmed / Mongabay
Its power problems became critical last March when an internal dispute between Gaza's ruling leadership, Hamas, and the rival West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) left fuel duties unpaid, forcing the only local power plant's closure and leaving Gaza with such little electricity that pumps used to funnel sewage to cleansing plants could no longer function. The wastewater instead headed straight to the sea, where pollution levels have reached four times the international standard. It has caused alarm in Israel as well, where beaches close to the enclave have been shut down because of the spreading pollution. The most recent figures are about six months old.
With 2 million people living in their coastal territory, Gaza's population is almost as tightly packed as notoriously cramped Hong Kong, putting pressure on everything from the aquifer most draw their water from to the electricity needed to power factories, sewage cleansing facilities and desalination plants.
Though the ongoing electricity crisis has exacerbated those pressures, they have been consistent sources of concern since Hamas took control of Gaza. A 2017 report by the UN predicted the damage done to Gaza's aquifer, its only water source, will be irreversible by 2018—sooner than previous estimations.
Much of that population lives in places like the Shati refugee camp, founded to house an influx of Palestinians displaced from nearby villages during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. At Shati, the industrial pipe spewing into the sea also carries medical waste from Gaza's main hospital, al-Shifa. Residents said their children have complained of itchiness after going swimming and that even the sand smells strongly of sewage. Their fears deepened after five year-old Mohammad al-Sayis died in July 2017 from a form of shigellosis—a disease spread through fecal matter.
Parasites, including many that affect humans, were found in almost half the samples collected for a 2014 study into the quality of water on Gaza's coast led by Ahmed Hillis, an expert with the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority.
"It's a perfect indicator that the shoreline has been polluted by the wastewater," said Hillis, who believes his study shows there is a strong link between the damage being done to the environment and health risks for Gazans.
Palestinian fishermen prepare their nets in Gaza's port before going out to sea. Kaamil Ahmed / Mongabay
According to the World Health Organization, water-related diseases are the main cause of child deaths in Gaza and estimated to account for a quarter of all illnesses.
"This water is a source of pollution and a source of diseases, for the people and also for the environment," Hillis said. "Visitors to the sea suffer from a lot of illnesses related to the skin because of the direct contact from swimming in this polluted water."
All along Gaza's coast, there are pipes expelling wastewater from the towns and refugee camps where most of the population are concentrated. That pollution diffuses outwards over the first six nautical miles, according to Mohammed Abu Thaer, a marine biologist in the Hamas government's agriculture department—the same distance Israel's navy has limited Gaza's fishermen to since the blockade, despite the 1990s Oslo Peace Accords signed by Israeli and Palestinian leaders which allowed them to travel up to 20 nautical miles.
Thaer said most of the fish sold in Gaza's market is safe, however, because after the first three miles, most catches are of deepwater fish that live well below the sea's surface, where the floating film of effluent becomes diluted.
A Palestinian man transports building supplies through Gaza's Shati refugee camp with a horse and cart. Kaamil Ahmed / Mongabay
He also claimed his department has tested the fish as safe by taking samples of incoming hauls but much of Gaza's population still seem worried about eating the fish, crabs and shrimp their cuisine is known for among Palestinians, according to the fishermen themselves who are anxious about how few people now pass through Gaza's almost deserted fish market. They have already struggled for years with catches diminished because of the Israeli restrictions on where they can fish. Now they have to contend with local concerns over their stock.
"We try to persuade people but they are still too scared to eat fish because of what they hear, not what they see here," said Muhammad Mustafa Abu Khair, 32, who insists he fishes in unpolluted waters.
The gloomy wet market's stock is sparse—small presentations of local sea bream (Sparidae), buckets of crabs (Brachyura) and the odd baby shark (Selachimorph)—but Abu Khair is adamant if customers visited, they would see it is all healthy. The problem is that hardly anyone passes through anymore apart from fishermen who sit in circles on its edges, drinking Arabic coffee from paper cups.
A 2016 study led by Palestinian Environment Quality Authority researcher Hossam Zaqoot found traces of heavy metals like copper and lead were found in the muscles of fish caught near Gaza's coast, and warned that though they were not yet at levels dangerous to humans, they could be in the future if continued rises in pollution further poisoned the fish. The more immediate impact of the pollution, said Abu Thaer, has been in reducing the fish stocks off Gaza's coast.
"The wastewater consists of a lot of dangerous materials like chlorine, ammonia and soap. This affects the fish itself—their growth is slowed and their stock doesn't increase," he said.
Some of the fishermen believe that problem has been made worse by overfishing. The blockade prevents Gaza's ever-growing population from traveling abroad for work while also hindering its own industry. By September 2017, the unemployment rate had soared to 44 percent as factories closed down because of the electricity crisis.
Retired fisherman Khaled Rajab Abu Riyal, 50, said he avoided the sea for nine years because of a liver disease he blames on the pollution he had to wade through as a fisherman. Kaamil Ahmed / Mongabay
For many of the jobless, the sea seems an obvious place to search for an income with a boat and some nets. But fisherman Hani Abu Riyal accuses unlicensed fishermen of putting a strain on the industry by crowding out professionals and using fine nets that pick up even the smallest fish.
"What ended the jobs here is the government itself because there are no jobs. Everyone can be a fisherman," said Abu Riyal, who himself returned to the family tradition of fishing after the blockade meant he could no longer travel to nearby Israeli towns where he had worked as a weaver.
"They fish everything, even the young fish during the breeding season," he said, noting the weak governance in Gaza, which has been fractured since PA officials boycotted the Hamas leadership after it seized control of the territory in 2007. "In another country, there would be a system to stop this."
Environmental expert Hillis said Gaza's water problem is not just limited to the sea; its aquifer, shared with Israel, is also being polluted.
A refuse pipe spews untreated wastewater into the sea, a problem that has increased since Gaza's electricity shortage worsened in 2017. Kaamil Ahmed / Mongabay
Just south of the built-up and congested Gaza City, Bedouin fishermen of Gaza Valley live a much quieter life, preparing their nets in corrugated iron beach huts and digging through the shallows for worms they use as bait. Their isolation is interrupted, however, by the imposing stench from a refuse pipe that reaches hundreds of meters away.
Starting in the West Bank and winding through southern Israel's Negev desert before it arrives in Gaza, the 65 mile-long valley was once a valued ecological site that hosted migratory birds, like flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) and Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus), and was declared a nature reserve in 2000 by the PA. But instead of being protected, the previous wetland has become a wasteland used by local municipalities to dump both liquid and solid waste from nearby towns.
A local Bedouin fisherman said their protests against installing wastewater pipes at the site were ignored, but he and the other fishermen all refuse to say anything more.
According to Hillis, Gaza receives only half of the 7.7 billion cubic feet of rain its aquifer requires a year, even less of which recharges the groundwater, allowing salt water to intrude. It also means there's space for leachate, a liquid produced by dissolving waste in landfill sites, and cesspools used to store sewage to seep through Gaza's porous sedimentary rock in places like the Gaza Valley.
Dealing With It
Concern about pollution and the wider electricity crisis has spread to the Israeli sphere, not only because of the physical impact made by intruding pollution but also as Israeli politicians and the military worry that deteriorating conditions increase the chance of another conflict. They accuse Hamas of causing the crisis by allegedly spending money on building its military capacity instead of on the population.
"Israel has an interest in positive dynamics in Gaza, but one cannot demand from the State of Israel to use its state budget for infrastructure that is harmed because of an internal Palestinian conflict, while Hamas invests money in terrorism," Israeli military chief Gadi Eisenkot told the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in July 2017.
A Palestinian fishermen prepares his nets in Gaza's port before going out to sea. Kaamil Ahmed / Mongabay
Israel did agree in late January, however, to begin supplying electricity to a sewage cleansing plant in northern Gaza. The move followed recommendations made in a state review that criticized the military for refusing to provide a power line to the plant when it was built in 2013.
For Hillis, Gaza's environmental challenges cannot be separated from the blockade, which increases the overpopulated enclave's dependence on whatever resources are available to it. He highlights that more than 3,000 items needed to develop Gaza's water and sanitation sector await Israeli approval to enter the strip because of restrictions on "dual-use items," which Israel claims could also be used to build weapons to be used against it.
"Life in Gaza has become more and more complicated by these issues and we need quick solutions for our problems and the environment is the most important," said Hillis. "All of the international community is responsible."
Kaamil Ahmed is a foreign correspondent who has reported on conflicts, labor and the environment in South Asia and the Middle East.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the strengths and limitations of globalization. The crisis has made people aware of how industrialized food production can be, and just how far food can travel to get to the local supermarket. There are many benefits to this system, including low prices for consumers and larger, even global, markets for producers. But there are also costs — to the environment, workers, small farmers and to a region or individual nation's food security.
- UN: Acute Food Shortages Worldwide May Double Due to COVID-19 ›
- The Climate Crisis Is 'a Perfect Storm' Headed for the World's Food ... ›
By Joe Leech
The human body comprises around 60% water.
It's commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).
1. Helps Maximize Physical Performance<p>If you don't stay hydrated, your physical performance can suffer.</p><p>This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat.</p><p>Dehydration can have <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-tell-if-youre-dehydrated" target="_blank">a noticeable effect</a> if you lose as little as 2% of your body's water content. However, it isn't uncommon for athletes to lose as much as 6–10% of their water weight via sweat.</p><p>This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, and increased fatigue. It can also make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.</p><p>Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and it may even reduce the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress" target="_blank">oxidative stress</a> that occurs during high intensity exercise. This isn't surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80% water.<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19344695" target="_blank"><span></span></a></p><p>If you exercise intensely and tend to sweat, staying hydrated can help you perform at your absolute best.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Losing as little as 2% of your body's water content can significantly impair your physical performance.</p>
2. Significantly Affects Energy Levels and Brain Function<p>Your brain is strongly influenced by your hydration status.</p><p>Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function.</p><p>In a study in young women, researchers found that fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration. It also increased the frequency of headaches.</p><p>Many members of this same research team conducted a similar study in young men. They found that fluid loss of 1.6% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.<a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/mild-dehydration-impairs-cognitive-performance-and-mood-of-men/3388AB36B8DF73E844C9AD19271A75BF/core-reader" target="_blank"></a></p><p>A fluid loss of 1–3% equals about 1.5–4.5 pounds (0.5–2 kg) of body weight loss for a person weighing 150 pounds (68 kg). This can easily occur through normal daily activities, let alone during exercise or high heat.</p><p>Many other studies, with subjects ranging from <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/signs-of-dehydration-in-toddlers" target="_blank">children</a> to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/symptoms-of-dehydration-in-elderly" target="_blank">older adults</a>, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1–3%) can impair energy levels, impair mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.</p>
3. May Help Prevent and Treat Headaches<p>Dehydration can trigger <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/dehydration-headache" target="_blank">headaches</a> and migraine in some individuals.<span></span></p><p>Research has shown that a headache is one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. For example, a study in 393 people found that 40% of the participants experienced a headache as a result of dehydration.</p><p>What's more, some studies have shown that drinking water can help relieve headaches in those who experience frequent headaches.</p><p>A study in 102 men found that drinking an additional 50.7 ounces (1.5 liters) of water per day resulted in significant improvements on the Migraine-Specific Quality of Life scale, a scoring system for <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/migraine-symptoms" target="_blank">migraine symptoms</a>.<a href="https://academic.oup.com/fampra/article/29/4/370/492787" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Plus, 47% of the men who drank more water reported headache improvement, while only 25% of the men in the control group reported this effect.<a href="https://academic.oup.com/fampra/article/29/4/370/492787" target="_blank"></a></p><p>However, not all studies agree, and researchers have concluded that because of the lack of high quality studies, more research is needed to confirm how increasing hydration may help improve headache symptoms and decrease headache frequency.<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26200171" target="_blank"></a></p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Drinking water may help reduce headaches and headache symptoms. However, more high quality research is needed to confirm this potential benefit.</p>
4. May Help Relieve Constipation<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/constipation" target="_blank">Constipation</a> is a common problem that's characterized by infrequent bowel movements and difficulty passing stool.</p><p>Increasing fluid intake is often recommended as a part of the treatment protocol, and there's some evidence to back this up.</p><p>Low water consumption appears to be a risk factor for constipation in both younger and older individuals.</p><p>Increasing hydration may help decrease constipation.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mineral-water-benefits" target="_blank">Mineral water</a> may be a particularly beneficial beverage for those with constipation.</p><p>Studies have shown that mineral water that's rich in magnesium and sodium improves bowel movement frequency and consistency in people with constipation.<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5334415" target="_blank"></a></p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Drinking plenty of water may help prevent and relieve constipation, especially in people who generally don't drink enough water.</p>
5. May Help Treat Kidney Stones<p>Urinary stones are painful clumps of mineral crystal that form in the urinary system.</p><p>The most common form is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-stones" target="_blank">kidney stones</a>, which form in the kidneys.</p><p>There's limited evidence that water intake can help prevent recurrence in people who have previously gotten kidney stones.<a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004292.pub3/full" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Higher fluid intake increases the volume of urine passing through the kidneys. This dilutes the concentration of minerals, so they're less likely to crystallize and form clumps.</p><p>Water may also help prevent the initial formation of stones, but studies are required to confirm this.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Increased water intake appears to decrease the risk of kidney stone formation.</p>
6. Helps Prevent Hangovers<p>A hangover refers to the unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/alcohol-good-or-bad" target="_blank">alcohol</a>.</p><p>Alcohol is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in. This can lead to dehydration.</p><p>Although dehydration isn't the main cause of hangovers, it can cause symptoms like thirst, fatigue, headache, and dry mouth.</p><p>Good ways <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-ways-to-prevent-a-hangover" target="_blank">to reduce hangovers</a> are to drink a glass of water between drinks and have at least one big glass of water before going to bed.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Hangovers are partly caused by dehydration, and drinking water can help reduce some of the main symptoms of hangovers.</p>
7. Can Aid Weight Loss<p>Drinking plenty of water can help you <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-lose-weight-as-fast-as-possible/" target="_blank">lose weight</a>.</p><p>This is because water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate.</p><p>Some evidence suggests that increasing water intake can promote weight loss by slightly increasing your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis.</p><p>A 2013 study in 50 young women with overweight demonstrated that drinking an additional 16.9 ounces (500 mL) of water 3 times per day before meals for 8 weeks led to significant reductions in body weight and body fat compared with their pre-study measurements.</p><p>The timing is important too. Drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full so that you <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/35-ways-to-cut-calories" target="_blank">eat fewer calories</a>.</p><p>In one study, dieters who drank 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water before meals lost 44% more weight over a period of 12 weeks than dieters who didn't drink water before meals.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Even mild dehydration can affect you mentally and physically.</p><p>Make sure that you <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-water-should-you-drink-per-day" target="_blank">get enough water each day</a>, whether your personal goal is 64 ounces (1.9 liters) or a different amount. It's one of the best things you can do for your overall health.</p>
- 9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Avocado Oil ›
- 7 Nutrient Deficiencies That Are Incredibly Common ›
By Michael Svoboda
The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.
Watchdog Accuses Trump's NOAA of 'Choosing Extinction' for Right Whales by Hiding Scientific Evidence
By Julia Conley
As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.
- Lemurs and Northern Right Whales Near Brink of Extinction ... ›
- Trump Administration Approves Harmful Seismic Blasting in Atlantic ... ›
By Beth Ann Mayer
Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
- Should I Exercise During the Coronavirus Pandemic? Experts ... ›
- If Meditation Is Not Your Thing, Try a Walk in the Woods - EcoWatch ›
In Major Win for Indigenous Rights, Supreme Court Rules Much of Eastern Oklahoma Is Still a Reservation
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
- Federal Judge Orders Trump Admin to Give Native Americans Their ... ›
- Police Were Ready to Shoot Indigenous Pipeline Protesters in ... ›
- Climate Justice, Indigenous Rights Advocates Rally for Wet'suwet'en ... ›
By Tiffany Means
Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.