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How Will You Mark National Walking Day?

How Will You Mark National Walking Day?

Lace up your walking shoes and get ready, for tomorrow is National Walking Day. The American Heart Association (AHA) initiated National Walking Day to counteract increasing physical inactivity in the U.S., which doubles the risk of heart disease.

National Walking Day, always the first Wednesday each April, is a way to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and to encourage a healthier lifestyle. Americans are encouraged to take at least 30 minutes out of the day to get up and walk.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Why walk? Research shows that walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day can help you:

According to the AHA, of the numerous ways to be physically active, walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that walking is the most popular aerobic physical activity. More than 145 million adults include walking as part of an active lifestyle and 6 in 10 people walk for transportation or for fun, relaxation or exercise, according to the CDC.

Besides increasing physical health, walking offers benefits to the environment, such as decreasing fossil fuel use and vehicle emissions. And of course walking can offer a chance to enjoy nature and the natural environment, from birdsong to wild flowers, depending on one's path.

If you want to make walking a routine part of your life beyond National Walking Day, visit the AHA walking center for tips on pre-walking stretches, wearing the right shoes, preventing injuries and more. Visit Every Body Walk!, the campaign to get America walking, for expert tips and feedback on walking for health and inspiration.

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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