For many of us, becoming more physically active is on our to-do list. Often times, we put off being more physically active because we think we need a gym membership or tons of time to dedicate towards cardio workouts or lifting heavy weights. Although going to the gym is one way for some people to stay in shape, it is certainly not the only way to be physically active.

We’ve all heard the slogan, “No pain, no gain.” While this may be true if you are training for a marathon or body building, you don’t need to feel pain in order to be more physically active. In fact, walking is a great form of exercise and there is no pain and all gain. Regular brisk walking has many health benefits! The Centers for Disease Control recommends we walk at least 30 minutes a day, five days each week.

Regular walking can help:

• Maintain healthy weight and reduce body fat

• Improve quality of sleep

• Support your joints and balance

• Lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels

• Strengthen bones and muscles which can also lessen pains associated with arthritis

• Improve your mental health and mood by releasing natural painkillers and reducing stress

• Improve circulation by pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body and getting rid of waste products such as carbon dioxide

• You stay connected to family and friends when you make walking a social event

Are you looking for a way to spark your fitness? How about training for the 7th Annual Independence Park Trot 5K Run/Walk event. Last year, the Park Trot 5K brought more than 2,000 people to walk, run, and, stroll through one of Independence’s most beautiful parks. To promote active living, the Independence Health Department, Centerpoint Medical Center, the 2018 official sponsor, and several other sponsors provide this family-friendly event free of charge to participants of all ages and fitness levels.

This year will be the seventh year of the Park Trot 5K event. If you haven’t participated in this race in the past, come out and join the festivities! We have a Kids Dash, a fun run for children 10 and younger, and a new certified race course. The event will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 28, at Waterfall Park, 4501 S. Bass Pro Drive, Independence, Missouri. Online registration for the event has already started and will continue through April 15. Register by April 15 in order to be chip-timed.

The Independence Health Department also supports new walkers and runners looking to train for this event through our Couch-to-5K program. The Couch-to-5K is a six week training program that will allow participants to challenge themselves by adding more distance to their walking or running every week. The first meeting will be held at Waterfall Park Tuesday, March 13, at 5:30 p.m.

This event has become a favorite 5K for family, friends, and, running clubs. Whether you are an avid runner, first-time 5K participant, walking alone, with a group, or, looking to check this off your bucket-list, the Independence Park Trot is a fun filled event that promotes active living. T-shirts will be available for purchase online through April 8, so register and place your T-shirt orders early!

For more information about our Couch-to-5K program or to register for the Independence Park Trot 5K Run/Walk event, visit or contact the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7185.

– Andrew Warlen, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.