Anna Duggar just proved it’s never too late to make resolutions to get healthier. The Counting On star previously revealed on her Instagram that while she had “used the ‘busy mom’ excuse” in the past, watching her friends and family make progress on their New Year’s goals inspired her to make some changes of her own
The 21-year-old TLC veteran decided to walk 50 miles in February — about two miles per day with some days off — and invited her Instagram followers to join her in the #February50 Challenge. She not only beat her original goal by 5 miles, but she decided to do it again in March. Now her social media fans can’t get over how different Anna looks.
Here’s a photo of Anna from the fall:
And here’s Anna in another photo from April after she completed the challenge:
The transformation was so drastic some people said they almost didn’t recognize her at first.
“Is it just me or does Anna look really young in this picture?” one person commented.
“Why does this not look like Anna?!” another asked. “She looks like a high schooler! Not a bad thing at all 😄”
Some Counting On fans felt so inspired by her progress, they’ve decide to join in on the challenge too, posting hashtagged workout selfies and treadmill stats.
“I was inspired by you and joined February50,” one person wrote on her previous post. “Me and a friend surpassed the 50! We feel great and are looking better. Going to challenge ourselves again for March. Thanks!!”
Walking for fitness can really help your body in more ways than one, according to Robyn M. Stuhr, MA, ACSM-RCEP, a certified exercise physiologist and Vice President of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise Is Medicine® global health initiative.
Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week — the amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and multiple types of cancers, including breast, colon, bladder, lung, stomach, and kidney.
And if you’ve made a weight-loss goal, walking will help complement positive changes to your diet. “We know that if you do moderate-intensity exercise, which is a brisk walk, it helps prevent weight gain for adults and keep people in a healthy range,” Stuhr says. “One of the biggest things it does is help keep weight off once you lost it.”
This same moderate-intensity exercise can also shorten length of time it takes you to go to sleep, making it less likely you’ll wake up in the night, and help you spend more time in deep sleep so you feel more alert during the day, not to mention a positive impact on your mood.
“We know that being physically active affects the body, but we’re starting to learn its effect on the brain is really powerful,” Stuhr says. “It can help prevent or reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and it can reduce people’s risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Even doing one bout of exercise improves your body’s cognitive processes — how well and how fast you think.”
Plus, all you need to start is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes. For someone just getting active, Stuhr recommends focusing on walking for small chunks of time versus trying to hit two miles out of the gate. It’s easier on your joints and you can squeeze in a few minutes at lunch, after, work, and so on versus carving out a big block of time.
Begin with a 10-minute stretch and then tack five to 10 more minutes on after each week of walking, eventually working your way up to 30 minutes or more — and if you’re up for it, the 50-mile challenge. A new month starts soon, so there’s plenty of time to grab a buddy and lace up your shoes.