Thursday, June 02, 2005

Walking Basics

Before you start your walking program, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends following a few basic principles that will help keep you safe and comfortable:

  • If you have a health condition or have not done any regular physical activity for a long time (men over 40, women over 50), talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

  • Choose comfortable, supportive shoes, such as running, walking, or cross training shoes, or light hiking boots.

  • If you're going for a longer walk, warm up with stretching exercises and include a cool-down period to reduce stress on your heart and muscles.

  • Maintain a brisk pace. You should work hard to keep up your pace but still be able to talk while walking.

  • Practice correct posture — head upright, arms bent at the elbow and swinging as you stride.

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after walking to cool working muscles and keep your body hydrated.

Starting the WalkingWorks Program
The U.S. Surgeon General reports that a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, on most days of the week can produce long-term health benefits. The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends at least 30 minutes a day, on five or more days a week, or 10,000 steps daily, measured by a pedometer. WalkingWorks is designed for everyone, so even if you have a chronic health condition or are seriously overweight, or if you are already in great shape, you will learn how to set a goal that makes sense for you.
While 10,000 steps may seem like a lot, you're probably walking more than you think. And by making simple choices like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the store instead of driving, parking at the back of the parking lot instead of the front — you'll be surprised at how quickly the steps add up. Add 30 to 60 minutes of brisk-paced walking a day and you're there!
On this Web site, you'll find everything you need to start a regular walking routine — no matter what your fitness level. All you really need is a good pair of shoes.

Your WalkingWorks Plan
To avoid injury, consider starting out slowly. Unless you are already walking a lot, it
may take a while before you reach the 10,000 steps goal. Follow these steps to establish your individual goal and shape your program:

  1. BASELINE. There are two ways to track your progress, either by tracking time or steps. If you are using a pedometer, count your steps for seven days; if you don't have a pedometer, follow the recommendations of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports — begin with 30 minutes of brisk-paced walking at least five days each week. Keep a log to track the amount of daily walking activity you are currently doing. This will establish your baseline. Include all of your normal walking activities, such as walking up the stairs at home, walking to work, etc. At the end of each day, tally your total steps in the walking log. If you are not using a pedometer, keep track of the minutes you spend walking and apply the same principle with steps.

  2. BENCHMARK. Your benchmark is the highest number of steps or minutes you walked on any given day while establishing your baseline the first week. Use that number as your daily goal for the second and third weeks. Log your daily walks, and at the end of the third week, review your log. If you averaged your goal, add another 500 steps or several more minutes to your daily goal for the fourth and fifth weeks.

  3. BUILD. At the end of each 2-week period, try to add 500 steps or several more minutes to your walking goal. If you had difficulty reaching your goal, walk at the same level until you build enough endurance to increase your target. Continue to log your activity to prevent slipping back or dropping out. If you find yourself falling behind your average daily goal, try not to become discouraged. To maintain your motivation, keep logging your progress and stay with the same number of steps or minutes instead of increasing your target.
    Keep in mind that 10,000 steps may not be a realistic goal for everyone. If you are very overweight or have other chronic health problems, talk with your doctor to determine a goal that may be more appropriate.

Is 10,000 Steps Too Few for You?
For some people, 10,000 steps are too few to meet ultimate health or weight loss goals. For example, individuals who are already walking 7,000 or 8,000 steps per day may not get enough benefit from increasing to just 10,000. If this applies to you, ultimately aim to add a total of 7,600 steps to your current daily total, adding 500 steps every two weeks as indicated in the plan. You can also add hills, stairs, or arm weights to your routine, to make your walks more challenging.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Walking Gear and Stretching

Hi Everyone:

Today I would like to briefly discuss some walking gear and tips for stretching before walking.

Walking Gear

While there is no need to spend a lot of money on walking gear, there are a number of items that will make your walk easier, safer and more fun:

Pedometers - A pedometer is the perfect way to enhance your walking. First of all, it's fun to know how many steps you've taken, how far you've walked, or how long you've been walking. Secondly, a pedometer allows you to keep track of your progress against the goals you have set for yourself. A pedometer will aslo show you the steps taken or distance traveled over one or several walks.

Reflective Products and Lights - If you are walking in the morning or in the early evening, reflective products are a must, in my opinion. Your walking gear can include a reflective vest and reflective bands. A flash ligh is also helpful to keep safe.

Shoes - They Make the Walker - Shoes are the single most important piece of equipment for walking. They can be the difference between having a comfortable fun walk and a painful one. Find shoes with the following:

  • Provide both support and comfort to the whole foot.
  • Have enough toe room
  • Firm support at the heel
  • Breathable material

Whether this is your first time exercise walking or you are a walking pro, it is crucial that you stretch before and after your exercise. Stretching will help loosen your muscles, reducing the chance of sore or injured muscles. Suggested stretches include calf and achilles stretch, hamstring stretch and quadriceps stretch.

Picture Credit: University of Michigan

Friday, May 27, 2005

Walking and Memorial Day Holiday

Hello everyone. I just wanted to wish you all a safe Memorial Day Holiday. Don't forget about your walking routine between hotdogs and burgers :)

If you have time, checkout out all the great walking products we have to offer at The Walker's Warehouse including:

MBT Shoes by Swiss Masai - Blue LifestyleWalkblaster by Leslie Sansone
Garmin Forerunner 301 Heart Rate MonitorDenise Austin Powerbelt Walking System

From top to bottom: MBT Shoes by Swiss Masai - Sky Blue, Walkblaster by Leslie Sansone, Denise Austin Powerbelt, Garmin Forerunner 301.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Benefits of Walking


An Activity You Do Every Day.

The Number One Activity Everywhere!

Reasons why:

  • Easy To Do - There is no great trick to walking. It does not require any special skills or advanced conditioning. Walking doesn't require any special equipment or clothing. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes, comfortable clothing, a pedometer, and you're set.
  • Healthy - Some health benefits of walking include
    • Burns almost as many calories as jogging
    • Eases back pains
    • Slims you waist
    • Lowers blood pressure
    • Reduces level of bad cholesterol
    • Reduces heart attack risk
    • Lessens anxiety and tension
    • Enhances stamina and energy
  • Safe - Walking is probably the safest exercise you can do. Studies have shown that due to the design of our body, walking is more natural than sitting, standing or running, and walking is not as stressful to the body as other exercises.While walking is easier on your body, it can be just as beneficial as running in helping you lose weight. If you run for 30 minutes at 5 miles per hour you will burn about 285 calories. If you walk for 30 minutes at 4 miles per hour you will burn 165 calories on a level surface, 225 on a slight incline of 5%, and 360 calories on a 10% incline.

Walking Equipment

Shoes Make The Walker - Walking shoes are the single most important piece of equipment for the walker. They can be the difference between having a fun, relaxing walk and an uncomfortable, painful walk.

It is important to get a good pair of walking shoes with the following characteristics:

  • Provide both support and comfort to all parts of the foot.
  • Have enough toe room so that you can wiggle your toes.
  • Have firm support at the heel.
  • Have a flexible cushioned sole in order to aid in the walking gait and to absorb shock.
  • Be made of breathable material, preferably leather, or fabric to allow perspiration to dissipate.
  • Be lightweight
Stay Tuned:

My next entry will include a discussion of walking gear and stretching exercises.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Walking Off the Pounds

Make sure to take these tips with you when walking for exercise.

Tip #1: Drink Plenty of Water

  • Too little can cause dehydration and mineral inbalances that make muscles more susceptible to injury.
  • Drink 12-16 ounces 10 minutes before you get moving.
  • Take a bottle with you and try to drink 8 ounces every 20 minutes or so.
  • After your walk, gulp down 12-16 ounces of water while relaxing on the porch.

Tip #2: Do some breathing exercises before and after

  • It'll ease yor stress levels, helping you focus more on your walk.
  • More fucous, less injury.

Tip #3: No cell phones

  • You need all your breaths for walking so your back muscles protect your spine from the impact of walking.
  • Loks tacky anyway :)

Tip#4: Stand tall in your stride

  • Good posture keeps the body in alignment, preventing neck, shoulder and back aches.
  • Check out The Walkers Warehouse for the perfect walking shoes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Walking For Fitness

In December, 2001, the U. S. Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher issued "The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity." In this report, Dr. Satcher joined former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop by highlighting the health risks and costs of overweight and obesity and issued a call to Americans to take action. Dr. Koop founded Shape Up America! in 1994 because of his concern about the increasing prevalence of obesity in America. The mission of Shape Up America! is to provide you with solid (scientific) information on weight management.

Over the years, the Surgeon General has warned Americans about such things as the hazards of cigarette smoking or a high cholesterol level in your blood. In 1996, the Surgeon General issued an important report on physical activity and warned us that regardless of our age, we are just not active enough. Since then, you may have been scratching your head, wondering just how much activity would make the Surgeon General happy. Our purpose is to clarify how much exercise is necessary to manage your weight and to introduce the 10,000 steps program.

Exercise and Health

The Surgeon General's recommendation for physical activity is to add about 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity each day on top of your customary daily activities. This recommendation is a health recommendation - it is designed to improve your health and it is backed by solid evidence that you will improve your health if you follow this recommendation. But is it enough activity to prevent weight regain after a weight loss program? Is it enough activity to prevent overweight in the first place? No, the studies show it is not likely to be enough for either purpose.

For Weight Management—How Much is Enough?

So how much activity is enough for weight management? There are now some studies suggesting that walking 10,000 steps a day is the right ball park to be in. Several months ago, we decided to purchase a pedometer so that we could figure out how to talk to you about the physical activity goal of "10,000 steps a day." The pedometer we purchased is of the very simple variety. It tracks steps and that's it. We didn't care about tracking miles walked or calories burned or any of the other fancy features that some pedometers offer. We purchased the basic model, which means it was the least expensive -- costing less than $30. We learned you can't just stick it in your pocket. You have to firmly clip it to a belt or waistband around your waist in order for it to work properly.

After wearing the pedometer for a few weeks, we learned that in the normal course of events—just living and working - we took anywhere from 900 to 3000 steps in a day and not much more. In other words, we came to realize that it was pretty nearly impossible for us to get in 10,000 steps in a day without intentionally going out for a walk (or getting on a treadmill).

Here is what we learned about getting started on the 10,000 steps program:

  • To avoid injury, you need to work up slowly. If you have any concerns about your joints (ankles, knees or hips) discuss your exercise plans with your physician.
  • You will need a good pair of sneakers. We actually prefer a running shoe with plenty of cushion. We noticed that we are wearing out our sneakers and replacing them every six months or so.
  • Start out by wearing the pedometer each day for two weeks and don't do anything to change your normal routine. Before you go to bed, take care to log your steps at the end of the day each day for the entire two-week period. At the end of the second week, take a look at how many steps you are taking each day in the course of living your life. Perhaps on some days it is as few as 700 steps in a day and on other days, it may be as high as 2500 steps.
  • If you feel comfortable doing so, take the highest number of steps you have walked on any given day and use that number of steps as your daily step goal. Feel free to select a smaller number of steps as your goal if you prefer. To avoid injury, do not select a higher number. Aim for your goal each day for the next two weeks. Let's assume your first step goal is 2500 steps. That means that for the next two weeks, you are going to try to walk 2500 steps each day. Before bedtime each night, be sure to log in the number of steps you actually took.
  • At the end of that two-week period, review all the steps you took each day and decide if you are ready to add another 500 steps to your goal. Your new step goal is now 3000 steps a day for the next two-week period.
  • Continue in that manner, working up as slowly as you wish, until you finally reach the goal of 10,000 steps a day.
  • Check with your physician if you experience any pain or discomfort that concerns you. We consider pain a warning signal that something may be wrong. Our goal is to keep you active for the rest of your life. So don't go overboard and pull a muscle that will put you out of commission. Take it slow. Take it easy.

I Hate to Walk, But I Like To ….

If you really can't stand to walk but you like to jog or run—Go ahead and get your steps in with jogging or running. A pedometer can track your steps whether you are moving slow or fast. If you use special exercise equipment or if you like to bicycle, swim or kayak, we discovered our pedometer does not help us keep track of our activity. Even on a stair stepper or stair climber in the gym, it was not accurate. But not to worry, you can "translate" your 10,000 step goal into an equivalent time goal for your favorite activity. For the convenience of our members, we have provided you with a list of activities you can choose to set up your own personal activity time goal.

After I have reached my goal, what then?

Whether it is 10,000 steps or some other activity, if you are reaching your daily activity goal pretty regularly, here is what you need to know:

  • It takes about six months to "lock in" a new behavior. Aim to do what is necessary to change your exercise behavior permanently. Be prepared to dedicate yourself to your daily goal each day for a minimum of six months. If you do that, you are much more likely to maintain this goal permanently.
  • If you skip a few days due to illness, work or other obligations, the sooner you get back into the exercise groove, the more likely you will be able to get back into your routine.
  • If you continue to skip days, you will discover it is a downward spiral. The more days you skip, the more likely you will abandon your program altogether.
  • If you can get back in the groove and exercise two days in a row, you will discover that the third day of exercise will be easier to achieve.
  • If you are starting to get bored, we suggest you start keeping an exercise log so you can monitor yourself.
  • If you are keeping a log but still struggling with boredom, you may be ready to think about designing a more comprehensive fitness program for yourself. We can help you design such a program if you visit our "Fitness Center"
  • As another hedge against boredom, consider finding a buddy to exercise with or locate a few buddies you can call upon to join you from time to time. But don't let a flagging commitment on the part of your buddy influence your commitment to your goals. Be prepared to carry on alone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Walking Workouts - Tips and Tricks

Walking Workouts - Tips & Tricks

Of all the ways to stay fit, walking is the easiest, safest, and cheapest. It can also be the most fun: a fine day, a good companion, an attainable goal (say, a scenic spot) three or four miles away. On city streets, in the woods, or even round and round the high school track, walking is the best way to experience a landscape. If it's too rainy for anything but a treadmill indoors, at least you can read or watch TV. And after your workout, you know you've done yourself some good.

Briskly walking one mile (brisk usually means 3.5 to 4 miles per hour) burns nearly as many calories as running a mile at a moderate pace, and confers similar fitness and health benefits. Even strolling or slow walking (about 2 miles per hour) confers some benefits. This was seen in a new Harvard study of almost 40,000 female health professionals, which found that walking as little as an hour a week, at any pace, reduces the risk of coronary artery disease. Longer and more vigorous walking produced a greater risk reduction.

Here's how to get more out of your walking workouts and to vary your routine:

• Try to walk briskly for at least half an hour every day, or one hour four times a week. If you weigh 150 pounds, walking at 3.5 miles an hour on flat terrain burns about 300 calories per hour. So this schedule would burn about 1,100 calories a week (studies show that burning 1,000 to 2,000 calories a week in exercise helps protect against heart disease). If you can't work that into your schedule, try more frequent, shorter walks.

•Make an effort to walk as much as possible. Skip elevators and escalators and take the stairs. Leave the car at home if you can walk the mile or two to a friend's house. Walk to work, at least part of the way.

• Another approach: get a pedometer and see how many steps you take a day. Aim for 3,000, and then try to work up to at least 5,000 steps (about 2.5 miles for the average stride) in the course of your daily activities. Some Japanese health officials advise 10,000 steps as a goal, though there is no magic number. To achieve the higher goals, you'll have to include some brisk exercise walking in addition to walking at home and at work.

• If you want to go faster, instead of taking longer steps, take faster steps. Lengthening your stride can increase strain on your feet and legs.

• Swing your arms. One good option: bend them at 90° and pump from the shoulder, like race walkers do. Swing them naturally, as if you're reaching for your wallet in your back pocket. On the swing forward, your wrist should be near the center of your chest. Move your arms in opposition to your legs—swing your right arm forward as you step forward with your left leg. Keep your wrists straight, your hands unclenched, and elbows close to your sides. The vigorous arm pumping allows for a quicker pace, and provides a good workout for your upper body. And you'll burn 5 to 10% more calories.

• Add some interval training. For example, speed up for a minute or two every five minutes. Or alternate one fast mile with two slower miles.

• Choose varied terrains. Walking on grass or gravel burns more calories than walking on a track. And walking on soft sand increases caloric expenditure by almost 50%, if you can keep up the pace.

• Walk up and down hills to build strength and stamina and burn more calories. Combine hill walking with your regular flat-terrain walking as a form of interval training. When walk-ing uphill, lean forward slightly—it's easier on your leg muscles. Walking downhill can be harder on your body, especially the knees, than walking uphill, and may cause muscle soreness, so slow your pace, keep your knees slightly bent, and take shorter steps.

• Try a walking stick or poles. A walking stick is helpful for balance, especially for older people. To enhance your upper-body workout, use lightweight, rubber-tipped trekking poles, sold in many sporting-goods stores. This is like cross-country skiing without the skis. When you step forward with the left foot, the right arm with the pole comes forward and is planted on the ground, about even with the heel of the left foot. This works the muscles of your chest and arms as well as some abdominals, while reducing the stress on your knees. Find the right size poles by testing them in the store: you should be able to grip the pole and keep your forearm about level as you walk. Many poles are now adjustable.

• Use hand weights, but carefully. Hand weights can boost your caloric expenditure, but they may alter your arm swing and thus lead to muscle soreness or even injury. They're generally not recommended for people with high blood pressure or heart disease. If you want to use them, start with one-pound weights and increase the weight gradually. The weights shouldn't add up to more than 10% of your body weight. Ankle weights are not recommended, as they increase the chance of injury.

• Try backward walking for a change of pace. It is demanding, since it's a novel activity for most people. Even a slow pace (2 mph) provides fairly intense training. "Retro" walking is also a good option if you're trying to vary your workout on a treadmill or stair-climbing machine. And if you're recovering from a knee injury, it may help. Be careful when going back-wards outdoors: choose a smooth surface and keep far away from traffic, trees, potholes, and other exercisers. A deserted track is ideal. If possible, work out with a spotter, a forward-walking partner who can keep you from bumping into something and help pace you. To avoid muscle soreness, start slowly: don't try to walk backward more than a quarter mile the first week. Elderly exercisers or anyone else with balance problems should not retro walk.

• Choose the right shoes. Avoid stiff-soled shoes that don't bend. "Walking shoes" have flexible soles and stiff heel counters to prevent side-to-side motion. But for normal terrain, any comfortable, cushioned, lightweight, low-heeled shoes will do.

Walking Non-Profit Coalition

The National Coalition for a Healthy America (NCHA) is a non-profit corporation established in 2003 to combat the growing epidemics of obesity and related illnesses across America. Their mission is to work in concert with state and local governments, non-profit organizations and institutions to develop and implement broad-based walking and fitness initiatives that increase public awareness and participation in healthy lifestyle programs across all social and economic groups.

The NCHA’s mission statement is reinforced by overwhelming statistics showing that many Americans do not live a healthy lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has established that only 32 percent of Americans attain the recommended level of physical activity necessary to maintain a basic level of fitness. Halting and reversing the steep arc of the obesity epidemic will require effective collaboration among government, volunteer and private sectors, as well as a commitment to action by individual communities across the nation. The NCHA was created to provide a conduit through which all these diverse entities may join forces and coordinate their efforts for the common good of the populace.

The NCHA strives to make a significant impact on the roots of the obesity problem in our country.

All of our programs adhere to the following protocol:
1. The program must be accessible to the entire population base
2. The program must be scaleable to allow across a wide demographic and geographic spectrum
3. The program must provide trackable scientific data to gauge the success of the program
4. The program must provide a common link that makes it useable by the population regardless of age, physical condition, current weight, or access to educational and fitness resources.

To reach these ends, the NCHA has developed, along with its sponsors, programs that uses walking as a primary exercise tool. Throughout schools, communities and entire cities, walking can successfully combat an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. Our programs promote and encourage simple changes in lifestyle that over time have proven to have a dramatic impact on the health and fitness of participants.

The NCHA believes that one static program or philosophy will not serve the needs of an overweight nation. Rather, we are committed to work with each motivated community or group on an individual basis to develop and implement a program that will serve the specific needs of that group. We invite you to join with us, as a participant or a sponsor, on our journey to return to a healthy America.

To learn more:

Or contact:

Gary Yarusso
Executive Director

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