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The Skinny on Walking

My friend Paula, the List Producer, offered up the following question for a blog topic: what IS the deal with walking anyway? To address this, I offer my personal experience along with input from Brent Brookbush, fitness guru and President of B2C Fitness, LLC; and throw in a link to an article I found particularly helpful about the subject.

These Streets Were Made for Walking!

Since moving to New York City four years ago, I can honestly say I have taken every opportunity to walk wherever and whenever I can: from home to work; work to the gym; the gym to someone else’s home – you get the picture.  I have always thought walking is better than no activity at all and it turns out, Brent agrees with me. However, he also stresses that while it can be a good starting point for beginners or those who fell off the fitness wagon and are slowly working back into a routine, it’s not going to do anything to improve actual performance. Why? Well, you’d have to walk ridiculously fast to get your heart rate up to just the first of three training zones – and how many of us can say that’s what we’re doing even as we try to pick up the pace on a walk to work?

To get some actual data to discuss the difference between running and walking, I searched the Internet and found this article by Rick Morris particularly helpful and hope you will, too. (It even includes a 1000 calorie fat-burning workout.)

http://www.runningplanet.com/training/running-versus-walking.html

So put this information together and what does it mean? While walking to work may not give you the same cardiovascular or calorie-burning benefits of a 30-minute bout on the elliptical machine or treadmill or a high-intensity 45-minute spin class, it’s still better than no movement at all.  Since I’m a big proponent of taking care of your body and your mind, if that walk to work helps you clear your head and makes you want to kick things up a notch with a run in the park or a bike ride over the weekend, then more power to you!

Remember, in the end, we all have to walk, run, ride or skip along our own path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Fitting Fitness Into Your Vacation

Photo by Laura DeAngelis

This will be my last post for several days. Why? Because I’m getting out of the hot and steamy Big Apple for long weekend of relaxation in Newport, Rhode Island.  We all work hard, and we all need to get away now and then.  The good news is while you can leave reality behind for awhile, you don’t have to abandon your fitness regimen. If anything, a vacation gives you the opportunity to mix up your routine.  So, as a break from packing, I thought I’d offer some of my favorite ways to burn some calories while on vacation:

  • Walk, walk and walk some more!  Our hotel in Newport is about one mile from the beach, so we get some good strides heading to and from our daily hangout. Then there’s the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk, which offers such amazing scenery, you may forget you’re getting a good workout while you scramble on some rocks along the way.  Wherever you may be going, make the effort to leave the car behind and explore the town or neighboring area on foot. (Don’t forget to bring supportive footwear.)
  • If there’s a pool where you’re staying, do some daily laps.
  • Pack a Frisbee or paddle ball game to play on the beach. If there’s a beach volleyball game going on somewhere, don’t be shy – ask if you can join one of the teams.  No sand around? Find a park, claim your spot in the grass and have some fun!
  • Try something completely different.  If you’re near a lake, find out if you can rent a canoe or kayaks and paddle around for an hour or two. If you like it on your first day, you can go back for more during the duration of the trip.
  • Use the hotel’s fitness center. More and more hotels are offering some sort of workout space. Granted, it may consist of one stationary bike, one elliptical, one treadmill, some free weights and (if you’re lucky) a yoga ball.  Those options mean you can still get in some good cardio, and use the free weights as extra resistance for squats and lunges.  Then you can work the upper body with a minimum of bicep curls, lateral raises and overhead presses, and round things out with some core work.  All in the comfort of air conditioning!
  • If you’re lucky enough to be staying somewhere with a DVD player and some extra room, bring one or two of your fitness DVDs along for the trip.

Newport, RI

Whatever activity you jump on, remember to stretch the muscles you worked during that walk, canoe ride  or mean game of paddle ball.  Make sure you also stay hydrated, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Whether or not the coming weekend allows you the opportunity to get away from it all, I wish you some time to relax and re-charge your batteries so you can approach a new week with new energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Power of Walking

We’re busy people.  Between work, family and social engagements, there never seem to be enough hours in the day.  Whether your day job involves chasing your kids and running the household, sitting behind a desk, standing on your feet for hours, or catching a flight to the next meeting, sometimes the idea of working out is just too much.

Except for the kid-chasing duties, any day at West Glen Communications, Inc. can involve almost all of the above.  When I’m not putting together the lineup or filming for “Health & Home Report,” I may spend a day (or night) “in the field” with corporate clients for a video shoot followed by an edit. Or I may be at the computer writing scripts about everything from the latest Beta blocker to a survey about diapers.

So, after the multi-tasking, problem solving and brain-power depletion, am I up for going to the gym every single day? No! And I’m here to tell you – as a certified fitness professional – that it’s okay to take a day off.  There are several reasons why you should, but here are my two “favorites”:

First, your body needs recovery time. In activities like resistance training, the goal is to place enough stress on your muscle tissues to cause the changes you want. But too much stress is never a good thing, especially when it comes to your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Second, I know firsthand that if you’re completely exhausted and force yourself to go to the gym, chances are you won’t focus on your form and you could end up injured. Then you’ll be out of the game for more than one day.

If you can’t stand the idea of being totally inactive, here’s an idea: Slip off those work shoes, lace up the sneakers (no flip-flops, please!) and take a walk!

If you live in a city like I do where you can walk from home to work or at least part of the way, give it a try. Between the fresh air and the people watching, it never gets old. If the traffic lights cooperate, you can get a good pace going and get your heart rate up.

General health guidelines call for 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity each day. That includes walking, using the stairs, gardening and mowing the lawn.  And guess what?  Studies show performing three 10-minute bouts of exercise can have the same benefits as one 30-minute continuous exercise session.  Need some combo ideas?

The High Line: A Great Place to Walk!

Morning: Walk 10 minutes from your home to the office, or walk to a subway or bus stop that’s a little farther away. Or take a couple of laps around your child’s school after dropping her off.

Lunchtime: Instead of grabbing a salad next door, walk 10 minutes to a different place. At home? Get out in the yard.

Evening:  Enjoy those last 10 minutes on foot in your own neighborhood, and bring someone special along. If you’re stuck working late  – there’s always a staircase to climb.

Whether you’re a power athlete or just getting started on a fitness routine, taking it easy is good for the body and the soul.

In the end,  just remember to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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