Walking to Your Future

Walking is terrific exercise; it’s the only exercise in which participation doesn’t decline as we get older. A survey showed that the highest percentage of regular walkers — thirty-nine percent — were men and women sixty-five or older.

Which burns more calories – walking one mile in fifteen minutes or jogging one mile in eight?  The answer is that they’re about the same. Overweight individuals will burn more calories in either case because they’re working harder.

There’s walking and there’s walking; moving at a slow pace is a stroll. Moving at a pace to get your heart rate going at sixty percent or more is a brisk walk. You’ll know it because you’ll be breathing deeper and may have trouble carrying on a conversation. Like every other exercise, the more you do it, the stronger you get and the more you can and should do.

Every day there are lots of brisk walkers in our community in SW Florida, but there are some who are out for a stroll. It’s better than staying home, but why not pick up the pace a little? Walk at a fast pace for awhile, so that you’re breathing hard, then at a slower pace, then back up to a fast pace. That kind of exercise, with structured increases in intensity, is called interval training, and it’s really good for you. It gets the blood pumping and the fat burning. Time yourself — begin by doing thirty-second intervals and work up to one minute.

Do you have an iPod? If so, consider going to Prevention.com and search for “playlist.” They have a number of downloads designed for different types of exercise; running, walking, interval training and more. RealAge, another website, is another source. Music can be a good motivator and companion.

Measure the distance you’re walking and see how long it takes. A good pace that will get your heart pumping is a mile in seventeen minutes, which is three and a half miles an hour. Set that as a goal if you’re not already there, and then shoot for a mile in fifteen minutes.