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What's Up Magazine

Walk, Don't Run!

Aug 07, 2013 11:15AM ● By Cate Reynolds

By Bekah Walsh

To those of you who are appalled by running: your time has come! While people on your Facebook feed are posting pics from their latest 5K (and you still wonder why on earth they would want to do such a thing!), you can reap greater health benefits just by walking.

You read that right; a recent study published in the American Heart Association Journal followed 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers aged 15 to 80 over a period of six years. While they found that both groups lowered their risks of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, the ones who walk actually did so more. For example, the risk of heart disease was lowered 9.3 percent in walkers versus only 4.5 percent in runners!

But not so fast…I mean, slow! We aren’t talking a Sunday stroll here. The study specified that the walkers and runners share “equivalent energy expenditures.” A long, brisk walk is the type that will benefit your body. Think a power walk around the Crofton Parkway–roughly an hour.

We all know that exercise, including walking, has its perks. In addition to the health benefits, it is known to help in weight maintenance, improve your mood, reduce stress, clear those brain cobwebs, boost energy and immunity, and help with balance and coordination. Combine that with the walking-friendly September weather; why wouldn’t you want to head outside for some “me-time?” Begin and end your walk at a more leisurely pace to allow your body to warm up and cool down. The bulk of the walk should be at a consistent brisk pace with a good posture: head up facing ahead, relaxed neck and shoulders, a straight back with your tummy sucked in, and a smooth heel-toe stride.

That wasn’t so bad, was it? You might even want to do it again! Set yourself up for success by wearing a comfortable pair of shoes with proper arch support for your foot type (don’t be afraid to toss the old pair out and start fresh!), and dry, fitted socks (avoid cotton!) that will help prevent blistering. Choose a route with a smooth, even walkway, and remember to stretch post-walk.

Many online fitness resources tote walking as the exercise with the highest “compliance rate” of any exercise (meaning you’re more likely to keep it up!). However, if you’re concerned about motivation, accountability is key. Enlist a walking buddy, or for a truly relentless partner, adopt a furry friend! Dog owners are proven to get more exercise, which is no shock; I guarantee that your pup is not so willing to let you sit on that couch for long!

If you must go it alone, technology has made it easy to keep ourselves intrigued: enjoy a playlist or audiobook on your iPod, track your progress and challenge yourself with a pedometer, find a fun fitness app or challenge (30 miles in 30 days…you can do that, right?), or simply meditate on and enjoy your beautiful surroundings.

Bekah Walsh is a Croftonite on her own wellness journey via a new vegetarian diet and weekly yoga. She blogs about her life and adventures at