Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Walking: The Ultimate Exercise For Optimum Health an audio cd by Andrew Weil and Mark Fenton includes great information on walking for your health and a guide to actually help you learn to walk at different paces (strolling, health walking, weight loss walking and aerobic walking).
Andrew Weil, a medical doctor who is a strong proponent of integrative medicine and healthy living is a big believer in walking for your health. Mark Fenton is a walking expert and coach, having been editor of Walking magazine and a member of the US national racewalking team.
Weil believes walking is as effective an exercise as any other and its benefits make it a great practice you can do almost anywhere. Plus, he recommends it for all but the severely incapacitated.
Fenton is an enthusiastic and inspiring supporter. He gives you some great information on how walking can help with all sorts of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, depression, and dementia. Walking stimulates the immune system and helps maintain mental function, too. Moderate daily walking is a free prescription that we can all benefit from.
Thirty minutes of moderate walking a day is the recommended amount to get all these benefits, even if you break the thirty minutes up into three ten-minute sessions. This pace is determined and purposeful, but not a hard workout.
For weight loss, Fenton recommends an hour a day for weight loss, at a bit faster pace. Again, not terribly hard, but something you can sustain for a longer period of time.
For aerobic conditioning, twenty minutes two or three days a week at a pretty fast pace is the recommendation.
Hill walking and pole walking (Nordic walking) are recommended to increase the strength and fitness benefits of walking to make it a bit harder. They discourage hand weights when walking. Weighted vests are also not recommended simply because you would have to wear a lot of weight to make a difference.
Even if you already know and proclaim the vast benefits of walking, this program can still help you because of its second part, which you can put on your mp3 player and hit the trails (or road or treadmill) with. In this section, Fenton “coaches” you through all three types of walking. First, you start off with some warm-up stretches and then walk to an easy-to-hear and follow rhythm. He helps you with posture, gait and how to use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. Once you get started on any one of the walks, you are advised to turn off the player and walk, checking back to make sure you are still on beat.
This is very helpful if you want to know just how hard you are working. You start out strolling and then, move into the health walk at 120 steps per minute then to 135 steps per minute (weight loss walking) and then finally, a quite brisk 150 steps per minute for aerobic conditioning. Walking with this program can really help you walk with better form and learn to walk at the speed that will help you reach your goals.
You can buy this cd program from Amazon.com, or you can get it in mp3 format to download to your player from Audible.com
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