You can't beat walking for exercise.
It's cheap, can be done indoors or outdoors, and requires no equipment but some good shoes. You can be a loner when walking or do it with friends or family. Considerable research shows it may be better than jogging: It's easier on the knees and can be sustained longer.
Though it may take longer to burn the same number of calories when walking compared to jogging, reality is calorie burning is not just a matter of velocity. It's also a matter of how much mass is moved and for how long. So for overweight people, more calories are burned walking compared to calories burned by people of normal weight who walk the same distance and rate.
Until IPFW employee Kris Ohneck joined a women's walking group called Tapestry Walk the Talk in July 2011, she was a “charity walker,” participating each year in three or four walkathon fundraisers sponsored by nonprofits.
“It was a one-day thing. I never really trained for it,” Ohneck says.
But last year, she set a goal to participate in Fort4Fitness. The half marathon, 10K walk-run and 4-mile walk-run, plus a kids' and seniors' marathon, last year drew nearly 10,000 participants from 30 states and three countries.
Ohneck, 62, knew walking a few walkathons was not going to adequately prepare her for Fort4Fitness.
She recruited a friend, and the two joined the 12-week women's walking program held at IPFW. Varied routes were mapped out, with women starting out at just a half mile, then working up to 4 miles by the time Fort4Fitness rolled around in late September. Walk the Talk was started three years ago by IPFW's Tapestry for Women event organizers in collaboration with Fort4Fitness.
“There were young ladies up to woman older than me. Some had health challenges and were walking to get their body back in better health,” Ohneck says. “Some had weight problems and walked to get exercise to increase weight loss.
“My friend and I held each other accountable,” she adds. “We'd call each other to see if the other person was going. We'd encourage each other by saying, 'Why don't we go out for pizza afterward.' Then we realized that was kind of self-defeating,” so they skipped the pizza but faithfully walked each Thursday night and also met on weekends to walk together on their own.
It paid off. Nearly 140 women participated in the 2011 Walk the Talk, and Ohneck and her friend were one of about 40 who completed the 4-mile or 10K walk.
Tapestry Walk the Talk reconvenes July 10, and it has gained such popularity that two walking sites, IPFW and Parkview Family Park, will be offered this summer.
Quality time together is a key reason mom-daughter duo Kelly and Megan Updike joined Walk the Talk last summer.
“At first, I thought it was going to be a bunch of older ladies,” says Megan Updike, 25, who had just graduated from college and was soon heading off to grad school.
Realizing her studies had led her to be more of a couch potato than she wanted to be, she agreed to join her mom. Walk the Talk, she says, proved to be much more than exercise.
“They talked about proper footwear, warming up, nutritional ideas — things like that — before we started each walk,” she says. The 15-minute educational presentations are given by people with expertise on the topics.
Among the 2012 pre-walk presenters are a dietitian who will talk about healthy snacks, a nurse practitioner who will discuss stress reduction, and a previous Walk the Talk participant and heart attack survivor who will share how walking has helped her not just regain but significantly improve her health.
Though Kelly Updike takes her dog for daily walks, she says, “I really don't walk the dog that far.” Walk the Talk made her more accountable to increase her walking time, says the busy executive director of the Embassy Theatre. “I find that I need to have something scheduled or I put it off. The program was very encouraging. It is very organized and very well thought out.”