Treadmill Walking 101

Treadmill Walking 101

When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some of you may turn to your treadmill to get your steps in. It’s important to have proper technique and safety to get the best out of your treadmill walk.

1. Begin standing with one foot on each side of the treadmill. Step on the treadmill and start at a slow rate of speed and slowly increase the speed. Be sure to know where the red emergency switch is located on most machines.

2. Do not hold onto the side rails or front console. You often see people holding on and leaning back while walking. This is incorrect posture and could be dangerous.

3. Stand up straight, head up, eyes forward, arms swinging in stride with your feet. Stride with your front heel striking close to your body while your back foot remains on the ground longer to give a powerful push-off. This back foot push off is what gives you speed and power, and will help you burn more calories.

Big Screen Treadmill Interval Walking Workout

Interval workouts alternate very fast and slower-paced walking for a great cardiovascular workout and a high calorie burn.

Start your treadmill workout during a favorite tv show or movie. Decide your walking fast pace points in the show and slow pace points in the show. For example, if you’re watching The Biggest Loser, walk at a very fast pace during each part of a challenge on a show, then slow way down during the commercials. If you’re a sports fan, go fast during breakaways on hockey and slow down when the whistle blows. Soap opera fan? Up and down with every kiss, fight or gun shot.

Total time: 47 minutes.

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5 Quick Tips for Exercising in the Summer Heat

5 Quick Tips for Exercising in the Summer Heat

Summer is finally here! For many of us that means FINALLY getting to go outside and do all the outdoors-y activities we couldn’t do earlier in the year.

If you are a walker and participating in a walking or activity program, you may be excited at the prospect of getting your steps in outside instead on the treadmill or at the gym.

Still, summer can also mean extreme heat and humidity. These things can make it tough to spend any time outdoors without getting sunburn, heat stroke or experiencing dehydration—let alone regular exercise. Exercising, to some degree, in the heat is normally safe for most people.  Nevertheless, putting a few safeguards in place will help you keep cool and prevent heat associated problems.

Keep Alert for Danger Signs from Your Body

Usually, your body cools off when sweat evaporates off your skin. However, when heat and humidity rise, sweat isn’t able to disappear as fast as it would under other normal circumstances. Hot weather and high body temperature combined with exercise can be unsafe and even deadly.

Let’s face it: We aren’t like the heroes in our favorite movies. For these characters, it seems like they can keep going no matter the weather or the temperature. We’re normal people. That means we need to pay attention to the signs. If your body gets overheated it can cause physical symptoms like faintness, muscle cramps, dehydration, light-headedness, confusion, rapid heart rate and headache. If neglected, becoming overheated, can lead to unconsciousness, vomiting, trouble breathing and the inability to sweat. All of these are signs of heat stroke and require urgent medical attention.

All that being said, we don’t have to give up or just not exercise because it’s hot outdoors. Remember, we wanted it to warm up specifically for this reason!

Check Out These 5 Tips to Help You Beat the Heat:

1. Get a Check Up and a Thumbs Up from Your Doc. Newbies to fitness, working out or even those who are used to working out but who may be taking any medications, should check with their physician or medical professional before working out or exercising in the summer heat.  There are some medications that could possibly weaken your body’s ability to normalize temperature.

2. Protect Your Skin and Wear Suitable Clothing. Cotton does not wick away moisture as well as loose-fitting polyester/cotton blends. These or synthetic fibers designed especially for wicking during exercise are your best choices. Don’t forget to generously apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.  We recommend you use an oil-free formula. Oil-free formulas are less likely to interfere with your body’s ability to cool down. Many people also like to choose a wide brimmed hat to shield their face from the sun.

3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. This is super important. Remember to keep drinking water before, during and after your exercise routine or even when hanging out and playing games, being involved in water sports or other outdoor recreation.  Try switching to a sports drink with electrolytes if you exercise for more than an hour at a time.

4. Time of Day and Air Quality Awareness. If you live in areas where there can be high levels of smog or your city publicizes smog alerts, be sure to check these before heading outdoors for exercise. It’s wise to decrease the intensity of your workout level on days with extreme heat and high smog.

When it comes to time of day – remember that early in the morning or early evening times are often the coolest parts of the day. In some southern states, it doesn’t cool down til well after 8:00 pm at night so factoring in how much light you’ll need may become an important component in your exercise schedule.

5. Check Your Heart Rate and Keep Alert for Danger Signs. While you are exercising, monitor your heartbeat. If your intensity level increases and exceeds your target range, don’t push it during extreme heat. It’s best to slow down to avoid further heat related stress. Use common sense and keep alert for any of the danger signs we mentioned above.

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May is National Stroke Awareness Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and we’re taking the time to remind everyone that there are steps you can take to help prevent and reduce your risk of stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of adult disability1,2. About 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.2 One American dies from a stroke every 4 minutes, on average.2

While the following information is helpful for stroke prevention, it’s also important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association both share informative tips and education on quickly identifying stroke warning signs as well as how to what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke.

How to Help Prevent Stroke

The CDC focuses on two key areas when it comes to preventing stroke.  These areas involve making healthy lifestyle choices and being aware of medical conditions.

Healthy lifestyle choices include:

  • Getting enough exercise.
  • Not smoking.
  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Limiting alcohol use.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.

Medical Conditions include: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and previous history of stroke.

Getting Enough Exercise

Being active daily can help you sustain a healthy weight and decrease cholesterol and blood pressure levels.  The Surgeon General advises that adults get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, each week. It’s recommended that children and teens get at least 1 hour of physical activity every day. For more information, see CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web site.

Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoking significantly raises your risk for stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you are a smoker, it’s been proven that quitting the habit will reduce your risk for stroke. See your doctor or medical provider for ways to help you quit.

For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site.

Eat Smart

Selecting healthy meal and snack alternatives can help you prevent stroke and its complications. Remember to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.Consuming foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol  but also high in fiber can help you avoid high cholesterol. Another way to help lower and maintain blood pressure is by limiting the salt (sodium) in your diet.To get more details on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program Web site.

Monitor or Decrease Alcohol Intake

Drinking can increase your blood pressure. A good rule of thumb to remember: Men should not have more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1. For more information, visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Research shows that being overweight or obese raises your risk for stroke. If you are unsure whether or not your weight is in a healthy range, take a look at how doctors often calculate your body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can determine your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site. Medical professionals will also often use waist and hip measurements to measure excess body fat.

Medical Conditions

If you already have certain health conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or other medical concerns requiring medication, it’s critical that you have these things monitored and checked on a regular basis. Be sure to keep all appointments with your doctor so that you can be your healthiest. You view tips on how to keep updated on your current health conditions on the CDC’s website dedicated to preventing stroke.

*References provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2013. NCHS Data Brief, No. 178. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept. of Health and Human Services; 2014.
  2. Mozzafarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015:e29–322.
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Plan a Summer Walking Vacation (or Staycation)

Planning your summer vacation (or staycation)? How about making it a walking vacation?!

Guided walking tours run the gambit, from architecture to history to shopping to haunted houses! After deciding on your destination, check with the local tourism bureau for river walks, hiking trails or guided tours. Most museums offer self-guided tour material and maps, and some even offer audio-guided tours for a fee.

Another great resource for self-guided walking tours is Volkssports or IVV clubs. (Google: ivv walks)

Volkssports, meaning “people” sports, are non-competitive fitness groups that originated in Europe. The American Volkssport Assocation’s website says “Volkssporting is an international sports phenomenon that promotes personal physical fitness and good health by providing fun-filled, safe exercise in a stress-free environment through self-paced walks and hikes, bike rides, swims, and in some regions cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Walking is the most popular of all U.S. volkssporting activities and has been identified by the U.S. Surgeon General as the most beneficial form of exercise.”

These walking clubs have associations in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and offer a wealth of information about permanent trails selected by club members. The trails may go through scenic or historic areas, and may be in cities, towns, parks, or rural areas.

How about these ideas for a walking vacation?

  1. The Royal London Trail from Hyde Park, to Kensington, past Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square in England.
  2. Enjoy more than 120 pieces of art at the Benson Sculpture Gardens in Loveland, Colorado.
  3. Following the San Antonio Riverwalk through the King William District, past The Menger Hotel, where Theodore Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders, an onto the “The Alamo.” (San Antonio also has “ghost tours” where participants can walk from location to location downtown in hopes of encountering paranormal activity).
  4. Vist west Texas and walking the grounds around and up in the hills surrounding Ft. Davis where the settlers heading west would stop for rest, refuge and supplies.

Throughout the year, individual clubs also organize walking events designed for all fitness levels. No membership is required and it is a great way to experience your destination.


Don’t forget to:
- Pack sunblock and insect spray.
- Wear a hat, a good pair of sunglasses and your pedometer.
- Carry water and snacks.
- Don’t overdo it, take regular breaks and remember you have to walk back!

Botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, zoos … oh, so many opportunities to get your 10,000 steps a day!

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10 Tips for Walking or Running at Night

With summer approaching and daylight savings time also in effect, many of us will stay out later. We’ll exercise later in the day or schedule our walks for cooler hours. For those of in the more southern states, if we miss walking in the early morning hours, we end up needing to walk in the evening when it’s cooler just to avoid blazing hot temperatures after 8:00 am in the morning.

With these things in mind, we want to encourage you to enjoy the warmer, sun filled days and also give you a few practical, common sense tips to help you see and be seen while walking at night.

  1. Carry a flashlight to illuminate your path and help drivers see you. Consider clipping a “book” light or other small light on the back of your jacket.
  2. Walk in well lit areas and on routes you are familiar with. You need to know where the curbs and uneven surfaces are.
  3. Wear reflective material when walking at dusk or at night. Don’t rely on one strip of reflective tape on your leg or arm.
  4. Face oncoming traffic and stay on designated walkways and paths when possible. When a car approaches, move out of the way.
  5. Always assume drivers will not see you, especially when crossing a street. Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you.
  6. Use popular walking routes. Drivers in that area may already be on the lookout for pedestrians. But again, don’t assume that every driver is familiar with the area.  Share your walking route and what time you expect to return with someone you trust.
  7. Be aware of engine noises and backup lights, cars backing out of driveway and parking lots.
  8. Don’t use headphones or talk on the phone. Don’t get distracted.
  9. Walk with a buddy or take Fido with you. There is safety in numbers and company can make the time pass.
  10. Wear a whistle or carry a small alarm to attract attention if you need help.
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