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posted November 14th, 2011 3:33 am

Walking for Peace

And when we breathe peacefully, the peace of our breath will penetrate into our body and into our mind. Then very soon, in no time at all, body, mind, and breath will become one in concentration, and we get the energy of stability, solidity, and freedom generated by every step we make. "I have arrived. I am home." That is a practice.


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posted November 9th, 2011 8:41 am by WFC staff

A great source of walking information!

Here is a simple, comprehensive website that offers great information on what ? Walking of course!


It's a great layout, easy on the eyes and you can gather a lot of insight.

Check it out!

(Just highlight  copy & paste the URL into a a new browser window. )

posted November 9th, 2011 8:41 am by gsr

This is a great site! I liked the section on stretching.

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posted November 7th, 2011 4:31 am by WFC staff

Walking to Live Longer

you're the active type who likes a good brisk walk, keep at it -- especially as you get older.

New research shows that walking faster in the later years of life may help seniors live longer.

Dr. Stephanie Studenski and her colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh analyzed the findings of nine previous studies to determine whether there was a link between walking speed and mortality.

They did so because there are often few clues that doctors can use to determine longevity in a patient.

"Remaining years of life vary widely in older adults, and physicians should consider life expectancy when assessing goals of care and treatment plans," wrote the authors of the study, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "However, life expectancy based on age and sex alone provides limited information because survival is also influenced by health and functional abilities."

The data the researchers used was collected between 1986 and 2000; the 34,485 participants were 65 or older, with an average age of 73.5. Most were white women.

Information on the subjects' walking speed and gait was gathered at the beginning of the project and followed up on for six to 21 years thereafter. The seniors' walking pace was calculated using distance in meters and time in seconds and had participants starting in a standing position then walking at their usual speeds. The average pace was 0.92 meters, or three feet, per second.

During the course of the study, 17,528 people died, though the five-year survival rate was high -- about 85 percent -- and the 10-year survival rate was almost 60 percent. What the researchers learned was that gait speed seemed to be related to how long people lived at all ages and among both sexes in the participant pool.

The link seemed particularly strong, they said, after age 75. They said the 10-year survival rate was as high as 87 percent among men and 91 percent among women who walked briskly, while it was only 19 percent for the most slow-moving men and 35 percent for the most sluggish women.
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posted November 1st, 2011 5:15 am by WFC staff

100,000 Steps Challenge for the month of November

November 100,000 Steps Challenge
Time to lace up those sneakers, and make some strides towards optimum health. Walk Franklin County challenges you to increase your step count by 100,000 during the month of November.
If you are not a regular user of WalkFranklinCounty.org, now is the time to get started! If you are a regular user -  keep going! Log your steps/activity during the month of November. Remember you can convert any physical  activity to “steps” by using the conversion chart on the log in page. Those who reach 100,000 steps will be able to claim their choice of prizes.
The prizes are as follows:
For those who are non members, Walk Franklin County is offering your choice of either a one week group exercise class pass, a two week walking pass in the YMCA gym during off peak hours, or finally, two day passes for you to use as you choose.
For those who are Y members and accomplish the 100,000 steps challenge, we have the following prizes. Depending on your current membership, a two week Silver/Gold Membership to give to a friend or family member. A one month free locker rental (Gold Members only). Two free weeks of water fitness classes in December (classes not at full capacity) And finally, if you are a Silver Member and you reach 100,000 steps, you could choose two weeks of access to the sauna (women) or steam room (men) in the Gold locker rooms.
Pick any one prize for your efforts of taking the challenge and meeting the goal!
Keep in mind that any type of activity, be it walking, biking, raking leaves or cleaning your house will count. By using the exercise conversion chart on the Walk Franklin County website, you can quickly calculate your steps in seconds! You can log your steps online each day or record them on paper and enter them on the website once or twice a month. The YMCA has tracking booklets available at the Welcome Center. So take the challenge and reap the benefits of a healthier you, and collect a prize for your efforts.
It’s that simple!
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posted October 26th, 2011 5:26 am

Brrr! Cold weather walking tips!

Exercise and cold weather: Tips to stay safe outdoors

Dressing in layers, protecting your hands and feet, and paying attention to the forecast can help you stay safe and warm while exercising outdoors in cold weather.

By Mayo Clinic staff

So you don't like grinding out miles on the treadmill or power walking the malls, but you dread exercising during cold weather. Unfortunately, cold weather can discourage even the most motivated exercisers. And if you're not so motivated, it's all too easy to pack away your workout gear along with your warm-weather clothing.

You don't have to let cold weather spell the end of your exercise. With these tips for exercising during cold weather, you can stay fit, motivated and warm when the weather turns chilly.

Stay safe during cold-weather exercise

Almost everyone can exercise safely during cold weather. But if you have certain conditions, such as asthma, heart problems or Raynaud's disease, check with your doctor before you work out in cold weather. Your doctor can review any special precautions you need based on your condition or medications you might take. The following tips can also help you stay safe — and warm — while working out in the cold.

Dress in layers

One of the biggest mistakes you can make while exercising in cold weather is to dress too warmly. Exercise generates a considerable amount of heat — enough to make you feel like it's much warmer than it really is. Yet, once your sweat starts to dry, you can get chilled. The solution?

Dress in layers that you can remove as soon as you start to sweat and then put back on as needed. First, put on a thin layer of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, which draws sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin. Next, add a layer of fleece or wool for insulation. Top this with a waterproof, breathable outer layer. A heavy down jacket or vest may cause you to overheat if you're exercising hard. If you're lean, you may need more insulation than someone who is heavier. If it's very cold, consider wearing a face mask or scarf to warm the air before it enters your lungs.

You may need to experiment before you find a combination of clothing that works well for you based on your exercise intensity. Keep in mind, too, that stop-and-go activities, such as mixing walking with running, can make you more vulnerable to the cold if you repeatedly work up a sweat and then get chilly.

Protect your hands, feet and ears

When it's cold, blood flow is concentrated on your body's core, leaving your hands and feet vulnerable to frostbite. Try wearing a thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens lined with wool or fleece. Don the mittens or gloves before your hands become cold and then remove them if your hands begin to sweat.

Considering buying exercise shoes a half-size or one size larger than usual to allow for thick thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks. And don't forget a hat or headband to protect your ears, which also are vulnerable to frostbite.

Pay attention to weather conditions and wind chill

Exercising when it's cold and raining can make you more vulnerable to the cold. If you get soaked, you may not be able to keep your core body temperature high enough, and layering won't help if your clothes are wet. If it's extremely cold, you may need to take your exercise indoors or skip it for a day or two.

Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe even if you dress warmly. The wind can penetrate your clothes and remove the insulating layer of warm air that surrounds your body, and any exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite.

If the temperature dips well below 0 F (-17.8 C) or the wind chill is extreme, consider taking a break or choosing an indoor activity instead, or take extra precautions if you choose to exercise outdoors anyway.

Choose appropriate gear

If it's dark when you exercise outside, wear reflective clothing. To stay steady on your feet, choose footwear with enough traction to prevent falls, especially if it's icy or snowy. Wear a helmet while skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. Consider using chemical heat packs to warm up your hands or feet.
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posted October 20th, 2011 2:41 am

Walking those hills

Walking more downhill or more uphill in an exercise routine can have a differing effect on whether a person is more likely to improve levels of fats in their blood or improve sugar levels in the blood, according to a small but intriguing study presented recently at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions.

All walking is beneficial for improving lipid problems and glucose metabolism.

But Austrian researchers, who put a group of 45 sedentary volunteers on both uphill and downhill mountain hiking routines, found a difference depending on which direction they were hiking.

The volunteers participated in a four-month hiking program in the mountains of Austria, two months of downhill walking for about an hour, three to five times a week, and two months of uphill walking.

A cable car was used to return them to the start of their hike.

If the research is verified by larger studies, it could mean that people might be able to better tailor their exercise to their health status.

"It's an interesting early study," said Sidney Smith, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Science and Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Smith, who was not associated with the study, said ultimately the finding could be of special interest to people with diabetes.

But the study also raised a few issues, he said.

"It begs the question about walking on level ground," he said.

While the study did not look at that, numerous studies have showed that walking is beneficial to health.

For hill walking, the researchers noted, you don't have to live in a mountainous area to benefit.

People can walk up or down stairs, said lead author Heinz Drexel, a physician at the Academic Teaching Hospital Feldkirch, Austria. They also could adjust the incline on a treadmill, he said.

"Exercise is good for the heart because it's good for lipids and glucose metabolism," Drexel said. "We tried to distinguish between hiking up a mountain and down a mountain."

The hiking course covered about 2,000 feet of elevation in about an hour of walking.

The study found that downhill walking did a better job of improving glucose tolerance, which is a measure of how well a person is able to move glucose out of the blood and into the cells of the body.

People who are glucose-intolerant are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Downhill walking improved their glucose tolerance by 8.2 percent, compared with a 4.5 percent improvement with uphill walking.

However, people who have lipid problems, especially high amounts of triglycerides, might want to consider uphill walking. Triglycerides are a type of unhealthy fat found in the blood.

While uphill walking, the test subjects lowered their triglycerides by 11 percent, compared with 6.8 percent while downhill walking.

Researchers are not sure what causes the differences. Intensity was not believed to be a factor because the hikers used heart monitors to stay within a prescribed heart rate zone.

Researchers think the difference may have something to do with the use of more concentric muscle activity while going uphill and more eccentric activity going downhill.
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posted October 6th, 2011 4:17 am by WFC staff

Just Breath

Walking is instinctive to the human species. The act of walking is as natural as breathing. However, proper walking technique requires more than putting one foot in front of the other. Gaining the full benefits from walking requires breathing properly as well. This is true whether you're walking for pleasure, for fitness or to relieve stress.
Walking and Breathing

Practice deep breathing when you perform any type of exercise, including walking, the American Lung Association recommends. Breathe in to a count of two, and breathe out to a count of four. Breathing through your nose filters dust particles from the air and helps to maintain the proper balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, Healthy Place explains.

When you're walking at a moderate pace of 3.5 mph, you should feel slightly breathless but able to speak in full sentences. When walking at a brisk pace of 3.75 mph, you should feel somewhat more breathless with conversation limited to short sentences. Power walking at 4 mph and faster will make you feel quite breathless and able only to speak a few words at a time, according to "Prevention" magazine.

Breathwalk Meditation

Energize your stride with breathwalk meditation. Breathwalk combines synchronized breathing with walking and directed meditation, according to Methodist Healthcare, administered by San Antonio's Health Information Resources. Breathwalk offers many benefits, including weight loss, decreased anxiety and reduced back pain. In a report published by the "World Journal of Gastroenterology" in 2007, M Vazquez-Vandyck and colleagues found that breathwalk techniques had a beneficial effect for patients suffering from hepatitis C, obesity and insulin resistance

Begin a breathwalk meditation session by walking at a normal pace and concentrating on breathing through the diaphragm, "Yoga International" magazine instructs. Coordinate your breathing so that you inhale with four steps, then exhale with four steps. Continue for at least one minute. Inhale through your nose with four short puffs coordinated with four steps, taking in more air each time until your lungs are full. Then exhale using the same process. Continue the cycle for 5 minutes, then take a break for 3 minutes to breathe normally and walk at a regular pace. Repeat the 8 minute pattern again, this time adding the silent mantra "Sa Ta Na Ma" while you inhale and whispering the mantra "Wah Hay Gu Roo" when you exhale.
Pursed Lip Breathing

Practice "pursed lip breathing" to maximize using your diaphragm while breathing, the American Lung Association advises. Relax and drop your shoulders. Breathe in through your nose. Pucker your lips as if you were whistling, then breathe out slowly. The breathing out motion should take approximately twice as long as breathing in. Your abdomen should expand when you inhale and deflate when you exhale with little or no movement in your chest, Healthy Place states. Practice the exercise first lying down, then gradually work your way toward being able to perform pursed lip breathing while you walk.

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