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Quiz: Do You Know How to Walk Your Way to Fitness?

Quiz: Do You Know How to Walk Your Way to Fitness?

 

 

By Dana Sullivan

Walking is the most popular form of exercise in the United States. It's convenient (you can do it anywhere). It's inexpensive (the only investment you have to make is a pair of shoes). And it requires no special skills. Walking might not feel like a workout, but the health benefits can be huge. Circle the answers on this true-false quiz to find out how to walk your way to fitness.

1. Walking is good exercise, but it's unlikely to improve your cardiovascular fitness.

True

False

2. You'll burn more calories running a mile than you will walking a mile.

True

False

3. Walking can help prevent osteoporosis.

True

False

4. Holding hand weights is the best way to make a walking workout really count.

True

False

5. Walking requires special shoes.

True

False

6. It's not necessary to stretch before or after you walk.

True

False

7. Walking is so easy -- and the health benefits are so gradual -- that it's almost impossible to measure improvements in your overall fitness.

True

False

Answers

1. Walking is good exercise, but it's unlikely to improve your cardiovascular fitness.

The correct answer is: False

Beefing up the walking in your daily routine -- either by walking farther or faster -- pays big cardiovascular dividends. For best results, walk at a faster pace at least two or three times a week, for at least 20 minutes per session.

2. You'll burn more calories running a mile than you will by walking a mile.

The correct answer is: False

If you cover the same distance, you'll use up just as many calories walking as you would huffing and puffing and pounding your knees. Walking is an efficient calorie burner: A study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that walking at 5.5 miles per hour actually demanded more calories than running at the same speed -- a pace that feels lumbering when you're "running" but strenuous when you're walking.

3. Walking can help prevent osteoporosis.

The correct answer is: True

Any type of weight-bearing exercise stresses the bones so they work to maintain -- and can even increase -- their density. And walking fits the bill.

4. Holding hand weights is the best way to make a walking workout really count.

The correct answer is: False

Walkers have been debating the issue for years, but most experts now agree that holding weights is more likely to strain ligaments and muscles in your shoulders, elbows, and hands than to pay off in extra weight loss. If you were to carry a five-pound weight in each hand on a 30-minute walk, for instance, you'd burn a paltry ten more calories than you would if you walked without the weights. However, if you already follow a walking regimen and want to try weights for the muscle-toning benefits, get a brand designed specifically for walking, start out light (one pound per hand), and use them no more than twice a week.

5. Walking requires special shoes.

The correct answer is: True

Since walking feet strike the ground heel first, walkers need shoes with ample heel cushioning and stability. Walking shoes have a flexible and roomy forefoot area, so toes can spread during push-off. Many running shoes can also work well for walking. The key is finding a well-designed shoe that works with your foot mechanics.

6. It's not necessary to stretch before or after you walk.

The correct answer is: False

In a perfect world, you'd do some light stretching after a five-minute warm-up and then finish your workout with more intense stretching. If you only have time for one, stretch afterward since your muscles are more flexible and less prone to injury when they're warm. Focus on your hamstrings, hips, buttocks, quadriceps, calves, and lower back. Stretch until you feel resistance, not pain. And don't bounce (that movement tightens muscles). When tension surfaces during a stretch, hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds to allow your muscles to relax, and breathe deeply.

7. Walking is so easy -- and the health benefits are so gradual -- that it's almost impossible to measure improvements in your overall fitness.

The correct answer is: False

Time yourself as you walk one mile today and then again after you've been walking for exercise three times a week for six weeks. You should see your time shorten, a clear indication that you're getting fitter. Here's how to evaluate your overall aerobic fitness level:

Excellent = male, walks one mile in 10:12 or under

Excellent = female, walks one mile in 11:40 or under

Good = male, walks one mile in 10:13 - 11:42

Good = female, walks one mile in 11:41 - 13:08

Above average = male, walks one mile in 11:43 - 13:13

Above average = female, walks one mile in 13:09 - 14:36

Below average = male, walks one mile in 13:14 - 14:44

Below average = female, walks one mile in 14:37 - 16:04

Fair = male, walks one mile in 14:45 - 16:23

Fair = female, walks one mile in 16:05 - 17:31

Poor = male, walks one mile in 16:24 or more

Poor = female, walks one mile in 17:32 or more

References

A Dozen Ways to Improve Your Walking Workouts. UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. Walking and Your Feet. http://www.aapsm.org/walking.html

Last Updated: March 11, 2013

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