alking can be an easy and fun way to stay fit, but sometimes we all need a little extra motivation and that's where Jillian Anderson, the Marshall Area YMCA wellness director, comes in.
She said the 'Y' has many programs to motivate people to get fit. Its latest promotion is the Community Wellness Walking Program. Participants walk in teams of three for "extra motivation with a friend, coworker or neighbor," Anderson said. Each participant will receive a free pedometer to use as a tracking device throughout the program.
The community goal is walking 2,000 miles - the equivalent of walking from Marshall to The Florida Keys, Fla. Each week a map located at the YMCA will be updated to show how far the community has walked.
From left, Cindy Rosa, Suzie Rosa, who is carrying Cody Rausch, and Pat Rosa sometimes do their walking indoors at the Marshall Area YMCA walking track. Pat Rosa noted that Suzie was getting an extra workout by carrying a 25-pound weight.
Anderson said walking is a low-impact exercise and it benefits bones and muscles, aids in weight management and is good for the heart and lungs. It also reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks and lowers the bad cholesterol and lowers stress levels. In addition, walking helps people sleep better and helps in brain function.
"You can do it in 10-minute bouts or a half hour at a time," she said. "Every step counts."
Anderson said "a minimum of 30 minutes a day of some sort of cardiovascular activity is recommended and it can go upwards of 60 minutes daily. It depends on where you start. You don't want to push it too hard."
Anderson said even with a low-impact activity such as walking, it is important to warm up, cool down and stretch.
A good pace is to do a mile in 15 minutes.
"You can feel that," she said.
The right shoes are "huge," she said. "It's important to find a shoe that is supportive for your feet. Everyone's foot is different."
"Most people walking for health or walking to lose weight should wear running shoes," Michael B. DeBrule, a Marshall podiatrist, said. "These shoes are designed to accommodate high forces -two to three times the body weight - and assist with forward propulsion. Walking shoes work well too, but most are really running shoes with a dressy looking upper. Trail shoes are recommended if you plan to walk someplace muddy or rocky like Camden Park."
DeBrule recommends testing the counter, or back of the shoe, to see if it would make a good running shoe.
"Start with the heel counter and squeeze it to make sure it is somewhat stiff." he said. "Next, grab the toe end of the shoe and flex the sole toward the heel. Ideally the shoe should flex just behind the toes in the ball of the foot. If the shoe flexes in the middle of the sole, put it back on the shelf. Also, try the shoe on before you buy it to make sure it feels comfortable - choose for comfort and not looks. Finally, consider shoe shopping in the late afternoon or the evening because feet swell throughout the day."
People should wear comfortable clothes as well, Anderson said and dress in layers so if it is cool starting out, they can remove layers as they warm up.
Cindy Rosa, the senior program director at the Marshall Area YMCA, and her sister Suzie Rosa, both of Lynd, and their mother, Pat Rosa of rural Marshall, are on a walking team. Though they usually don't get a chance to walk together because of their schedules, each one walks every day wearing a pedometer and turn in their steps weekly to the YMCA which are then converted to miles.
Living on a farm, Pat Rosa said she can easily get 5,000 to 6,000 steps in a day just by going about her normal day which includes walking to the mailbox and to and from the shed.
"I put my step counter on first thing in the morning," she said.
After the Community Wellness Walking program is done, the Get Into Fitness Today program will start.
"Our annual G.I.F.T. program starts Nov. 1," she said. "We focus on cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and nutrition. This program is probably our largest. In past years we've had as many as 400-plus people participate. It's not a 'Y' program but a community program so again, anyone can register.
"For $15 a person, they get information and prizes. It's a lot of fun. It's $55 for a family. We want to get the kids involved."