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April 2005 Newsletter

Walking for Road Warriors


Dear Fellow Business Traveler,


The overwhelming response to last month's survey topic on walking once again highlighted the popularity of this great fitness activity.

In this month's article, we discuss proper shoe fit, how to set and achieve your walking goal, and how to walk smart. But first, let's take a look at the survey responses to see what the group is up to...

Survey Responses

How frequently do you walk for exercise?
Three to five times per week is by far the most popular frequency in the group. Awesome!
How long is your typical walk?
Most of you are walking for 30 to 60 minutes. That's outstanding! If you're walking 60 minutes, three to fives times per week, you're hitting the government's recommendation for activity.
Do you own a pedometer?
The crowd is in a dead heat on this one. About half of you have invested in a pedometer to track your walking activity. Read on for more on the usefulness of pedometers.

Reader Tips

Many of you sent us great walking tips and tidbits, such as:
  • Listen to books on tape while you walk. It's a great way to avoid boredom and to catch up on your "reading."
  • Proper posture makes walking easy. Abs tight, shoulders back, and ears over your shoulders!
  • Try alternating fast and slow intervals while walking. Interval training can help increase your speed and indurance faster than basic training, and will burn more calories.
  • For an added challenge, try hand or ankle weights.
  • Walk with a buddy for fun.
Read on to find out how to start your walking program.


As always, there's plenty of new activity in the Travel Fitness Blog, including Travel Fit Tips and news releases from your favorite hotels and airlines.

To Your Health,
Customer Service, Healthy Travel Network and Chief Fitness Officer



squareWalk Your Way to Fitness


Walking is a fabulous and fabulously easy way to get your exercise. It's a great way to get in shape and stay in shape, whether you're on the road or at home. I like walking for a variety of reasons:
  • It's easier on the joints and muscles than running. As a result, it's more fun, and you'll recover faster and be less prone to injuries.
  • Other than a good pair of shoes, walking doesn't require any special equipment or clothing.
  • Anyone at any fitness level can participate, as opposed to running or other strenuous activities, which require a minimum fitness level for beginners.
  • Walking can be done in short bursts; for example, in between client meetings, after dinner, or while you wait for your connecting flight.
  • When it's cold out, I don't mind walking while bundled up (versus running, which is cumbersome if you have to wear a lot of clothes).
  • When it's hot out, I can walk without getting as sweaty as when I am running, hopefully negating the need to take a second shower during an already busy travel day.
  • I get to see the sights in the town that I'm visiting.
  • Although we should all have warm-ups and stretching as a part of our regular workout routine, I know the realities of traveling often dictate cutting things short. Unlike running, walking requires only minimal warm-up and cool-down.
  • Unlike when I’m working out in the hotel gym, I can’t be tracked down by coworkers while I'm walking!
  • I can multitask while walking, which is tough with other forms of exercise. (See sidebar for interesting ways to maximize your walking time.)
And, finally:

Walking for 30 minutes at a 4 mph pace burns about 100 calories per 100 pounds of body weight. Not too shabby!


squareStarting with the Proper Fit


Walking requires a single but extremely important piece of equipment: good shoes. Wearing shoes that don’t fit or don’t properly support your feet can result in almost immediate injury, resulting not only in discomfort and pain, but also discouraging you from achieving your goals.

The definition of a good shoe is one that fits you, not necessarily one that’s expensive.

Skip the trendy stores in the mall and seek out a running shoe store staffed by professionally trained shoe fitters. Plan on spending 30 minutes or more in your shoe fitting and selection expedition, allowing the fitter to properly assess your stance, foot strike, gait, and wear pattern, and giving you ample time to try on as many pairs as possible.

Take an old pair of sneakers with you, so that the fitter can assess your wear pattern. The fitter should also look at you standing in bare feet to determine whether you have low, medium, or high arches. Finally, the fitter should also watch you walk and run in bare feet. All of these assessments help determine your specific shoe needs. If your shoe fitter isn’t looking at these things, find another store.

Everyone’s feet should pronate naturally, rolling from the outside heel to the inside toe. Those of us with flat arches (whose shoes show wear on the inner section of the toe box) over-pronate, meaning that our feet roll too much. We need strong, stabilizing shoes that help prevent over-pronation.
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Submitted by another Healthy Traveler.



Maximize Your Productivity
Pressed for time? Multitask while you walk:

:: Take your cell phone and call home to chat with friends and family.

:: Take a coworker (or two) with you and have a meeting or brainstorming session.

:: Use your walking time as "think time" to noodle on an important problem or mentally rehearse for a presentation or speech.

:: Check your voice mail and return messages. Stick with voice mail only; Leave the email until after your walk, or you may trip over a curb!

:: Hold a conference call from your cell phone.

Walkers with high arches (whose shoes show wear on the outer section of the heel) supinate; their feet don’t roll enough. Supinators need very flexible shoes, to encourage their feet to pronate further.

Another way to determine if you have high or low arches is with the "wet foot" test. Put a couple of newspaper pages or other paper on the floor. Wet the bottom of your bare foot, and step onto the paper. If the wet area on the paper is just around the outer edge of your foot, you have high arches; your arches never touched the paper. If you get a big, wet blob like I do, you have flat arches.
Travel Fitness :: Normal Foot Pattern Travel Fitness :: High Arched Foot
Travel Fitness :: Flat Arch
Normal Foot
High Arch
Flat Arch

Other tips for a proper shoe fit:
  • Expect to wear a shoe that’s at least a full size larger than your street shoes. Look for plenty of room in the toe box area. Your toes should never, ever touch the end of the shoe.
  • Do your fitting at the end of the day, when your feet are swollen and tired.
  • When shopping, wear the same type of socks that you’ll wear when you exercise in the shoes.
  • Try on many pairs. Ask if you can walk around the block in each pair before making a decision.
  • Just because your friend says a particular model is fabulous doesn’t mean it will work for you.
  • Generally speaking, running shoes can also be worn as walking shoes. So, if you can't find a walking shoe, try on some running shoes.
  • Look for a store with a liberal return policy. Many will let you wear the shoes inside for a few days, to make sure they fit well.
  • If you’ve exhausted all of the shoe possibilities and are still having trouble finding a good fit, ask your fitter about different lacing techniques such as bunny ears to prevent heel slippage, or lacing for wide feet.
  • Don’t expect to go out for a five-mile walk in your new shoes. Ease into it, to make sure they fit correctly.
Finally, remember that this decision is about function not fashion. Buy the pair that fits the best, not the one that’s the most trendy.


squareSetting and Achieving Your Walking Goal


You’ve got your shoes… now what?

Many experts recommend targeting 10,000 steps per day as a realistic goal. Although the distance that you’ll walk in 10,000 steps will vary based on your stride length, 10,000 steps equates to about five miles for most of us, which is right on target with the government’s recommendation for 60 minutes of exercise per day.

An inexpensive pedometer will help you track your steps. You’ll find plenty of models in the $15 to $25 price range at your localTravel Fitness :: Pedometer sporting goods store or on the Internet. Look for a comfortable, lightweight model. Consider getting a model with a clock so that you can avoid missing your client meeting!

Wear your pedometer for a few days to monitor your baseline steps per day. If you’re like me, you’ll be disappointed to see how few steps you take during a normal workday. Don’t be discouraged, however. There are plenty of easy ways to increase your normal steps per day, so that you won’t have to devote substantial time to your new program. Fortunately, when you’re traveling, you tend to get more walking time by trudging through airports, hotels, and offices, making it even easier to reach your goal.

Obviously your results may vary, perhaps quite substantially, but I spent a few weeks tracking my steps for some common travel activities; I have also suggested ways that you easily increase your daily steps.

Activity
Steps
Comments
Typical day in the office
2,000

From home to your gate at the airport
800
Stop looking for the dream spot and start maximizing your steps by parking at the far end of the lot.
Full day's travel
5,000 to 6,000
Skip the people mover!
From the parking lot to your hotel room
500

Going to multiple customer meetings
2,000
Wow!
To lunch or dinner
500
Turn lunchtime into exercise time by parking at the far end of the parking lot!
Walking for 30 minutes
3,900
Wear your walking shoes and make use of your layover or flight delays.

Once you’ve determined your baseline steps per day, set a schedule for yourself to reach your goal of 10,000 steps. If you’re not exercising regularly, plan on increasing your steps by 150 to 250 per day (or roughly 10% of your baseline). Folks already exercising three or more times per week can plan a more aggressive schedule and target a 300 to 400 step increase per day.

For example, if your baseline is 2,500 steps, you’ll need about 30 days to reach your 10,000 steps goal. If your goal is more than 30 days away, consider setting incremental goals at 5,000 and 7,500 steps.

Use Healthy Travel Network’s handy goal setting worksheet and tracking log to monitor your progress.


squareWalking Smart


Although walking is simple and easy, you still need to remember a few basic “dos” and “don’ts.” Life’s short, so be smart and follow these pointers.
  • Don’t walk after dark.
  • Don’t walk in high-crime areas.
  • Don’t walk in sparsely populated areas.
  • Don’t walk on the road or highway.
  • Do ask at the hotel for a decent route to follow.
  • Do use the buddy system if you are walking early in the morning or at dusk.
  • Do drop an email or voice mail to a friend, stating your route and approximate return time.
  • Do carry identification, emergency contact information, several dollars, and preferably your cell phone. Check out www.roadid.com for convenient identification and emergency contact tags.
  • Do wear reflective clothing if walking early in the morning or at dusk. Look for easy-to-pack Velcro wrist or ankle bands.
  • Do dress in layers for cold weather, including a hat.
  • Do stay hydrated, drinking 8 ounces of water per hour. Always carry water with you, especially if it is over 50 degrees.
  • Do spend the first five minutes of your walk warming up, before kicking it into full gear.
  • Do cool down by stretching. Key areas to stretch are hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves. Visit the Healthy Travel Network Travel Fitness blog for stretching instructions.
Make regular walking part of your travel routine. Before you know it, you’ll be walking 10,000 steps per day, everyday!


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