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Born to Run-Walk?

"Wogging" Can Be a Step Toward Running, or a Workout All Its Own
WebMD Feature

We crawl before we learn to walk.

We wog before we learn to run.

Wog? That's right, W-O-G.

Wogging is a word used in some circles to describe a combination of walking and jogging, or walking and running. You may not have heard the term, but this way of exercising is far from new, fitness experts say.

"It's a catchword for what we all do," says Michael Hewitt, exercise physiologist and research director for exercise science at the Canyon Ranch spa in Tucson, Ariz. "We like to attach labels to things but if you look at any 8-year-old kid, they're wogging. They'll run for a while and then walk when they get tired, and then run again. Kids are smart, and kids wog."

So do adults who are trying to make a transition from walking to running.

Woggers, Hewitt tells WebMD, are people who want to be runners, but don't yet have the muscular endurance to run.

"It's what we've been teaching people for years and years," says Julie Isphording, former Olympic marathon runner and host of "FIT: Fitness Information Talk" and "On Your Feet," two popular health and fitness radio shows aired on National Public Radio in and around Cincinnati.

Isphording trains people to become runners by interspersing short bouts of running into their walking routines.

"Whenever you embark on a fitness program and you want to become a runner, you start by walking," says Isphording. "Then you set a goal, like from this stop sign to the next corner, I'm going to run. You keep building that until you're jogging."

Even some people in the fitness industry haven't heard the term "wogging," say Dave Sellers, "Ask the Experts" editor of Runner's World magazine, but all are familiar with the workout that intersperses walking with running. In fact, he says, there is a new segment of people who are running for fitness and camaraderie rather than to win races.

"These folks have helped to spur the tremendous growth in running (slowly) for fitness among late-blooming recreational exercisers," says Sellers.

There are great benefits to including a little running in your walking routine. Even adding a few minutes of running can help you burn more calories, build stronger bones and boost your fitness level, say the experts at Runner's World magazine.

"It offers an exerciser a way to increase intensity, reduce musculoskeletal joint stress associated with doing too much of any one repetitive motion, and create more challenge and variety to his or her workout," says Kathy Stevens, a Reebok master trainer and member of the board of certification and training for the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America.

It can also improve your cardiovascular fitness, by increasing your endurance.

"It's similar to interval training," says Hewitt. "By taking short little dips into that anaerobic (high-intensity) zone, you train the body to tolerate a higher level of respiratory challenge."

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