Get Results with Fitness Walking
Easy-To-Do Exercise Brings a Bushel of Benefits
Why Fitness Walk? continued...
Anna Cottrill says she doubts she would be mobile today if she had not
insisted on her daily strolls. The 66-year-old has had osteoarthritis in her
lower spine since 1979, even once unable to take a step for six months. Her
ailment, however, hasn't flared up since she started her regular jaunts.
The Fort Worth, Texas, grandmother joined up with a walking group known as
the American Volkssport Association (AVA) and soon became highly involved with
the organization and its affiliates. She is now co-president of the Tarrant
County Walkers, and is second vice president of the Texas Volkssporting
Association. (For the unaware, volkssporting is a German-derived term
describing participation in sports such as walking, swimming, skiing,
snowshoeing, and biking. In Cottrill's case, the sport is obviously
As an active member of volkssporting groups, she and her husband have
traveled by foot in all 50 states, and are now working on traversing through
all the state capitals. They have met many friends through treks and have seen
people begin lifelong relationships.
Fitness walking "gives people purpose to get out and do something,"
says Cottrill. "It improves their health, it improves their blood pressure,
they can lose weight, and it just keeps them flexible."
Cottrill's observations correspond well with the scientific research on
physical activity. According to the AHA, vigorous activities that include brisk
walking and moderate activities that include walking for pleasure can help
reduce the following risk factors for heart disease:
- High blood pressure
- Obesity and overweight
- High levels of triglycerides
- Low levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol)
Additionally, Richard Stein, MD, AHA spokesman, says fitness walking is easy
to do and can achieve the same cardiovascular benefits as many forms of
"The heart is really a very nice organ," he says. "It really
doesn't know whether you're walking barefoot on the beach or you're in $4,000
Nike gear in a million-dollar treadmill."
Good forms of exercise supposedly include activities that burn fat, use
large muscle groups, or happen over long distances, particularly if there is no