Fitness: Simple Run/Walk Fitness for Busy People (cont.)

Moderator: Does running burn more calories than walking? Why or why not?

Ward: Running does burn more calories than walking, although walking can be intense if you are walking uphill. When you walk, you may notice that you hit a plateau, feel very comfortable with the workout, very little to add to the workout. Most people can do at least one to two minutes of running comfortably. And this will add to the calorie burning effect and also will enhance cardiovascular training.

Moderator: Does either running or walking burn more fat? Why?

Ward: Both activities burn fat, and when you are talking about body fat loss, what really matters is total calories burned. So you may burn 150 calories during a 30-minute walking workout, and a 30-minute running workout will burn 300 calories. It depends on body weight and pace. If you want to lose body fat, burn a lot of calories. Exercise more, and eat less.

Moderator: How does your program differ from most walking and/or running routines?

Ward: What I have noticed is that walking books and walking programs seem to steer people away from running, and running books seem to attempt to turn people into runners. I recommend people do both in order to keep it flexible. We all know that some days people don't feel great, but by training both ways, people do better. My program is focused on fitness and fun. The biggest difference is my half and my full marathon training programs are not traditional. Instead of building mileage, the emphasis is on three days a week with low mileage and a stronger on. My program is for bigger people. If people realize that it does not require a lot of time to train for a marathon, or a half marathon, more people would try it and seek the benefits of a light to moderate training program. Also, I want my clients to experience a new high, which is personal success that builds self-confidence.

Moderator: How many weeks would it take someone to prepare for a marathon on your program?

Ward: On my program, if someone is currently a non-exerciser, they would go through a six-week base training program to prepare them and get their bodies used to exercise. That would be followed by approximately six months of training which is a great way to just help yourself stick to exercise.

Moderator: How do you get non-runners to complete marathons?

Ward: First, by hooking them into the easy-based training program and making them believe that they can do it, what happens is each week they achieve a personal goal. Someone who didn't think they could run a mile is now running a mile. Then when they think they can't run two miles, they run. By taking small steps and being successful, it builds self-confidence. If someone says the words, "I can never do that," I say that "I challenge you to believe in yourself" and I will be the one to say "I told you so." Also, how do you know if you never try? You can only fail if you give up. It's amazing to see non-exercisers cross the finish line.

Moderator: Do you recommend your clients keeping a log or some sort of chart of their progress?

Ward: I do; if people keep a chart, it's usually more motivating because you can see your progress. I recommend that people keep their chart on the refrigerator, and it's motivating to fill in the blanks on the chart and see themselves changing and getting fit.

Moderator: And they might think twice before reaching for the ice cream! What about people who think a half or full marathon is impossible?

Ward: I show them they can be successful by taking small steps first. And, by being successful with each step, that takes them to the next step. And when they begin to experience amazing changes in their body and how quickly their body adapts, they become motivated. Also, I tell people they can walk the whole thing and still get a medal. So there's no pressure. I also encourage people to watch one of these events, actually experience the event to see what it's really like. That sometimes opens their eyes, because the TV coverage generally shows the elite runners, not the 70% ofwalkers and runners, who are all average people. Once people see that, hey, there's people out there that are overweight, that don't look like runners, their eyes are opened and it's encouraging to see that.

Moderator: What should people with chronic joint problems -- bad knees, ankles, backs, et cetera -- do to reduce the risk of injury?

Ward: Well first, take a very slow, gradual progression through this program, even modifying it to make it easier. It gives the joints time to adapt. I have had clients that begin the program with some moderate knee trouble, and once they slow down, their joints adapt more quickly than heart and lungs. So although the heart and lungs make people believe that they can go faster, I keep them at a slower pace. And by stressing the joints slowly and gradually, just like all other parts, they too, become stronger.

Moderator: What role does stretching play in fitness and exercise regimens?

Ward: Stretching is important, especially if you're doing this type of activity. I recommend people spend at least 15 minutes stretching after the program. Having flexible muscles help reduce injuries. Stretching for some people works well in the beginning, but again only if the muscles are already warm. For example, a person may start out with three minutes of walking, stop, pause and stretch, before continuing on. Most people do not stretch enough, especially runners. They end up with tight hip joints and sometimes injuries, so stretching is very important.

Moderator: Is this lack of stretching the major cause of runner's injuries?

Ward: I don't think it's the major cause. The bigger cause is muscle imbalances, which means if the calves are very strong and tight, and the shins are weak, you have an imbalance and that may cause pulling on the knees or ankles, and so I recommend that runners and walkers do not do calf-strengthening exercises. Sometimes an injury has to do with a person's running biomechanics and just their genetics. Many times that can be corrected through strength exercises, and that is very dependant upon each person.

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