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Walking for Cross-Training

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Walking, like running, is among the most democratic of activities; it's for people of all ages, of all levels of fitness. Like running, you can walk anywhere, at any time, in any season. And even if you are an elite-level runner, you can get a strong aerobic session from walking. Although walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it's nevertheless low impact and makes for a good activity when coming back from injury.

To get a decent workout, of course, you have to move fast enough to get your heart pumping. Just how fast, as with any activity, depends on what kind of shape you're in. For those in peak condition, this means really pumping your arms and striding fast. Hand weights can help get your heartrate up to about 60 percent of maximum. Hiking hills or mountain trails will do the same trick with the added bonus of great scenery. You don't have to go all-out, though. Even a moderate pace yields good health benefits.

For those willing to ignore the stares and occasional wisecracks of onlookers, there's also racewalking. The exaggerated motion of the hips in this activity may make you look a little odd, but the vigorous action and arm pumping makes for fast motion and a strong workout. A 12-minute per mile pace turns out similar aerobic benefits as running, and there's an added strengthening bonus, too. Racewalking strengthens muscles that go untouched by normal fitness walking and running. It works your quadriceps, abdominals, buttocks and arms.

Although walking shoes are available in stores, you might do better with running shoes which offer better cushioning and support.


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