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Geared Up for a Half Marathon - and Forgot the Sunscreen

Saturday April 19, 2014

Wendy with Easter Bunny at Hop Hop Half MarathonSomething was nagging me as I drove to the local Hop Hop Half Marathon. I felt pretty good about preparing all of my gear the night before and being ready for race day. I was excited to wear all of my bright, bold and sparkly race gear for this fun Easter-themed half marathon. Last year it was a very sunny (but cold) day on the bike path alongside the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. This year the weather was a little warmer but overcast, with rain coming by afternoon.

As it turned out, I remembered the sunglasses but forgot to put on sunscreen. In fact, I forgot to put on my usual moisturizer that has SPF 25. I resorted to a tube in my car that outdated a year ago. Lesson learned - put fresh sunscreen in my car!
More: How to Train for a Half Marathon Walk

Everyone wears fun clothes and gear for this race, so here I am from head to toe, linked to my reviews.:

  • Bunny ears - I got these at the same race last year and they actually stay on my head and don't give me a headache. Maybe I'm more hare than tortoise?
  • RunPhones earband headphones.
  • My favorite discontinued cold-weather earwarming hat.
  • Marmot ultra lightweight waterproof jacket.
  • Not shown - cheap plastic rain poncho, which came into use when we had sideways rain after the first two hours on the course.
  • Urban Running Girl running shrug (since my shirt was short-sleeved)
  • Short-sleeved tech shirt from last year's Hop Hop Half Marathon
  • hipS-sister to carry my camera, snack, etc. Mine has 13.1 on it in rhinestones.
  • Sparkle Athletic pull-on sequined skirt
  • B-Skinz leggings (review sample provided by manufacturer)
  • Balega socks
  • Brooks Glycerin neutral cushioned shoes
  • Nike+ FuelBand SE
  • Fitbit One (review sample provided by manufacturer)
  • Milestone Pod (review sample provided by manufacturer)

Results - the leggings worked well even in the rainstorm, so I'm very pleased with that. I posted a good half marathon time, my first complete half marathon at race pace for 2014. I'm happy with all of my bling gear! And I burned off some of the Easter basket treats.
Easter Calorie Calculator: See how far you will need to walk to walk them off!

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Easter Basket Calorie Calculator

Thursday April 17, 2014

Easter BasketThose Peeps and jellybeans equal a lot of miles. Use the Easter Basket Calorie Calculator to total your Easter Basket calories and to convert those to steps, miles, and kilometers. Add as many items as you wish to your virtual Easter basket and see how far you must walk to walk off the chocolate bunnies and Cadbury eggs.

Photo: Wendy Bumgardner ©  (and, sadly, I ate everything in the photo before Easter...)

Got Foot Pain?

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Foot Pain"I'd like to walk, but my feet hurt," is one of the most common things I hear when I tell people about my walking life.  April is Foot Health Month. Foot pain comes in several varieties.

Heel pain and pain in the bottom of the foot are very common for both fitness walkers and the general public. Plantar fasciitis is pain in the bottom of your foot caused by inflammation of the fascia that runs from the ball of your foot to the heel. Some causes are overuse while wearing old shoes, overpronation, or overstriding. I once developed it immediately after slipping in mud on a walk through the tulip fields. Plantar fasciitis treatments include rest, icing, self-massage, stretches or wearing a night splint.

Heel spurs are related to plantar fasciitis and can develop in people who have a long bout of plantar fasciitis. It is something seen on x-ray but the pain itself is thought to come from the plantar fasciitis.

My chief form of foot pain comes from the bunion on my left foot. I am very choosy about my footwear, it can't irritate my bunion or I'd be in for weeks of foot pain. Shoes with a too-narrow toe box irritate my bunion. But I've also discovery that socks that fit too snugly can also be the culprit.

I also have flat feet, which aren't a problem unless a shoe has built-in arch support that is too high. But others with flat feet have pain and need help. Our Foot Health Expert has 5 things you can do for flat feet.

I was trying to wear a new shoe model that didn't irritate my bunion, but it had motion control elements that ended up giving me heel pain and knee pain. I'll be off on a new shoe shopping expedition soon.

Photo © Stockbyte / Getty Images

Stressing About Walking?

Saturday April 12, 2014

walkingApril is Stress Awareness Month. Taxes, allergy season, wondering what will become of your teen when she graduates this summer. There are oodles of things to stress about. Walking is often recommended as a stress-relieving activity. Get up, move, clear your mind. But I come from a family of worriers and I know how to turn even walking into something to worry about.

10 Stress-Causing Worries for Walkers: How many of these do you stress about?

More: Stress and Your Health

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Time for Walking Sandals!

Wednesday April 9, 2014

Cobb Hill Rev-Soothe SandalsIs it time to give your tootsies some air? Many walkers like walking in sandals, and here are my tips on finding the right sandals for walking and hiking.  Just as with your fitness walking shoes, you need to find sandals that fit right and give you the level of support and motion control you need. Flimsy sandals or ones that don't bend in the right places are just as bad for your feet as improper walking shoes.
Top Picks for Walking Sandals

I just bought a pair of Cobb Hill RevSoothe sandals (pictured), which have technology provided by New Balance athletic shoes. My feet said "Ahhhhhhhhh" from the moment I put them on, with lightweight cushioning yet good support for walking. Plus, each strap is adjustable and they don't rub me raw. I enjoy wearing sandals that look good at work and while traveling and yet still allow me to get in brisk walking workouts.
Compare Prices

I am not a fan of flip flops, particularly designs that don't have a heel strap. But I know many of you live in flip flops. Do your feet a favor and look for ones that provide enough structure and support for good walking.
Healthier Flip Flops - Tips and Picks

Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

Veins and Calves and Thighs Oh My!

Thursday April 3, 2014

Walking Legs in CaprisShorts weather is coming and my legs are not really suitable for public display. Alas, heredity and age have produced a patchwork of spider veins and a rough road of varicose veins. Did all of my walking through the years hurt or help? Dr. David Glass of the New York Vein Center dispels my misconceptions. And I found advice on how to cover up my problems from my fellow experts.
5 Facts You Need to Know About Veins and Exercise

When buying boots I realized that my calves don't fit into many designs. Did walking do that? Is there any way to change that? Hugo Rivera, author of body sculpting books and an ISSA trainer, busts the myths.
Does Walking Give You Big Calves?

Meanwhile, I hear the teen crowd is on a binge of trying to achieve a "thigh gap." What does walking do to your legs?
Could Walking Give You Big Legs?

The bottom line is that walking is good exercise for your health. Burning fat through moderately intense exercise will help your overall appearance and give you long, lean muscle and keep your blood circulating.

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Fixing the Fatal Flaw of Fitbit Force and Fitbit Flex

Thursday April 3, 2014

BitbeltWhen I reviewed the Fitbit Flex, I struggled every time to put it on securely. The band clasp has a nub to force through slots in the band, and it was very tough to do one-handed. Unless you are Lady Mary and have a maid dress you in the morning at Downton Abbey, it just wasn't worth the struggle. Now owners of the Flex and Fitbit Force (which has a similar band) are complaining that not only is it tough to close, but they are losing them when they fall off unobserved. I imagine sidewalks littered with flocks of fallen and forgotten Fitbits.

Now an entrepreneur has come up with a stylish solution - the Bitbelt. It's a simple silicone sleeve that you slide over the clasp to keep it secure. You can mix or match colors. They have sizes for the Force and other larger fitness bands and for the Flex and other smaller bands. Review: Bitbelt

Fitbit Force O-RingOur Heart Disease Expert, Dr. Richard Fogoros, sends this solution that will prevent losing your spendy Fitbit. Head to the hardware store or plumbing store and buy a pack of o-rings. The #41 o-ring is the right size for the Fitbit Force, but you'll need a smaller size for the Fitbit Flex. That should only cost a dollar or two and is cheap insurance for losing a fitness band that costs $99 - $129. Just slip it over the clasp to keep it secured. He says it is comfortable to wear and unobtrusive.

The Misfit Shine sportband solves this problem by having you thread the clasp first through a loop on the other band, so if it comes loose, that loop helps retain it. Fitbit might think about redesigning the band, or at least providing o-rings!

This won't solve the initial problem of not having a Mr. Bates or Mrs. O'Brien to assist you in putting it on in the first place each day. You'll have to figure that part out on your own.

More: 10 Things I Hate About My Pedometer

Photo © Dr. Richard Fogoros and Wendy Bumgardner

It's National Walking Day

Wednesday April 2, 2014

It's National Walking Day today, April 2, 2014.  Time to shake off winter, lace up your walking shoes and get walking.  The American Heart Association promotes this day to get you committed to walking for 30 minutes or more each day to reduce your health risks. You may hear of National Walking Day activities in your area or company.  You can also join in online at AHA with their National Walking Day Toolkits for individuals and organizations.

Happy National Walking Day

For 2014, they encourage you to take a photo of yourself enjoying walking and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #AHALaceUp. You can get tips and encouragement through their AmericanHeart Facebook page.

We have plenty of free walking plans and tools here as well.

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Spring Walks to Put the Spring Back in Your Step

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Tulip Fields in OregonAre you ready to shake off winter and enjoy walking outdoors again? You can celebrate Spring with these 10 Spring Walks You Need to Take. I have walking ideas to get you moving wherever you live.

After the long winter, your walking gear probably needs a refresh. What served you well on the treadmill might not work as well outside. Get ready for Spring walking weather with these 10 gear items for Spring walking.

If your feet are itchy for a road trip or vacation, start planning:

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Your Walking Shoes Are Built Wrong - Researcher Says

Friday March 28, 2014

OESH La Vida 2.0 ShoeDr. D. Casey Kerrigan says the athletic shoe industry has been getting it all wrong for decades. Rather than protecting your muscles and joints from strain, a built-up cushioned heel and arch support contribute to the twisting (torque) of your knee with each step. That in turn can lead to progression of osteoarthritis.

In an article in IEEE "The Race to Build a Better Shoe" (March, 2014) she lays out the evidence and points the way forward for the athletic shoe industry. The article has free access for a short period.

Here are the take-home points I verified with the author.

  • The impact force when you strike the ground is likely not the one that leads to more joint injury, yet that is what the cushioning elements of running and walking shoes have been engineered to reduce.
  • Walkers experience two major force peaks with each stride, the loading response and terminal stance force peak. These put the most strain on the joints (joint torque) which correlates with vulnerability to injury, especially the knee. Shoe cushioning generally addresses the impact force and not these forces. The cushioning materials themselves need to be developed that can do this. EVA foam used in most shoes won't do it. It has to be a sole that responds differentially side-to-side during a stride. This will take more research and development.
  • Any amount of heel height contributes to joint torque, so a minimal-to-zero heel to toe drop is preferred. Shoe manufacturers are responding to this finding and touting their low heel to toe drop.
  • Arch support is also a suspect for increasing coronal knee joint torque. Zero arch support might be better to reduce this strain.
  • The side-to-side cradle sole shape also increases coronal knee joint torques. But this is built into the construction of almost all athletic shoes. In order to make shoes flat side to side, the entire manufacturing process would need to be re-engineered.
  • Coronal knee joint torque can lead to  progression of osteoarthritis.

Dr. Kerrigan's OESH shoe lab is working on designs that will address these problems. These may lead to a complete revolution in how running and walking shoes are made. I wore one of their prototypes and reviewed them in 2012. They have now produced lightweight shoes incorporating the features her research showed to be desirable and provided me a pair to review.
Review - OESH La Vida v2.0 Shoes.

Does this mean you should start walking barefoot or switch to minimalist shoes? I would start with the advice I've given for two decades -- choose flat and flexible shoes, especially those that tout their minimal to zero heel-to-toe drop. If you wear heels most of the day, ease into wearing flat athletic shoes to give your muscles and tendons time to adjust. Build up your mileage slowly and steadily.
More: Will Minimalist Shoes Hurt You?

Photo © OESH

Source:
D. C. Kerrigan, J. L. Lelas, M. Bryant, J. Boxer, U. Della Croce, and P. O. Riley, "Moderate heeled shoes and knee joint torques relevant to the development and progression of knee ­osteoarthritis," Arch. Phys. Med. Rehabil., vol. 86, no. 5, pp. 871-875, May 2005.

It's Walk Anyway Day!

Thursday March 27, 2014

Walking in the rainMarch 26 is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. OK, I missed it by a little this year, but I declare TODAY to be Walk Anyway Day. A reader wrote me to say he's going to be walking this weekend even though the forecast is for rain and sleet. He'll walk anyway! He's been recently diagnosed with type II diabetes and knows how important exercise is for controlling blood sugar. He's not going to let a little weather get in his way.

We all have our walking excuses. But make your smile your umbrella and walk anyway!

What's Your Walking Excuse?

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner
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Fergie Duchess of York Loses 40 Pounds Nordic Walking

Monday March 24, 2014

Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York and Princess Beatrice March 13, 2014Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York has battled weight gain most of her life. She recently lost three stone (about 40 pounds) thanks to a diet and exercise regimen that included up to four hours a day of nordic walking - walking with fitness walking poles.
More: Nordic Walking Techniques and Poles

Compared with "normal" walking, walking with fitness walking poles burns up to 40% more calories per mile, plus you tone the upper body and abs while relieving strain on the hips, knees, and ankles. Even better, while burning more calories you feel the same or less exertion.

But you need to use nordic walking or exerstriding techniques properly to get the enhanced calorie burn and benefits. I see many people out walking with poles who are really just using them for stability. That's fine if that's what you want, but if you want to burn more calories, you need to learn the technique.
Step by Step Nordic Walking Technique
Before You Buy Walking Poles

Fergie is looking fantastic. Look at those great calves! Keep on walking, Duchess! Here's more on her transformation via the Daily Mail
Photo © Chris Jackson/Getty Images

8 Ways to Spring Clean Your Diet

Monday March 24, 2014

Fruit StandWhat you eat makes a difference, whether you want great sports nutrition or just want to lose weight. As Michael Pollan puts it in the book "In Defense of Food:" Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Spring Diet Clean-up Checklist

  • Visit a farmers market or take a small farm tour: See where your food comes from and explore what's available locally. In my area, farmers markets are opening for the season this weekend. Although the pickings will be slim (seedlings are just sprouting) I am excited to get back into the weekly habit of buying fresh local food, plants starts for my garden and flowers to brighten my porch and table. You can search for farmers markets, small farms and events in your area with LocalHarvest.org
  • Go Natural with Your Walking Snacks. Make your own trail mix from dried fruit and nuts. If you prefer a packaged bar for convenience, try these natural energy bars that feature short ingredient lists of whole foods rather than highly processed bars full of additives.
  • Eat Clean for a Week: Eating clean means eating foods that are as close as possible to their natural state. No added sugar, sodium, fats, artificial colors, flavorings or preservatives. Everything should be minimally processed, using only 100% whole grains. For drinks, stick with water, natural fruit juices and eliminate alcohol.
  • Add Super Foods to Your Diet: Foods that are naturally nutrient-dense and oxidant-rich are a great choice, rather than packaged foods that claim to have added them.
  • Go Vegetarian for a Day: While I am an omnivore, I could easily go vegan for a week cooking Indian food. If your meals are always meat-centered, break out and try cuisines that offer a wider variety of flavors that are plant-based.
  • Start a Food Diary for a reality check: If you log everything you eat, in just a few days you should be able to spot diet saboteurs and less-healthy food you could replace with something better for your body and waistline. Our free online Calorie Count is ideal for keeping a food diary that automatically calculates calories and nutrition and gives you a daily grade. Plus, it suggests tasty but healthier food to eat.
  • Walk of Life 10-Week Program: Join my free e-mail course that includes a healthy recipe and healthy eating tip each day, along with walking and exercise lessons and assignments. Walk more, Eat better. Feel fantastic.
  • Flush the "Herbal" Diet Pills: If you've been sucked in by ads touting all-natural fat dissolving weight loss pills, the best place for them is the trash. The FDA has a list of 72 weight loss pills that actually contain undeclared substances, including prescription drugs in high concentrations. If the pill worked and was safe, you can bet that "Big Pharma" would be marketing the heck out it - like Viagra! Herbal doesn't mean safe, especially when the vendors are lying about what is in it.

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Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

How Far Is It Walking Around a Track?

Sunday March 23, 2014

Running TrackA standard outdoors high school track is 1/4 mile in the inner lane, or 440 yards or 400 meters. But a reader likes to walk the outside lane - how far around is that? A quick search found the Track Calculator by the North American Racewalking Foundation. With a couple basic facts you can find out the distance and pace of your laps in any lane.

I see many walkers out walking tracks at their local schools. It can be a safe way to get in your mileage. Restrooms and water fountains are often readily available. You can keep count of your laps. Track walking also is an easy way to do intervals and speed workouts -- speed up to your fastest pace on the straight-aways and then slow to an easy pace on the curved ends.

More:
How Far Is That? Miles and Kilometers Conversions
Pace Calculator
Calorie and Distance Calculator

Photo © Photo and Co/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Spring Walking Wardrobe Time

Friday March 21, 2014

Urban Running Girl ShrugTime to start thinking about short sleeved tops and shorts. Open up your dresser drawers and check on your stowed-away gear. First, give the armpits a sniff. If they lack "freshness," try my secret recipe for getting body odor out of exercise shirts. Is it time to retire some of the old gear, or just get yourself motivated with some new walking outfits? Here are my choices:

I added a new piece to my spring walking wardrobe - a running shrug from Urban Running Girl. It adds long sleeves to any walking outfit and you can easily take it off and tie it around your waist as a belt without the flapping bulk of a jacket or shirt.
Review: Why You Need a Running Shrug

Reebok ZQuick ShoesNew shoes are a great way to get yourself moving. I got a review sample pair of neon pink/orange Reebok ZQuick shoes and they certainly put some pep in my pace! They have other great colors, such as violet, gray/violet or even basic black.
Review: Reebok ZQuick Shoes

Wondering if you need new shoes? If it's been since summer, you are probably overdue!
Signs Your Shoes are Dead

Photos © Wendy Bumgardner

You Need a Spring Walking Tune-up

Thursday March 20, 2014

Ah, spring is so welcome. Longer days, warmer weather. Get ready to make the most of it, and think ahead for the shorts and swimsuits...

And while you're tuning things up, what about your walking tunes? I'm definitely adding some new ones to my playlist, like Pharrell's "Happy"

Photo: © Wendy Bumgardner

Get a Full Body Workout with Nordic Walking

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Nordic walking uses fitness walking poles to turn your regular walking into a full body workout. It tones your upper body as well as your lower body. As a bonus, you burn more calories per mile yet feel like you are not exerting yourself any more than usual. I enjoy nordic walking as the poles also relieve strain on the hips, knees, and ankles. Plus, walking with poles is fun!
Nordic Walking - Step by Step
Top Picks for Nordic Walking Poles

There are other walking pole techniques. Exerstriding uses the poles in a different way, and can be done with poles that don't have the demi-glove or strap required for the nordic walking technique.

I see many walkers out using poles with more of a hiking pole technique, primarily for stability rather than getting a better walking workout. I use them in that way for walking on natural trails.

Our nordic walking models in the photo have great walking pedigrees. On the left is Pam Granata from Walk About Magazine. Center is Judy Heller, author of our racewalking tutorial and walking coach with Wonders of Walking. On the right is Tyler Burgess, walking coach and walking tour director of Walk-With-Me.

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Friends Don't Let Friends Walk Drunk

Monday March 17, 2014

Dog Dyed Green for St. Patrick's DayIf you're seeing green dogs and pink elephants, it may be as dangerous for you to walk home as to drive. St. Patrick's Day is often associated with drinking, and many of you may partake. Forty percent of all pedestrians killed by an automobile collision had been drinking, according to one study. You are less likely to follow common sense pedestrian safety rules after a few drinks. I gave a TV news interview a last year on pedestrian safety, as we had a rash of crashes and tragedies in our local area. Unfortunately, those have continued.
10 Ways to Die When Walking After Dark

Don't be a statistic. If you are going to imbibe and walk, you may need a designated sober walking companion as much as you would want a designated sober driver. If you're celebrating St. Patrick's Day, it's a great excuse to wear flashing lights, reflective gear and bright, light colors so you will be seen if you are crossing the street.

Shamrock Run Green Wigs and Tutus

Also think twice about dyeing your pet green for the holiday. Even if you use Kool-Aid or food coloring, you'll attract some haters as well as those who think it's cute. I spied this poodle on a walk last year. I don't endorse doing this, or any pet costuming. None of my pets would have stood still for it. Instead, go green yourself, like these walkers and runners at our local Shamrock Run.
Sparkly and Fun Gear for Races

Photos © Wendy Bumgardner

Do You Walk Before Breakfast?

Sunday March 16, 2014

Bear Naked Honey Almond Protein GranolaPersonally, I have to eat something in the morning before walking or I get nauseated. What Should You Eat Before a Morning Walk?

It's important for me to get protein with my breakfast. Often that comes in the form of eggs, but I have friends who hate eggs. Also, they take time to cook (and require cooking -- something many of us avoid.)

One simple breakfast is granola mixed with yogurt. I got a sample of the Bear Naked Honey Almond 100% Natural Granola (Compare Prices) to try. I was tempted by it's profile of 10 grams protein, 12 grams carbs, 7 grams fat per 1/4 cup serving. I find that I need protein for breakfast or I bonk. Before my long walks the past three weekends, I mixed it with a natural, unflavored yogurt and a spoonful of homemade jam. It did a good job of fueling me. I didn't need to resort to the granola-and-nut bar I was carrying in case I got hungry on my two-to-three hour walks. I also liked the way it stayed crunchy when mixed with the yogurt.

Christina asked in our Forum, "What's your experiences of walking before breakfast? We've all heard that early morning walking before breakfast are supposed to be more efficient from fat burning point of view, but personally I feel wobbly when walking the first thing I do in the morning. I do try once in a while, but I don't seem to have any stamina whatsoever, and the pace is turtle-ish. 40 minutes after breakfast I'm ready to walk anywhere at a brisk, steady pace!" Discussion: Do you walk before breakfast?

Photo © Bear Naked
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

How Far Is That?

Friday March 14, 2014

Mile 13 on a half marathonHave you been invited to join in a 5K walk and wonder how long that will take you to do? Are you hazy on just how far a half marathon or marathon is? Here are my charts for how far these common distance events are and how long it will take to walk them at various paces.
How Far Is That?  Kilometers and Miles

Then you can get into the numbers more precisely with these calculators and apps:

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

5K for Pi Day - 3.14

Wednesday March 12, 2014

Walk 3.1 miles (5K) on Pi Day. March 14 is known in some circles (wink, wink) as Pi Day. In American date notation, it's 3.14, which are the first three digits of pi, the constant that is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Pi Day is also Albert Einstein's birthday.

PieFive kilometers is 3.1 miles, a perfect distance to walk for Pi Day, and it should take you an hour or less. How Far Is That?

Plan a circular walk on Pi Day. If you need to split it up into three walks of a mile each, that's great, too.  You can use an online mapping app to draw it and measure it at the same time.

Be careful on rewarding yourself with pie for walking a pi-length walk. You will only have burned enough calories for a small piece of pie, with no ice cream! Walking Calorie Calculator

I dare say that most of your walks are circular, or square, or some sort of closed shape, unless you are walking to and from work, the bus, train, etc. Then, I suppose they are just linear.

Does 3.1 miles sound too far to walk? Then use our plan to train for a 5K walk.

Bonus points for listening to The Life of Pi as you walk, one of my favorite audiobooks (and I think it should have won the Oscar for Best Picture, too!)

And once you're done walking, grab the kids and enjoy some math activities around the house.

Photo © Thomas Northcut - Photodisc / Getty Images

Glowing and Flashing Walking in the Dark

Wednesday March 12, 2014

PowerspurzMy manicurist was moaning about how it's too dark in the morning since we switched to Daylight Saving Time. Whether you're out walking the dog before dawn or you are getting in some morning miles, you need to think about safety. We've had a terrible epidemic of pedestrians hit and killed. Often they were in the right place -- the crosswalk -- but motorists weren't watching out for them. You need to give them every chance to see you by wearing lights and reflective gear.

I got samples of fun (and functional) items from 4id.com that glow and flash. That can help keep you a little safer when you're out at dawn or dusk. From your feet -- Powerspurz, Powerstepz -- to Powerbudz in your ears -- these will brighten your walk. I added them to this list of Glowing and Blinking Walking Gear, which include LED shoelaces, hats and more.

As you plan your walks for the rest of the year, you may be thinking of entering a night race, such as the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll "Strip at Night" Marathon and Half Marathon. I walk that one most years and I've got my LED hair extensions ready! You may want to gear up for a midnight race, Neon Night Run, or an overnight relay. Get your glow on!

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

Photos © Wendy Bumgardner

Treadmill vs. Outdoors Walking

Monday March 10, 2014

CrocusWith the switch to Daylight Savings Time, you may be tempted to start walking outdoors again instead of on the treadmill. Is walking outdoors better than walking on the treadmill? They are a bit different. The motorized tread and lack of uneven surfaces, curbs, etc. slightly reduce your calories per mile on a treadmill. You can make that small difference up by adding as little as a 1% incline on the treadmill. However, outdoors walking offers far more variety of the surfaces and inclines that it is superior when you are training for an upcoming longer walking event. For one thing, most treadmills lack a downhill incline feature, so you never train your downhill muscles. And doing all of the step-ups to curbs and dodging other pedestrians and obstacles has a training effect. A treadmill is great for burning calories, but for real-world walking training, I still think nothing beats the real world outdoors.

Crocus Photo © Wendy Bumgardner 2005

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Thursday March 6, 2014

Basis Sleep AnalysisHappy Sleep Awareness Week. Are you fooling yourself that you get enough sleep for fitness, weight loss, and mental sharpness? Do you burn the candle at both ends and spend most of the day looking like Grumpy Cat?

More and more activity monitor pedometers are adding sleep-tracking functions. These include the popular Fitbit models and advanced newcomers such as the Basis Health Tracker watch. I compared them head to head - wearing four of them at a time and using an app each night for several nights. The Basis earned the top spot for having not only great details, but also rewarding you for developing healthy sleep habits.
Sleep-Tracking Activity Monitors and Apps

Postmenopausal women should workout for a half hour each morning to get the best sleep at night, according to a study. I know I usually sleep better on days when I've had more exercise. Tracking my sleep with a fitness monitor worked much like wearing a pedometer. I made myself stay in bed longer because I was tracking my sleep and didn't want it to show how little I was getting. If you track both your walking steps and your sleep, you may be able to reinforce that both are good for your well-being.

Screen Capture of Basis Health Tracker Sleep by Wendy Bumgardner

Turning Walker-Unfriendly Race Fails into Wins

Monday March 3, 2014

15K MedalI decided to sign up for our local Fort Vancouver Run 15K when the race director  assured me that walkers were welcome. I'm familiar with the course -- it's one I often do on my own for training, so why not get a medal? The day was cold and the rain was at times semi-frozen. I had on my racing rain gear, covering up my race bib number. There were only a few true walkers in the 15K pack, so for most of the race I could see only some folks a few blocks ahead of me and behind me. No problem, I had my tunes and I put in a good racing pace.

The first water stop was unstaffed, so I self-served. No problem, I always wear a hydration pack because I expect this sort of thing at the back of the pack. We joined in with the 10K route at mile four and I realized that somewhere the 15K was going to have to put in an extra mile.

But when I reached mile 7, there was a turn sign labeled 10K, but nothing for the 15K. I could see the race equipment van patrolling and realized that they were removing the 15K route markings ahead of me. To do the full 15K, I'd have to guess where it was supposed to go.

As I finally crossed the finish line and there was nobody handing out medals. I went to the nearby registration tent to ask about that and a friendly staffer said yes, indeed, I'd earned a medal and so I went back to the finish area and collected it.

Walkers and slower runners often encounter these sort of race fails, even when the organizers are trying to provide a good experience for every racer. Be prepared.
10 Race Fails for Walkers and Run/Walkers

I went onto the race's Facebook page and thanked the organizers. Yes, they failed me in a few ways. But it was a big win over staying at home on the couch whining about the gloomy day. I love the creative bottle-opener medal. I had a good workout and can add it all to my war stories.

But it isn't always the race organizers who are to blame. Avoid these 10 Race Mistakes for Walkers.

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner

Dealing with Plantar Fasciitis Foot Pain

Thursday February 27, 2014

Foot PainIt happens to walkers and would-be walkers alike. Does your foot hurt horribly when you first step out of bed in the morning or after sitting for awhile? You may have plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the ligament on the sole of your foot.

This condition is all too common, and a real show-stopper for walkers until it clears up. Dr. Lance D. Barry has been emailing me about his research that showed the best treatment for plantar fasciitis includes wearing a night splint. I'm a believer in that, it's a simple tactic to keep you from re-injuring the foot each morning. Find out more about what to do for plantar fasciitis.
Photo © Stockbyte / Getty Images

How to Safely Meet New Walking Friends

Tuesday February 25, 2014

WalkersIf you are looking for new walking friends, it is always good to play things as safe as if you are going on a blind date. One of my walking friends recently met a new walking partner, and she wisely took precautions to meet him in a safe place and have her other walking friends meet him and give their opinions as well. The result is that we now all have a new walking friend. Here are my precautions to take when meeting a new potential walking buddy.

Many walking clubs and informal walking groups are using Meetup.com to announce group walks. I joined in a few walks recently with a women's walking group. It's been fun, I walked on trails I wouldn't have explored on my own. I got razzed by my office buddies who thought Meetup sounded like a dating site. Not so! Check it out if you want to find others to walk with in your area.

Photo © Depositphotos

Fitbit Force Recalled for Skin Irritation Problems

Sunday February 23, 2014

Fitbit ForceThe CEO of Fitbit, James Park, announced a recall of all Fitbit Force pedometers on February 20, 2014. Purchasers will be able to claim a refund after returning their Force pedometers.

Purchasers can register for the refund via a dedicated page and they will receive a return kit. Once Fitbit receives the returned unit, they will issue a refund. They also have a hotline to call if you have questions 1-888-656-6381.

The recall is prompted by a small percentage of wearers having an allergic contact dermatitis outbreak at the point where the stainless surgical steel adapter is in contact with the skin on their wrists. It's likely that these people are sensitive to nickel. Fitbit will be redesigning its product.

The recall doesn't affect their other products. These include the wristband Fitbit Flex and the waistband Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip. Those pedometers do not have exposed metal as does the Force.

The Force has also been plagued with complaints that it is hard to keep the clasp securely closed. A redesign may cure that problem as well.  I've worn all of the models of Fitbit except for the Force. The One is still my go-to waistband pedometer.

Fitbit Force Recall Announcement

What should you do if you own a Force? You can continue to use it if you aren't having the skin irritation problem. If you decide to take the refund, you may either want to stick with the Fitbit line so you data history is continuous. Or, you may want to use your refund to purchase one of the other top wristband pedometers. If you've decided that a wristband isn't your thing, here are other options:
How to Choose a Pedometer

Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

Sitting Increases Risk of Disability

Sunday February 23, 2014

Senior Women Walking with DogI see many seniors out for their daily walk, which is great. But sitting during their other waking hours can increase their risk of disability after age 60. Every extra hour of sitting raises your risks, even if you get in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day. If you want to maintain an active, independent lifestyle into old age, stop sitting so much and try to keep lightly active more throughout the day.
More Ways Sitting is Killing You

A study looking at data from 2286 adults aged 60 or over who had their physical activity measured with an accelerometer pedometer. They also measured their ability or disability for their activities of daily living (ADL). Those are the basic tasks that include dressing, toileting, bathing, moving around your house, preparing food and feeding yourself.

The seniors studied spent an average of almost 9 hours/day being sedentary during waking hours, with  3.6% reporting ADL disability.  But even after they adjusted for health factors, income factors, and time spent in exercise, the odds of ADL disability were 46% greater for each daily hour spent sitting or otherwise sedentary. It was even worse for women, with each hour increasing the risk by 60%

The take-home: if you want to prevent needing a caregiver, stop sitting so much. Spend more time in light activities, moving around on your feet. Even a rocking chair takes a little activity compared to a recliner. Maybe that time I spend hunting for my reading glasses throughout the house is well spent?
10 Tips to Stop Sitting Still

I wear a pedometer that reminds me when I've been sitting too long and rewards me for moving each hour, the Nike FuelBand SE. Here are more apps and pedometers that have inactivity alerts.

Source:
Dorothy Dunlop, Jing Song, Emily Arnston, Pamela Semanik, Jungwha Lee, Rowland Chang, and Jennifer M. Hootman. "Sedentary Time in U.S. Older Adults Associated With Disability in Activities of Daily Living Independent of Physical Activity." Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Nov. 12, 2013. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2013-0311

Photo © Yellow Dog Productions / Photodisc

Hiking Sticks and Trekking Poles

Thursday February 20, 2014

The Stickery Walking SticksWhen walking in the woods and on trails, a hiking stick or a pair of trekking poles provides additional stability as well as a useful tool for sweeping aside spider webs, stray branches, and other impediments.

  • How to Make a Walking Stick: Don't want anything fancy? Here's how to make your own walking stick. But if you'd rather somebody else do it, take a look at what Les Smith carves at The Stickery (photo), with fun "old man of the mountain" or "wood spirit" designs.
  • Why Choose a Wooden Walking Stick vs. Metal? Sure, you can buy trekking poles at any outdoor store. Or you can pick up any old stick in the woods. But what are the reasons why you would choose wood vs. metal?
  • Single Hiking Stick: Top Picks: Well designed hiking poles and walking sticks, including telescoping and folding designs.
  • Trekking Poles: Top Picks: You can use these together for a good, stable hike, just like the adventure racers.

Photo © Les Smith - The Stickery

Lessons Learned When I Didn't Finish

Thursday February 20, 2014

Heart Breaker Half Marathon CourseEach time I walk a half marathon or marathon, I learn something new. I had a great walking day for the annual Heart Breaker Half Marathon, even though (spoiler alert) I decided it was wise to finish with nine miles total rather than go the full 13.1 mile course. I was DNF - Did Not Finish. Here's how I turned a DNF into a win. I didn't let the Heart Breaker break my heart.

Do you have a tale of your personal worst finish? Come share!

Other lessons: I remembered why my rain pants weren't the best half marathon choice as they stuck to my knees. Underneath, I was wearing snazzy B-Skinz compression shorts and purple Zensah compression leg sleeves, but just when I thought I'd strip off the rain pants, the wind turned cold and there was a spatter of rain. The evidence is still coming in as to whether or not compression socks help athletic performance and recovery. But at least the purple color helped complete my race costume, had I been ready to show them off.

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner 2014

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

The Top 10 Walks in the USA

Monday February 17, 2014

Silver Falls State ParkGetting cabin fever and ready to plan to get out and enjoy some of the great walks? The votes are in for our yearly top 10 walks in the USA. The walks were nominated by the avid walkers of AVA volkssport walking clubs, and they chose from among over 1800 walking routes their clubs have available. You can enjoy these walks most days of the year, and most are offered for free, although you may pay admission to the park or estate.

Top 10 Walks of 2013

How to Walk an AVA Year-Round Walk

Photo © Digital Vision / Getty Images

Fun Ways to Carry Your Walking Essentials

Sunday February 16, 2014

hipS-sisterThe iPhone and Android phones revolutionized what walkers carry with them. You don't need a separate iPod, camera, GPS, maps or guidebooks. But at the same time, fanny packs became a giant fashion no-no. If you don't want to wear a water-carrying waistpack or backpack, how do you carry your mobile phone and the other 10 essentials for walking you need? The little keypocket on many running shots and tights just won't handle it.

I tried out a couple of good new solutions. The hipS-sister has two zippered pockets and a drop-in pocket and is designed to be worn on your hips. It's fashion plus function. I feel a little bit disco wearing it, but it works. I even bought a Sparkle Sister version with 13.1 in rhinestones to wear on half marathons.

Meanwhile, the SPIbelt is a more unisex design. It's basically a minimalist fanny pack. Before you put anything into it, it is just a belt. But the pouch expands enough to carry your mobile phone, keys, ID, and energy snacks.

Some folks get good mileage out of an arm pouch, such as the Armpocket 20, which not only carries your smart phone so you can operate it through the clear plastic screen, but also has organizer pockets for your other essentials.

Here is my growing list of non-fanny pack solutions for carrying your walking essentials.

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

Take Your Loved Ones for a Walk!

Thursday February 13, 2014

Doggie in the window

Take your loved ones for a walk!
Show your love with a stroll together.
10 Things I Love About Walking

Photo © Wendy Bumgardner 2010

Dr. Weil 28-Day Walkabout Challenge in March

Tuesday February 11, 2014

Dr. Weil WalkaboutAre you ready to take a 28-day walking challenge? Join Dr. Andrew Weil's third annual Walkabout 28 day Quest for Good Health. It kicks off on March 3, 2014.

Sign the online pledge to walk 30 minutes each day through March and receive daily emails with fitness tips and healthy recipe ideas. You also get the chance to win weekly prizes and a grand prize trip to LA to train with celebrity trainer Juliet Kraska.
Sign Up for Walkabout 2014.

Dr. Andrew Weil and celebrity trainer Juliet Kraska are promoting Walkabout 2014. It is sponsored  by Vionic Footwear with Orthaheel Technology.

The Weil Rhythm Walker shoe was one of the finalists in our Walking Readers' Choice Awards, in the Comfort Shoe category.

Logo © Dr. Weil Integrative Footwear

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