One of the simplest forms of exercise, walking requires no special equipment except our already attached legs–and a good pair of walking shoes. Hippocrates himself proclaimed “Walking is man’s best medicine.” We do it everyday. So why would we seriously consider walking as more than just a walk around the park?
Walk Aerobics: An indoor walk program that incorporates four simple walk steps, upper and lower body movements, and music that intensifies in speed (BPMs) as the class progresses.
As a professional dancer since the age of seven, I was dismayed when I joined the “50-something crowd” and recognized that I didn’t move quite the same way (and certainly not with as much flexibility) as I did when I was 30—even 40! I also took a look around and realized that many of my fellow boomers, male and female, were moving slower, experiencing more health issues, and becoming more and more reticent to join an exercise group where, and I quote, “Not only do I not understand what they’re doing, I am uncomfortable in a room full of 20-year-old body ‘beautifuls’. I just want to feel good, have fun, and age gracefully.”
Years ago, someone whose opinion I value highly told me “We can age, but we don’t have to grow old.” That comment rang true when I began to consider ways to not only help myself age with grace and health, but to help others do so as well.
Walk Aerobics and the health benefits it offers to young and old, no matter what the current fitness level, is one of the best ways to get and stay fit over the long term. You can’t do the program wrong, it is enjoyed in a non-threatening environment, and the program can be adapted as stamina and fitness levels grow. Students have reported lowered cholesterol levels, high blood pressure reduction, higher energy levels, and weight loss ranging anywhere from 10 to 105 pounds! The program has also benefitted patients needing therapy after surgery or living with restrictions that prohibit other forms of healthy exercise.
Of course, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Look around for a Walk Aerobics program near you and GET STARTED! Every walk class begins with a warm up and ends with a cool down. A beginner’s walk class is usually 30-minutes. In that time, you will walk approximately one- to two-miles. The BPM of the music will begin slowly (around 90-125 BPM); increase to approximately 140 BPM; then decrease in speed until the cool down. More advanced walk aerobic classes can walk 5 plus miles (over 8,000 steps!) in the course of one hour, with the music ranging from 125-160 BPM, before gradually returning to the slower pace and cool down. Classes are planned for students based upon their current fitness level and builds in complexity as fitness levels increase. Upper body movements complement the easy-to-follow walk steps and walk boosters can be added at more advanced levels. Twice-a-week classes are recommended, but once a week is fine, too. The important thing is to keep at it and keep walking!
Leslie Kerr is a former professional dancer, a certified Life Coach and Nutrition Coach (Spencer Institute), a certified Senior Fitness Coach and walk leader, and holds a Ph.D. in Exercise Fitness from Wilmington National University in Delaware. She is the owner of SecondActFitness LLC in Westport, Connecticut. Visit our website at www.secondactfitness.net.