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How to get a real workout from walking

Minute 1: Is walking as good as running?

Cheering a child taking their first step celebrates one of the most basic human functions -- our ability to put one foot in front of the other without wobbling and falling over like a college kid on a Thursday night. We marvel at baby deer and giraffes who begin to walk within hours of birth. Yet, as adults, walking for exercise is sometimes seen as a consolation prize for those who don't run. It shouldn’t be that way, according to this new story: “The Worst Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Walking, Says Olympic Walker.” The story blows up stereotypes such as walking is only a workout if it exceeds 10,000 steps or that walking doesn’t provide the same benefits as running. Australian Olympic hopeful Jemima Montag also sings the praises of walking workouts in this recent piece: “The ten things you’ve got wrong about walking.” Montag highlights a few key takeaways like aiming for a quick 100 steps per minute instead of focusing on the 10,000 step total. If you can't get outside, are recovering from an injury, or simply want to introduce a cross-training workout to your regimen, you can also consider the 5 benefits of an incline treadmill walk. #WalkTheWalk

Minute 2: Hot Tub Time Machine

Let's imagine for a second that a hot tub functions as a time machine. Not in the "I went back to the 1980s and relived the glory days at a ski resort" sense, but in a time-saving or even a well-being sense. It turns out that the physiological response to passive heating (hot tub, warm bath, sauna) compares favorably with aerobic exercise. The thesis is supported by a study published late last year and is described more fully in this new story: "Can't face running? Have a hot bath or a sauna – research shows they offer some similar benefits." And passive heat therapy doesn’t just benefit couch potatoes. There are documented benefits to using it in conjunction with a run or workout. Sauna culture has existed in Scandinavian countries for centuries, and Japanese culture has strongly followed onsen (hot spring) bathing. There have been plenty of studies to support health benefits from saunas. Moderate exercise and heat therapy have both been shown to reduce heart disease. The idea is that both activities raise your heart rate and your body temperature in a safe manner. #RunningHot

Minute 3: Holy guacamole, avocados are a superfood

It seems like every week, a new supermarket item is bestowed with the title of “superfood.” It doesn’t hold the same weight after hearing it the hundredth time, but rest assured we’re serious about it when we talk about the “Benefits of avocados: 4 ways they are good for your health.” Avocados are packed with important nutrients, and there’s plenty of scientific research to back it up. First, they’re a great source of potassium, which is something athletes need to regulate muscle function, among other things. They’ve also got lots of fiber, making avocados very filling without containing too many calories. Finally, they've got a ton of monounsaturated fats, and if you haven’t heard about those, you’ve got to read “What Are the Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats.” Not only do they help with weight loss, but they can also reduce the risk of heart disease and lower inflammation. Avocados are a versatile food too. We’ve found so many recipes that it's hard to choose, but here are “25 Ways to Use Avocado in Your Next Meal.” Perhaps the only caution (or encouragement) we’d offer is that avocado guacamole pairs dangerously well with tequila. #GreenTeam

Minute 4: It’s All In The Hips

When Happy Gilmore was learning to golf, his mentor and coach Chubbs Peterson knew the ticket to success was more than just his hockey swing -- it was all in the hips. We've talked a lot about the importance of lower body strength and conditioning. Reminders: yoga for runners, core strength, squatting, and another recent minute on hip strength. So why talk about it again? Because the, ahem, more seasoned guys on our staff really liked this new article from Men’s Health: "Men Over 40 Can Use This Power Exercise to Build Strong Lower Bodies." Of course this move (a weighted hip thrust) doesn’t just help men. It conditions and strengthens hips, glutes, and lower backs for increased mobility and speed. The video by trainer Kirk Charles explains why you should do the exercise and how to do it safely. Previously we've talked about how core strength can add more stability to your form as you near the end of races. When your body gets tired, your form breaks down and you become too loose and wobbly. Integrating hip exercises into a post-run stretch is also a great way to combat the wobbles. #HipCheck

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Are you looking to shore up personal weaknesses, but aren’t quite sure what needs the most work? You may want to start with a few fitness tests to see where you’ve got the most room for improvement. Here are “The 7 Best Ways to Test Your Overall Physical Fitness.” The list provides options to check your cardio, dexterity, strength, and more. Once you gauge your strengths and weaknesses, the best exercises for you become clearer.

  • Mary Cain shook up the running world in 2019 with this op-ed in the NYT: “I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike.” Cain bravely spoke out about the physiological effects of running and extreme coaching demands on her body. She was an inspiration to many other women runners who faced similar challenges. Two years later, Outside Magazine just published a follow-up of sorts: “Running’s Cultural Reckoning Is Long Overdue,” an article highlighting runners like Hannah Whetzel, a former University of Arizona athlete. She saw Cain's story, and realized she had experienced much of the same mistreatment by her coaching staff. Wesleyan University XC alumnae also raised awareness of their own struggles and inappropriate coaching tactics. Despite medical and cultural progress in understanding the specific needs of female athletes, it seems that we will continue to need heroes like Mary Cain and Hannah Whetzel for the foreseeable future.

  • Nothing against our friends and readers who are avid cyclists, but runners are more likely to have superior bone strength than people who pedal their way to fitness. An Italian study suggests that weight-bearing exercises help create better long-term bone health than non-weight-bearing activities. The study focused primarily on extreme athletes, but its author concludes that if you're at risk of weaker bones, you should perhaps focus on running more than cycling. It isn't the first study to suggest this either.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Who knew that Malcolm Gladwell, the famed author of Outliers, is also a very good runner at age 57? A young buck journalist named Chris Chavez challenged Gladwell to a duel in the recent Trials of Miles in New York City. Despite being only half Chavez’s age, Gladwell ran an impressive 5:15 mile, overtaking Chavez on the bell lap. The video below provides some fun and nerdy commentary on the duel. If you want to skip the idle chatter, scroll ahead to the 5:30 mark of the video below to catch all the action.

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