Hello Readers! As you may know, the month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this month typically kicks off with the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K the first weekend of October. I know this because my previous employer used to pay our entry fees to participate in our local 5K race. This month always gets me thinking about walking and running for exercise. So let’s talk about it for a little.
To begin with, walking and running are excellent forms of exercise for anyone because they are free and they can do so much good for you. They strengthen your core and your muscles, and they can help increase your stamina and endurance. It’s a cardio and endurance exercise in one, and best of all you can experience the fresh air while walking and running.
I love walking, especially in the Fall. Being surrounded by the color-changing trees, seeing the wild birds fly South overhead, feeling the crisp cool wind on my warm face while I pant along. It’s a weird experience, but it’s also a good one. The Fall is a great time to go for walks because it’s still warm enough to be outside in the morning and yet it isn’t so hot during the day that you are roasting. I tend to do my best workout midday, so Fall is an excellent time for me to get outdoors to walk. And it’s free to take a walk.
Now, while you can walk on a treadmill inside for exercise, I have found that I tend to work harder when I walk outside, and the results come faster when I walk outside versus being inside on a treadmill. And, as an added bonus, most of the parks in our city feature exercise systems with kinetic equipment and training paths. The paths tend to be either a half mile or mile long circle of either asphalt or concrete. These are designed to promote healthy citizens in our city without requiring a gym membership. After all, our city was named the second healthiest city in the nation in 2015. So, it makes sense that we would have this system designed in our parks.
Now, your city may not have parks like this. You may not even have access to something like this. But, I believe you can still achieve results without having to get a gym membership. Instead of turning to the park, turn to your local high school. Why? Simple: the race track.
The track that runs around the after football field is one quarter mile long. Four laps around equals a mile. So, it’s the perfect place to use for walking.
Now, I know a lot of you are saying the same thing: “The track is for high school kids.” Technically, you are right. However, the track is open to the public because the school is paid for by citizens via property taxes. Therefore, it is considered public property, too. As long as you follow the rules of the school (the federal laws, too, like no firearms/weapons, no drugs/cigarettes/alcohol, etc.) you are legally allowed to use their track as long as it doesn’t interfere with their training schedules for sports or education. For more information, visit the front office of the school and let them know you would like to use the track for walking/running purposes personally and ask when it would be acceptable. They can tell you what sports are using the field at what times so that you can use the field as well. Typically, however, you would be okay to head over around five or six o’clock most evenings. Just keep in mind that they may have football games occurring in the Fall that would bar you from entry for that time period.
If you don’t want to do that, or you don’t have the time to use the field without interfering with the school’s sports and education, you can always download a GPS-based app to your smartphone and train on your streets and sidewalks. Most apps are either free or cheap, but their purpose is to measure your distance via your phone’s GPS tracker. Just search for “GPS Running Tracker” in the app store or play store to find an app that works for you. You can also purchase a simple pedometer from a sporting good store for around $5.00 to use. I wouldn’t recommend using an app for that; I’ve found that the pedometer app on my phone often miscalculated my steps and added them when I talked with my hands. Instead, I prefer to use my simple pedometer that clips on; I tend to clip it to my sock or my shoe and use that to measure my steps accurately.
Other than that, I recommend your typical workout gear, a water bottle, and a good pair of running or walking shoes. I like to wear yoga pants and a t shirt all from Target, along with a jacket and head scarf on colder days, for my walks. As for my water bottle, my trusty 32 oz. Contigo bottle that I love was a little pricey at $14.99 at Kohl’s, but it’s been my trusty water bottle for the last year and it hasn’t let me down yet. As for my shoes, I love my Ryka Cross Trainers, which were $54.99 from Kohl’s. Again, I would recommend the clothes you already own.
And finally, block out some time to go for a walk or a run. If you have to take the kiddos, like I do, remember to dress them warmly and get a good stroller. I have the Graco Click Connect three wheel stroller with adjustable straps, adjustable seat, and easy folding for storage. It is fantastic for being outside with our son Sean, and he really likes it. Best of all, it’s easy for me to press the button and fold it up to store in the trunk of my car, where it stays all the time. And the stroller turns on a dime, which is a wonderful feature, especially when we attend crowded festivals and fairs.
So, Readers, I hope you will give this trusted and old-fashioned workout a chance. It’s a wonderful way to get your heart rate up, get moving, and get your kids outside at once. And best of all, it can cost you next to nothing to do. It’s definitely worth it to me!
Until next time,