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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Red Bandana: An Argument for Walking

The view down my street while on a walk.
Photo: Anthony Trendl
 Be sure to read the current column: Lost and Found: Subway's Jared Fogle and Us

I love running. I identify myself as a runner, read running magazines and websites, and love running culture. However, there is more than one way a biped like me can get fit: walking.

Why walk? Walking, for all intents and purposes, burns as many calories per mile as a 5:00 mile. That isn't perfectly accurate, but close enough for my point.

I am slowly finding my way into fitness. Still, to run faster, I need to drop fat. My left calf the other day, after a lovely seven mile run, reminded me to be smart. Too much, too soon left me with one aching calf muscle. I need to keep walking as part of my workout.

Is walking a workout? Not in the pure aerobic sense, but in that I walked, have I burned a few calories? You bet. 423 calories equals a portion of a favorite lunch (Sloppy Joes – three of them). That means, in practical terms, the buns, 100 calories each, made no impact other than whatever vitamins and minerals they may have. The meat? I'm not sure what it was worth, but, I ate 123 calories worth free of charge.

I walk often to finish off a run, or just a mile up and around the neighborhood. Saturday morning garage sales are a great excuse to tour the 'hood, and sneak in a little exercise. You can meet that good looking single executive who just moved in, or giggle at the things people bothered to buy on vacation (who needs a mug that says, "I've been to the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, Nebraska?")

Just as we all can nickel and dime ourselves into being overweight, we can also reverse the process. A mile here, a mile there, and the next thing you know, you have gone 30 miles, or, in more useful terms, lost one pound.

To be careful, of course, I must not pretend to be a dietician and suggest Sloppy Joes are good for you. Fitness is not merely losing weight by burning calories, carbs and so forth, but it is about a fully healthy, fit body.

Sloppy Joes (at least the way I make them) are loaded with fat, sugar, carbs, salt and probably other things that quickly fall into the "too much of a good thing" category. It is no great dietary decision that I wash them down with fresh lemonade. And before you pipe up to announce, "But lemons are a fruit!" let me tell you I compensate for whatever benefit lemon juice has with loads of sugar.

In my defense, I might have green beans with them, but that's like saying the cherry on top of a hot fudge sundae makes it good for me.

In other words, get out there walking, buy some kitschy, used, souvenirs, and enjoy the people in your neighborhood.

Running Song of the Week
Lipps, Inc. had a hit with this in 1980. In lacks depth and musical complexity. It makes no social statements, mad as a love song, few songs are weaker. And yet, it works. A catchy guitar riff, a repeating chorus will suck you into a good groove as you strut through around town, getting fit and getting funky.

Gotta make a move to a town that's right for me,
Town to get me movin'
Keep me groovin' with some

Writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. He looks to running as he battles midlife and his mid-section. Find out more at

For more about my running adventures, see A Runner’s Dilemma (workout details, videos and more):

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

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