Walking has been an essential function in human evolution. This form of mobility allowed early man to hunt, gather and defend.
As more sedentary lifestyles have emerged, walking is proving to be an effective means of increasing longevity. The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps per day (five miles) to reap the full health benefit. Although this may be a lofty goal, after consulting with a physician, any distance is movement in the right direction.
• Lower blood pressure
• Weight reduction
• Better stamina
The increased popularity of fitness walking has given rise to many walking events including race walking, charity walks and more recently, marathon walks. As opposed to race walking, where speed and form are crucial, marathon walking is a distance event extending 26.2 miles.
Like any marathon, preparation and support are crucial. Training includes progressively increasing distances, nutrition and using proper equipment.
Hundreds of walkers recently participated in a marathon walk from Old Saybrook Point to Harkness Memorial Park in support of the Terry Brodeur Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Participants were required to complete the walk in an allotted period of time. Training and race day support was provided by the foundation.
Deb Hinchey of Norwich was one of the participants. She trained with a group of seven adult women over a period of months. “We all attained a great feeling of accomplishment when finishing and realized we could go well beyond anything we thought our bodies could do,” said Hinchey. Other than fatigue, the biggest obstacle was avoiding blisters. Many participants purchased shoes a full size larger than normal to accommodate swelling.
In addition to becoming more fit, charity marathon walk participants gain a great feeling of knowing they helped a worthwhile cause.