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Last Wednesday we played hookie (not hockey…”hookie” is a word not used much more these days but describes secretly missing school or work with not a very good excuse) from work and went on a walk on one of the trails at Prince William Park.  The weather was gorgeous with mild temperatures despite this being November.  The trail was not simply an easy walk around a lake like at Burke Lake Park, but rather, involved some areas where we walked up some elevations, and carefully went down some inclines.  The walk clearly involved lots more caloric expenditure than a simple walk around the neighborhood or a flat trail.

Many people, when asked whether they exercise or not will state “I walk”.  Due to orthopedic issues or simple “hate” of running, many people will not jog or run.   Caloric burn off is enhanced by activities that raise the heart rate.  A “good” exercise is considered when the heart rate gets to 80% of maximum for age (100% max is 220-age) and keeping it there for 20-30 minutes.  

The more “difficult” or challenging the walk, the more the heart rate will go up and the more calories will be burned off.  So, if you have the opportunity to walk in areas that have hills or trails that provide a more challenging walk environment, this will help your weight control efforts.

Additionally, during a walk, varying your speeds will produce a situation where the heart rate goes faster, then slower, then faster again etc.  This is a type of “interval” training.  Running or sprinting is not required for this.

Check your heart rate when you are walking and see if you are getting close to the 80% maximum for age rate.  If you are close, continue your current walking strategy.  If the heart rate is much lower than 80%, try to maximize your walk in other ways, i.e. interval speeds and/or more challenging walking paths.  

And for those of you that have not been to Prince William Park off the Triangle exit on I-95, check it out….amazing trail and very few people there.