Walking can lead to weight loss, more intense exercise

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Studies show that we are all sitting too much. Even if you have an intense workout every day, that doesn't make up for the eight hours at work when you're sitting. Experts think the solution might be getting out on a walk.

The City of Phoenix has been building a weekly night of walking, running and fun to get people downtown, and more active. It happens every Monday.

The weather has been great. An evening walk is a natural way to exercise this time of year.

And many people we met say they want to feel better.

“We're all working on getting healthier and happier with our lifestyles,” said Melody Hodges on a recent Monday. “So we thought, what a great way to come out and socialize and get some fitness in as well.”

Walking is easy on the joints, and you can do it anywhere. But it's kind of slow.

I wondered if there was a way to get more out of a walk.

“Think about shorter steps,” said walking coach and fitness expert Michele Stanten. “Keep your head up.

Stanten met me downtown. She says if you want walking to be more productive, speed it up.

“If you want to walk faster,” she said, “(you) have to bring them up to 90-degree angle and use your arms, swinging your arms faster. Then your feet want to stay with the arms, so you'll pick up the pace."

Stanten suggested speed-walking in 30-second intervals to start. Shorten your stride and stand up straight to improve speed and posture.

“Can you lose weight if you're walking?” I asked.

“Absolutely!” Stanten said. “And believe it or not, you can burn just as many calories walking as you can running. Or you can even burn more.”

Stanten admits speed-walking takes some practice, but it gets results. She likes that people can get fit enough to try other forms of exercise.

“You start walking, you make progress with that, get fitter, and then some will try running, some will start exercise classes, strength training. Others will stick with walking," she said.

Stanten also suggested finding opportunities to walk every day, like while your child is in a lesson or practicing. Or go to beautiful places to get inspired and walk with other people.

For more information on speed-walking, visit Stanten's website at mywalkingcoach.com.

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