Walking: A Complete Guide to Walking for Fitness, Health and Weight Loss Book Review

Author: John Stanton

Publisher: Penguin Books

For many years, the name John Stanton has been associated with running. Founder of the Running Room, Stanton has run more than 60 marathons and was named by Maclean's magazine as one of 10 Canadians making a difference in the country for his contribution to health through fitness. But Stanton knows that something as simple as walking little further each day can make a significant difference to improve health.

In 2004, Stanton opened the Walking Room, and modified his stores to cater specifically to the needs of walkers. His book is specifically intended to help walkers reap the same fitness and weight loss benefits that runners have experienced. It might be surprising for some to learn that one mile of brisk walking actually burns about the same number of calories as one mile of running or jogging.

Running, for many reasons, may not be ideal for all fitness enthusiasts, but walking is something we can all do. Because walking takes longer, it usually requires a bigger investment in time, but walkers suffer fewer injuries than runners.

As Stanton explains in his book, walking can be both social and personal–it can be a "life-altering experience." His plan for this book was to provide a gentle yet progressive plan for beginners. He provides training schedules and innovative training techniques that can build a recreational walker into a marathon walker.

Stanton covers the foundation and components of sports training, walking pace and types, nutrition, interval training, walking programs, biomechanics (walking form and technique), shoe and heart rate monitor selection, cross training and more. He offers specific walking programs based on specific goals. These include walking a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon or walking for weight loss.

Stanton is well known for his 10/1 training concept for runners, which includes one minute of walking for every 10 minutes of running. He translates this into walking as one minute of strolling with an exaggerated stride length for every 10 minutes of brisk walking. "As we stress our bodies, we need a period of rest to allow for rejuvenation, where the athlete becomes stronger, fitter and faster."

The 10/1 combination saw its origin in 1981 when Stanton entered his first 3K race. He was a self-described out-of-shape, overweight beginner who realized he had to change his lifestyle.

Walking and running secretly before dawn so his neighbors couldn't see this "chubby little guy" who could barely make it from lamppost to lamppost, he developed this signature run/walk combination that led him to complete hundreds of race events and triathlons, including the Canadian Ironman and the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. His programs have since helped more than 600,000 people reach the finish line.

Some health benefits that you can look forward to when walking are: more energy, less stress, weight loss, fewer aches and pains, toned muscles, a healthier heart, improved sleep, and improved self-esteem.

Stanton describes five goal categories that should be part of any good walking program:

1. A daily goal to get moving every day.

2. A self-acceptance goal to confirm that daily fitness is part of your lifestyle.

3. A performance goal for a season (either a distance or a time goal).

4. A dedication goal or a special goal for a season (something that will motivate you to continue training throughout the year), for example, the memories of a loved one.

5. A dream goal (a big event or achievement).

"The setting of athletic goals, the discipline of following a regimented program towards specific goals and the recording of your progress will transfer over into other parts of your life," Stanton writes. "Studies continue to prove that people who are physically active are more positive in their approach to challenges, have more energy and eat better."

The benefits of walking are seemingly endless, but like running, it is important to listen to your body and advance accordingly.

Make it a goal to commit to improving your life and health through walking.

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Vanessa Rodriguez is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, an ultra-endurance athlete, and an online editor for Active.com.

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