Don't Put Your Walking Shoes Away Just Yet

Indoor walking is an excellent way to maintain fitness and dieting goals through the winter months.
Although the start of winter was milder than usual, patches of snow and ice are now creating slick spots on neighborhood sidewalks and streets, sending a message to many to put away the walking shoes until spring.

Fear of falling and getting injured--maybe a broken ankle or hip--thwarts the desire and joy of a brisk, heart-pumping walk outside.

"It's not really very safe. You don't accomplish what you're trying to do if you have to be that cautious," said Edie Phillips, 77, who lives with her husband, Richard, in an apartment at Towne House Retirement Community.

Take It Indoors

But don't put the walking shoes away until green grass is visible again. America on the Move Fort Wayne has partnered with community agencies to offer free or low-cost indoor winter walking or exercise programs in safe, well-lighted places.

Towne House is one of 15 such sites. Sarah Jane Butler, who also resides there, helped design a map showing the indoor walking path people in the community can use at no cost. Butler walks in the early-morning hours when there are fewer people.

"I like to walk fast," she said, adding, "I've always been a walker."

Edie Phillips usually takes her walk in the early afternoon, but admits, "I'm not as faithful as my husband." Richard Phillips prefers a 30 minute midmorning walk around Towne House's interior hallways.

He includes stairs to increase the cardiovascular benefits, especially important since his heart attack a few years ago. Last spring and summer, the couple participated in Fort Wayne Walks One Million Miles, but they don't want winter weather to be an excuse to quit walking for fitness.

Some places that have agreed to open their facilities to the public for cold-weather walking or exercise require visitors to show an America On the Move ID card: Among them are the Academy of Sports & Health Centre, Spiece Lifestyle Medical Center and Towne House.

But even so, there is no cost, said Marsha Worthington, coordinator of the local America On the Move initiative, who is also a nurse at Fort Wayne Cardiology. A paper card can be downloaded from the America On the Move Web site when registering with the nonprofit organization.

A Nationwide Organization Promoting Walking

America On the Move's mission is to promote a more active, healthy lifestyle in a nation that has an adult obesity rate of 32 percent--34 percent of Americans age 20 and older are overweight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Several community sites, including Indiana Tech and the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, are substantially reducing fees to allow people to walk or exercise in their facilities.

One public school, Waynedale Elementary, is allowing the public to walk there or use the school's fitness center for free before and after school.

Worthington praised Towne House, The Chapel, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church and others for not letting liability issues get in the way of allowing the public access to walk in their buildings.

"We're just so pleased with the response we've received," she said. "My goal is to find a place in every neighborhood where people can walk indoors."

Burn Calories by Walking

The table below shows how many steps it takes to burn one calorie at various heights and weights, according to gender:

Weight (in pounds) Height Steps
100 5'4" 36
130 5'4" 28
150 5'4" 24
180 5'4" 20
200 5'4" 18

Weight (in pounds) Height Steps
140 5'8" 24
160 5'8" 21
180 5'8" 19
200 5'8" 17
220 5'8" 15

Source: The Step Diet Book, by James O. Hill and John C. Peters with Bonnie T. Jortberg; published by Workman Publishing

To register for free membership and download an America On the Move ID card, go to

Copyright (c) 2007, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

Discuss This Article