The Wide World of Walking Equipment

Your guide to walking equipment that will keep you on the road

Introduction Walking Equipment

Posted on Filed under: Walking Benefits,Walking Equipment,Walking Gear — Tags: , , , — walkin' man @ 2:14 pm

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The word “walk” finds it’s origins in the Old English word “walken” which means to travel about and that’s exactly what The Wide World of Walking Equipment is all about. We will travel the walking community and explore all it’s manifestations. Topics will be wide ranging, but all designed to help you get the most from your walking experience. While the primary focus will be on walking equipment and gear, our intent is to cover a wide range of related subjects.   We will talk about the benefits of a walking program…Which of them are real and which are not?  What clothing is proper? What about walking sneakers?…what to buy and when to discard. Various walking approaches: Nordic, Power, Racing, Club, Recreational, and Fitness. We’ll include discussions about walking vacations, clubs and the community’s events around the country and around the world.

We will solicit walking equipment reviews from you. What you like and what you don’t. We will serve as a clearing house and bulletin board for local groups, programs and events. We’ll conduct reader surveys and provide links to helpful and informative sites. Our ultimate goal is to inform and promote. Inform both the novice and the experienced walker and promote the walking experience to everyone.

Whether you walk for personal fitness, to reduce stress or just to enjoy your neighborhood, by joining The Wide World of Walking Equipment community you will enrich your experience and enhance your results. So come and join me as we travel about this interesting and varied world.

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Walking Plus Glucosamine Equals Less Arthritis

Posted on Filed under: Walking Benefits — walkin' man @ 5:56 pm

A recent study conducted in Brisbane, Australia and published in the Arthritis Research & Therapy Journal, demonstrates that a 30 minute walk at least three times a week along with a daily regimen of glucosamine sulfate supplements reduces the pain of osteoarthritis in the hip and knee.

Walking is often recommended as a way of reducing pain and improving mobility of persons suffering from mild osteoarthritis and glucosamine sulfate has also been recommended to lessen the pain and slow the disease process.  The goal of this study was to see what the effect would be of combining them together in a single therapy.  In addition, two levels of walking frequency were measured, 3 vs. 5 times a week along with three step levels; 1500, 3000 and 6000 steps per outing.

Methodology

The study was conducted on 28 middle aged to elderly arthritis suffers.  Each was given 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfateper day.  After 6 weeks of receiving the supplemental regiment, they began a 12 week walking program, continuing to take the glucosamine.

A little over half the participants walked 5 days a week, while the rest walked 3.  They used pedometers to measure their step counts.  The step levels were gradually increased; the first six weeks began at 1500 and increased to 3000 steps per trip.  The second six week the target went from 3,000 to 6,000 steps.

Results

The study found that glucosamine sulfate by itself did help improve the objective measures of physical activity and function.  In addition, improvement was seen in suffers ability to manage their arthritis pain.  Walking 5 days did not seem to appreciably improve the situation.  Among the three times a week group, the 3,000 step level increase the physical activity scores by 125% and pain reduction by 17%.  Moving to 6,000 steps resulted in an additional 57% increase in physical activity and function. Most of the improvements came between weeks 6 and 12.

Although a small pilot study, the finding did show that arthritis suffers can get significant relief by combining a glucosamine regiment with a walking program, with the maximum improvement achieved by talking 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate and walking 6,000 steps 3 times a week.

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Walking Really Does Increase Your Energy

Posted on Filed under: Walking Equipment — Tags: , , — walkin' man @ 6:25 pm

In honor of Earth Day 2010 it seemed appropriate to report on a news story I recently came across, a story that gives new “energy” to the words walking equipment. Oddly enough this story likely had its origins in Disco. It seems that a Dutch company with the unlikely name of The Sustainable Dance Club Company developed a floor panel used to illuminate dance floors by creating energy from dancing. These panels were embedded with micro sensors, tiny “generator” and LED lights. Something called the “Piezo Effect” is responsible for the power generation. Not going to get in that in any detail (more here if your interested) but essentially how it works is, each time a panel is stepped or stomped on, it’s compressed about half an inch and tiny generator converts that compression activity into electricity. The energy created is then used to power the LED lights.

From this basic product they developed a sidewalk pavement panel with the same micro sensor and “generator” configuration. Through the same Piezo Effect, people walking on the panels generate enough electricity to power street lights. The city of Toulouse in southwest France has installed eight of the panels and found that they can in fact generate 50-60 watts of energy which would be enough to power any nearby street lamps.

In addition to dance floors, there are number of other installations that employ the basic technology: a subway station in Tokyo and a supermarket in England. Sustainable Dance Club Company said that there has been some interest expressed by local sports venues in initiating a trial program.

While big questions remain about the practicality of wide spread use of this technology both from a cost and durability perspective, it is an interesting development with wide spread implications. Perhaps a power generated walking sneaker is somewhere in our future?

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Getting Rid of Walking Sneaker Odor

Posted on Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — walkin' man @ 12:28 pm

Well it finally happened, my wife said it was either her or my favorite pair of walking sneakers.  Either I did something about the odor, or my shoes and I would be banished to the basement for good.  Although I do have a finished basement and would likely have  been  very comfortable, the choice was an easy one. ..Fix the Sneakers.

The Source

What causes the problem anyway?   Your shoes didn’t start out with that odor did they?  The prime source of the dilemma is, of course, your feet.  Did you know that they have a name for extreme cases of foot odor?  It’s called bromhidrosis.   The primary cause of foot odor is perspiration.  This provides a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. When the cellular debris from the bacteria and yeast begin to break down, they produce the notorious foot odor.   In addition there are some skin conditions that can also contribute to the problem.   These conditions are not necessarily harmful but do create a rich environment for the growth of microorganisms. Infections such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus could result, so it’s best to keep the whole situation under control.

Prevention

The follow are some ways to keep your feet dry and odor free, preventing your sneakers from picking it up in the first place.  The best advice is to keep your feet as clean and dry as possible.

  • Shower regularly with anti-bacterial soap.
  • Use foot powders and sprays specifically designed to keep feet dry.
  • Change your shoes and socks often.
  • Wear sandals during warm weather.

Cure

What if it’s too late, the walking sneakers are already cursed.  What to do then?  Obviously pitching them is an option (the one favored by my wife).  But short of that, what’s to do?  There are a ton of commercial and homemade remedies.  Here are a few.  (I’ll have to admit that I haven’t tried most of these so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness)

  • Wash sneakers thoroughly–inside and out–with soapy detergent and bleach.  Sprinkle bicarbonate or baking soda the insides of the shoes.  Leave overnight.  (This one worked for me)
  • Wipe the insides of the sneakers with rubbing alcohol.
  • Stuff the shoes with newspaper and leave overnight.
  • Spray vinegar inside the sneakers.
  • Stick them in the freezer overnight.  (This did not work for me).
  • Seal them in a plastic bag with coffee (unused).
  • Put kitty litter in an old sock and stuff it in the shoe between usages.
  • Insert orange peels in the shoes.
  • Baby Power is another suggestion.
  • There are a host of products specifically designed to eliminate shoe odors but I’ve not tried any of them. Note: If anyone has, I’m sure we would all be interested in knowing which ones were effective and which ones weren’t.

Maintenance

Once you’ve managed to eliminate the problem there are a couple of things, in addition to foot care, that you can do.

  • Rotate you walking sneakers, allowing them to completely dry out between uses.
  • Give you shoes a shot of disinfectant after each use.
  • Use redwood shoe trees.

Walking sneaker odor can quickly make you an outcast in your own home so it’ll be better for you and those around you if you take a little bit of time and effort to banish this source of potential friction from your environment.

It would be great to get some feedback if anyone has successfully tried any of these or other odor eradicating exercises.

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Walking and Your Health

Posted on Filed under: Walking Benefits — Tags: , , , — walkin' man @ 4:28 pm

The evidence just keeps on coming.  An organized walking program can and will improve your health.  It’s a fact.  A recent study appearing in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke is the latest.  We all know that exercise is good for you but this study specifically zeros in on the walking benefits as a critical exercise routine, even when compared to other forms such as running, swimming and biking.

The study was conducted with 39,000 female health workers 45 or older who participate in a comprehensive life style study called Women’s Health Study.  A 12-year-old research program that, among other things, monitors the participants’ physical activity, comparing it with various health related problems.

Results

The study looked at three factors: Generally how women classified their normal everyday walking speed (slow, moderate or brisk).  Identifying those who participated in an organized walking exercise program.  Finally, ascertaining those that participated in an exercise programs other than walking. The study found that women who said they walked briskly as part of their daily activities had a 37 % lower risk of a stroke than those who said they didn’t.  Women who reported walking a minimum of two hours a week at any pace had a 30 % lower risk of stroke.  The researchers found that a reduced risk of stroke was not evident with those women who engaged in other forms of physical exercise.   This seems a bit counter intuitive and may have been the result of too small of a sample size.  They adjusted their figures to take into account other things that might skew the results, such as age, smoking, family history, etc.

Implications

While the study didn’t establish the reasons behind the risk decline, lowering blood pressure for example, it does present some pretty clear implications. The study would seem to suggest that women, in particular, receive significant health benefits from engaging in even a modest walking program of two hours a week.  The other inference is that we need to “pick up the pace” in our everyday lives.  Simply put, whenever possible, walk at a brisk pace.  Don’t plod from A to B.  Get there quickly, with a bit of snap.  It’s not only good for your health but it projects an image of strength and energy as well.  So start now to maximize your walking benefits.

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Sun Protection Walking Gear and Supplies

Posted on Filed under: Walking Clothing,Walking Gear,Walking Safety — walkin' man @ 12:04 pm

Well it’s finally starting to warm up around most of the country. The sun is shining brightly, the birds are singing. The color green is starting to dominate your surroundings. Unfortunately we’ve spent most of those long winter months hibernating on our sofa in front of the TV or computer. But we are getting the urge re-engage our walking exercise routines and enjoy the glories of spring. However exposing our indoor condition skin to the bright sun light can pose some real short and long-term problems and certain walking safety precautions should be taken to limit the sun’s more nasty effects.

Sun screen/ sun blocks are the most effective walking gear defense against the harmful effects of UV radiation on the skin. The effects of UV radiation on the body are well documented: Sunburn, premature skin aging, with squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma among the most deadly. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure couldn’t be more true than in the case of excessive sun exposure.

A quick primer on UV radiation. There are two types of UV radiation: UVA and UVB (differences are in their wave length spectrums). UVA is the long-term problem and has been linked to cancers. UVB principle downside is sunburn. Both are harmful and need to be addressed by a properly formulated sunscreen.

Measuring Protection: SPF

The effectiveness of a sun screen is measured by the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) scale found on sunscreen packaging. SPF is the amount of UVB radiation required to cause sunburn with the particular sunscreen on verses the amount required without sunscreen. If you’re wearing a product with a SPF of 50 means you can absorb 50x more radiation without getting a burn. But SPF gives you little information about the level of protection against UVA. Simply relying on SPF will not give you the whole picture. While Europe has created a standard to measure a product’s effectiveness against UVA, the US standards are still under development. That’ not to say that the products don’t contain protection against UAV, usually in the form of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, currently there is just no way of telling the level of protection you ‘re getting.

AAD Tips for Sun Protection

The American Academy of Dermatology offers these tips to help protect you from the harmful effects of sun exposure during your walk.

  • Apply a generous amount of water-resistant sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30.
  • Check to ensure that the sunscreen blocks both UVA and VUB radiation
  • Reapply the sunscreen very two hours and after swimming or working up a sweat

Some additional tips

  • Wear protective walking clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Walk in the shade whenever possible especially during the peak radiation hours of 10am and 4pm.
  • Take special care with children using protective clothing and applying sunscreen.
  • Water and sand can reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of increase UV exposure.
  • Since sunscreens filter vitamin D along with UV radiation, be sure you get you daily requirement through diet or supplements.
  • Ultraviolet light from tanning beds is the same as from the sun so avoid them. Periodically check your skin for any abnormal changes, growths or bleeding. If you notice anything out of the ordinary check with your dermatologist.

As we get ready to resume our outdoor exercise routines it’s important that we take the proper precautions to insure that we incorporate the important walking safety equipment and supplies in our standard routines. Walk Safely and Be Healthy.

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Recycle Old Walking Gear

Posted on Filed under: Walking Gear,walking sneakers — Tags: , , , , , , — walkin' man @ 10:42 am

We all have them don’t we?  Usually more than one pair.  They’re lying at the bottom of our closet gathering dust.  Worn just enough that you’d rather use a different pair but not worn enough to throw away.  What am I taking about?  That stacks of used walking sneakers of course.  We’ve all fallen prey to the impulse to purchase a new pair of sneakers not because we really need them but because you’ve tired of you old pair and just want a change.  Now this walking gear been sitting there for a month or two, what to do with them?  Throw them away?  There is a better idea.  There are a number of organizations that will gladly take them off your hands…or in this case your feet.

The first obvious recipient would be your favorite local charity organization.  Those that collect used clothing.  Goodwill Industries comes to mind, but there are many others.  They typically have drop off points or schedule periodic pickups. 

That’s the obvious one but there are many others.  For example Nike has a program called Reuse-a-shoe.  You drop off your old walking sneaker at one of their locations (a locator can be found on their web site) and they will break the shoes down into its component parts and recycle it into what’s called Nike Grind.  A raw material used in constructing the soft flooring for basketball courts and running tracks.

Soles4Souls is another great organization that ships walking sneakers both new and used to the needy around the world.  They encourage people to set up shoe collection drives and provides some “how to” information.  Their motto “Changing the World, One Pair at a Time” gives you their perspective.   You simply box up your old sneakers and send them to one of their three warehouse locations.

Another is Heart and Sole a program affiliated with Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.  They have been collecting and redistributing used walking sneakers to charitable organizations around the globe since 1999.

Others include:

One World Running

Sole Responsibility

The Shoe Bank

Another excellent source for finding drop of locations is Recycled Runners. Com.  A directory of sneaker collection programs.  Keep in mind that most of these organizations are looking for slightly worn walking sneakers so if the old sneakers are really ”old” save them for the Nike recycle program. 

So if you’re tired of stumbling over that stack of old walking gear why not donate them to one of these organizations.  You’ll be helping the needy, the environment and yourself.

 

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Walking Equipment The Walking/Hiking Staff

Posted on Filed under: Walking Equipment,Walking Gear,Walking Safety — Tags: , , , , , , , — walkin' man @ 11:17 am

Walking or hiking staff do you really need one?  Assuming for the moment that you’re not into Nordic walking or don’t require one because of an infirmary of some sort, the answer is, not usually.  Your daily walks are most likely in an urban environment with plenty of paving and has little in the way of strenuous climbing.  But if you’re lucky enough to be able to get out into a more rugged setting with a fair degree of frequency, a hiking/walking staff is something you might want to consider as part of your assortment of walking equipment.

A hiking sticks or staffs come in a wide array of configurations and a wide array of materials.  They can be as simple as a stick you pick up along your walk to a complex, hi tech piece of equipment.  If you find yourself selecting a stick from the first, improvisational, category here are a couple of tips to help you find a walking stick that will work well.

  •   Find something that isn’t too heavy.  Of Couse you could throw it away if it got too much of a burden but if it works, you may want to keep it around if for nothing more than as a memento.
  •  There is a bit of a debate about the height that a stick should be.  At a minimum, it should be 6 inches taller than your elbow.  At the most, a bit higher than your shoulder.  Your preference, however the taller version would be more helpful in rugged country.
  •  Before you decided on a particular stick you need to be sure it can handle the job.  You don’t want to rely on something that is going to give way when you need it the most.  So put your full weight on the stick.  If there is excess bending or obviously it snaps then toss it and look for something else
  •  Make sure the business end…where the stick meets the ground…is sturdy.  No splits, cracks, missing portions or uneven surface.  Nothing that is going to throw you off balance.
  •  Make sure the hand grip area is smooth, free of knots or a potentially abrasive surface.  Insure that the grip area is not too big or too small.  You going to be carrying it for a while, so a comfortable grip is key.
  • Finally, find a stick that’s already on the ground.  Don’t go tearing branches off a healthy tree.  Likely it will be too green to do you much good anyway.

A good walking stick can be of real benefit when walking on uneven or difficult terrain.  It can be that third leg that will help you maintain your balance and prevent a fall or twisted joint. In the right circumstances, a walking staff has its place among important pieces of your walking equipment assortment.

 

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Important Walking Equipment A Heart Rate Monitor

Posted on Filed under: Walking Benefits,Walking Equipment,Walking Gear — Tags: , , , , , , , — walkin' man @ 9:24 am

Many fitness walkers rely upon the pedometer as their primary piece of walking equipment/gear when attempting to measure and monitor the intensity of their exercise activity.   Fewer used an equally important devise, the heart rate monitor.

What are they and what do they do?

Obviously, as their name would imply, they are a devise similar to the electrocardiograph at your physician’s office.  A piece of gear that monitors your heart rate, measured in beats per minute, taken during your walking or other exercise routines.  This provides you with a standard to measure the intensity level of your work out.  More than simply a recording devise, a monitor can help you design and structure your exercise routine to maximize its’ efficiency, enabling you to get the most from the time you spend.

How do you use one?

The best way to use a heart monitor is in conjunction with your own personal “target heart rate zones”.    A target heart rate zones start with establishing your “maximum heart rate” (MHR) which is a somewhat theoretical but useful measure of the fastest rate at which your heart can beat.  I say its’ theoretical because it is based on math formulas, although there is a procedure for verification.  The most commonly used formula is 220 minus your age.  So if your 40 years old you MHR is 180 beats per minute.  There are more precise formulas but I’ll save that for another post.  Once you’ve determined you MHR, the zones are simply a percentage of that number.  In our example a 50-60% zone would be 90 to 108 beats per minute (180X50%/60%).  Training experts generally establish 5 target heat rate zones and associate them with specific exercise goals.

  1. 50-60% Zone – heart strengthens, you reduce your body fat and   blood pressure.  Overall health improves but not strength or endurance.
  2. 60-70% Zone – At this level your fat burning increases significantly strength and endurance begin to improve.
  3. 70-80% Zone – More body fat burning and increased strengthening of the heat and lungs.
  4. 80-90% Zone – Here you’re beginning to burn muscle since the heart can’t pump enough oxygen.
  5. 90-100% Zone – You don’t want to go there.

Most exercise routines focus on numbers 1,2,3 and don’t venture into the last two.

Again, in our example, Zone 1 would be walking at a pace that gets your heart rate into the 90 to 108 beats per minute range.  Exercise walking at that rate would improve your overall health but wouldn’t do much for your endurance.

Developing a Heart Rate Based Exercise Routine

The idea here is to design a walking routine that varies its’ speed to increase or decrease your heart rate to help you quickly achieve your overall exercise objectives ie. lose weight, increase endurance, etc. For those who are interested in simply improving their overall health and those just starting out, Zone 1 should be the target.  For anything more, a variation of 1, 2 and 3 would be appropriate.  For example, a third of your total exercise time spent in each of the first three zones.  Changing the zone allotment as your strength and endurance goes up or down. Note:  During a routine it’s always best to break them into some sort of a warm-up, increase, max, warm-down configuration.

Once you’re established your target heart rate zone and programed them into your heart rate monitor, it will do the rest.  Informing you when you’ve reached your target and how long you’ve maintained it.

Brands

There are a wide variety of monitors on the market with a wide array of features, at a wide array of prices.  Have a good idea of what type of routine or goals you want to pursue and then match them the brand or model as best you can.  Consumerresearch.com ranks the Timex T5G971 Unisex Sports Personal Heart Rate Monitor Watch and the Omron HR-100C Heart Rate Monitor as two of the best monitors on the market.

Monitoring your heart rate can give you the tool you need to maximize the effectiveness of you fitness walking activities.  It helps you better plan your walking pace to get maximum effect for each minute your out on the road.  Thereby helping you achieve your goals with less time and effort.  Its’ a piece of walking equipment that gives you a real bang for the buck.

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Walking Safety on Snow and Ice

Posted on Filed under: Walking Safety — Tags: , , , , , , , — walkin' man @ 11:59 am


Snow, Ice, Sleet when will it end?  But perhaps a more important question is,   Will our concerns about walking safety end our walking routines?

Walking during the winter months can be difficult.  Many of us resort to walking indoors or employ walking equipment (treadmills, etc.) of some sort to maintain our exercise routines until spring arrives.  Right about now we are likely bored to death and yearning for the outdoors.  Just a bit of fresh air and a change of scenery.  However, walking in snow and ice can be a challenge, no question about it.  Slipping, sliding, falling and the potential for injury are real dangers and should give us a moment’s pause.  However, at the end of the day, we can’t let a bit of ice and snow or an overpowering sense of boredom erase all our time, hard work and effort.

There are steps we can take to minimize the likelihood of us ending our walk on our derriere or in traction.

  • The first rule is don’t overdress.  Although you need to stay warm don’t overdo it.  Too much clothing, particularly if you’re not use to it, can negatively affect your balance and mobility making you more susceptible to a fall.  So dress warm by all means.  Follow proper layering guidelines but don’t dress like the Michelin Man.

  • Wear walking sneakers with a gripping tread design, not smooth surfaced.  Be sure that your sneakers have adequate tread and not too worn to give you an adequate grip.  Most quality walking sneaker tread is designed to handle navigating slippery surfaces.  If you live in wintery climes and are uncertain about the traction you shoes provide, a good source of information is your local athletic shoe store.

  • In the way of specifically designed walking equipment, there are traction cleats that you attach to your sneakers to give you extra grip and support.  Yaktrax is among the most popular.

  • Slow down you walking pace a bit and keep an open eye well in front.  Plan your walk a few steps ahead to avoid potentially slippery areas.  If your walking route takes you on blacktop watch for “black ice”.  I was introduced to this phenomenon one frightening day when I found my car moving sideways down the highway at 60 miles per hour.

  • Walk with your feet pointed outward slightly.  It helps with your balance.

  • Walking on snow is easier than ice, so stay on snow whenever possible.  It will surely make the walk more difficult of but you’ll get the added benefit of an extraordinary cardio workout.

  • Keep your hands free.   Lean forward slightly and keep your arms out away from your body a bit more than usual.  This should provide additional balance and a brace should you in fact slip and fall.

  • Shorten up your pace.  Take short steps rather than your usual long stride.

  • Sidewalks are a bit of a problem.  Walking is easier but if they are shoveled clean they will usually have periodic ice patches.  If they’ve been salted it probably best to use them.  If not, snow depth permitting, it would be best to walk besides them.  As with all things you’ll need to exercise a little judgment when deciding which way to go.

Hey no one said it was going to be easy.  Walking safety in snow and ice can be troublesome.  But if you need to “get out and about”, just do it.  No need to be overly concerned.  Simply take a few extra precautions.  The important thing is to keep going.   Spring will be here before you know it.

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