Leslie Sansone really walks the walk. For 27 years, she has helped people get in shape by putting one foot in front of the other. Best known for her "Walk At Home" and "Walk Away the Pounds" fitness DVDs, she truly is America's fitness-walking authority. I recently was given the opportunity to interview Leslie via email, and the passion in her answers jumped off the screen.
Read on to see Leslie's answers to member-submitted questions, her #1 secret to keeping her walks fun and interesting, and her top 5 tips to starting a solid walking program.
Coach Nicole: How much of a role does walking play in your own workout routine?
Leslie Sansone: I love all of the ways that a body can be active, but walking is the ONLY workout I do on a regular basis. I am a former owner of a fitness center so I love group exercise classes, cardio machines, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, strength equipment and more. However, I don't use equipment consistently enough for total fitness. I follow my own along with traditional outdoor or treadmill walks as the foundation for my health and fitness. Everything else is just a bonus!
CN: For a beginner walker, what's more important: duration, speed or distance?
LS: Everyone that is just starting a regular routine of fitness should only have one goal: Don't allow anything to keep you from your walk. Do at least 5 minutes of brisk walking before you say, "I don't have time for this today," or, "I don't feel like it." The #1 rule to success is to do a very small "dose" of fitness walking each day. The beauty of fitness walking is that it has the lowest rate of soreness or injury.
Start with a goal of walking 1 mile—no matter how long it takes. This can be a part of your regular routine, three, four or five times per week. Once you can walk that mile, try keep working until you can do a mile in less than 20 minutes; slowly progress to a one brisk mile in 15 minutes. I believe we can all enjoy great health well into our later years if we can continue to walk a mile in 15 minutes! It's a great mark of personal fitness at any time of life!
CN: What are your top 5 tips for creating a safe and effective walking program?
LS: I always follow the essentials of fitness science:
LS: Walk Boosters! We have a full line of fitness products that BOOST the results of our walking workouts. These are safe ways to add light resistance to every step, use more muscle and burn more calories—it's so easy!
CN: How do you keep both your outdoor and indoor walks fun and interesting? LS: MUSIC! Music really moves the body and soul. When my music is motivating, my walks are SUPER!
CN: Why is walking so important and beneficial when it comes to health and fitness?
LS: I just read the gazillionth study that showed how exercise keeps the brain performing at high levels well into our later years, and we have decades of research proving people that engage in brisk exercise get sick less. Study after study after study after study proves this! Walking is the exercise that most of us can do for a lifetime; make it your sport for life!
CN: You've created a Walk Leader certification, where you and your experienced staff train everyday people to lead walks in their own neighborhoods—and make money doing it! How can exercisers find a walk group/class in their area and/or how can someone start their own?
LS: Thanks for asking this important question. We are so proud to announce that we have launched our Walk Leader training! We are going back to our roots as an organization, as I started leading group exercise classes in 1979 in church halls. Now is the perfect time to get back involved with our communities and help with public health reform. Healthcare is each of our personal responsibility. We can greatly reduce the high costs of disease care when we all practice preventative health care! Starting walk classes in communities all across the country is one way to make a positive change! We walk the world!
CN: I also asked Leslie Sansone fans on SparkPeople to submit some questions for Leslie. Here are three questions that we selected to ask Leslie on behalf of our members.
MOMMIEHAMPTON: Do you have any 5-mile walks in the works?
WOW! MOMMIEHAMPTON, you must be super fit to ask for the long walks! I do have a great 5-Mile Fat Burning Walk available anywhere DVDs are sold or on my website walkathome.com. A 5-mile walk is so perfect for weekends or always remember that you can use our Mile System anyway that you choose; do 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 miles any time of the day or night. That's why DVD's are so important to maintain a regular routine—they are there when you are ready to walk!
JENNIFERKCM: Leslie has a lot of great videos! She was a pivotal part of helping me to get moving again. She made it doable. One thing I hear a lot is how to "step up" her videos (make them more challenging, harder, etc) as our fitness levels increase (or desire a more intense workout). What does she recommend?
Hellllooooo JENNIFERKCM! My first recommendation would be to BOOST the walk with Walk Boosters and "Boosted" walking, which is actually mild jogging in place of the walking periods. Walk Boosters generally add light resistance to every step and you will really notice how your muscles change and become leaner! Or you may want to GO THE EXTRA MILE. An extra mile once or twice each week can really shake things up and help to drop weight or bust through a plateau. Walk on, my friend Jen!
DODAYLADY: My question for Leslie is this. I have always heard that you should only weight train every other day to let your muscles rest. On most of her DVDs only two-pound weights are used, so can you use a light weight like that on consecutive days?
LS: Great question DODAYLADY. It is always best to use weights on non-consecutive days; muscles do need rest days as part of their conditioning cycle. I would do just the walks some days and then use the weights on opposite days. This also keeps the muscles guessing by varying the intensity from day to day! Keep walking strong, my friend!
CN: I'd like to thank Leslie again for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers in such a thorough and thoughtful manner. Her newest DVD release, Walk Your Belly Flat 3-Mile Walk is available now, and I hope to review it for our readers soon!
Is walking part of your fitness program, too? Have you ever tried one of Leslie's walking DVDs? If so, what did you think about it?