Walking started as a fitness trend when ancient vertebrates took their first steps.
And no wonder the sport has legs. It’s the simplest, easiest and most accessible form of outdoor exercise. It’s low impact, requires no special location or equipment beyond decent shoes, and most people can do it. Its benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic, include lower blood pressure, decreased bad cholesterol and increased good cholesterol, reduced diabetes risk, mood and cognitive improvement and, of course, the ever popular weight management.
Some people like walking but want to take it, well, a step further. Enter a couple of souped-up styles of perambulation: Nordic walking, which involves using specially designed poles; and race walking, which is walking really fast without breaking into a run. Both can be practiced outdoors on trails and sidewalks, or indoors in an uncrowded space. But they require more attention to form and, in the case of Nordic walking, a bit more equipment.
Both are particularly popular among older people. They’re rigorous but not risky, don’t require club or team membership, can be done either alone or in groups.