Take A Walk! (And We Mean That Literally)

As women, we know that life isn’t always a walk in the park—but it can be!

Now that the weather is finally nice, there is no time like the present to get outside and bust a move.

The great thing about walking for fitness is that it’s a “two-fer”—you can take a walk and catch up with a friend at the same time, not to mention exploring someplace new. And if, like some of us, you need even more motivation than that, we’re providing you with a number of excellent walking paths paired with a nice place to stop for a bite at the end as a reward for your hard work!

Here are some fun facts about walking, provided by North Shore trainer Tony Duncan:

  • Walking an extra 20 minutes a day will burn off seven pounds of body fat per year.
  • On average, every minute of walking can extend your life by 1.5 to 2 minutes. That’s a great tradeoff!
  • To burn off just one plain M&M candy, you need to walk the full length of a football field. Ouch.
  • Shorter, faster walks (20 to 25 minutes at 75 to 85 percent max heart rate) are best for conditioning your heart and lungs.
  • Longer, moderately paced daily walks (40 minutes at 60 to 65 percent max heart rate) are best for losing weight.

Duncan also suggests that you follow these simple guidelines to get the most out of your walk:

  • Do a complete pre-stretch.
  • Hydrate well—it is the key to safety.
  • To burn extra calories, walk with a 2-pound weight in each hand.
  • Finish your walk with a 2-minute cool-down, and make sure to do a complete post-stretch.
  • Enjoy your lunch—guilt-free!

Here are some North Shore walks that we’ve enjoyed:

Evanston: Head to the lake. Park your car on one of the nearby side streets (try Dempster or Greenwood) and hotfoot it over to the lakefront. There’s a great path that you can follow north up and around the Northwestern campus along the shoreline. We like to walk all the way around the reservoir and back to Greenwood Beach, about 3.5 miles. Afterward, head over to Central Street Cafe for a tasty sandwich or salad.

Glencoe: Botanic Garden, here we come! Grab a map of the Botanic Garden and wander on one of their abundant and beautiful paths. When you’ve had your fill of scenic beauty, head over to the Botanic Garden Café for a light lunch. You might even find a table outside.

Lake Forest: The Middlefork Savanna in the Lake County Forest Preserve has a relatively new, four-mile gravel trail for hiking and biking, and is a scenic area well worth exploring. Afterward, find respite at MarketHouse with iced tea and a delicious salad.

Northfield: Park at New Trier West, and take a walk through the Forest Preserve located nearby. There are lovely trails through the lush green forest, and when you’re done, drive over to Three Tarts Bakery (301 South Happ Rd., 847-446-3444). Have some of their fabulous tomato bisque and a chicken salad wrap, grab a table on the patio, and relax. You’ve earned it!

Skokie: The Skokie/North Shore Sculpture Park is the perfect blend of natural and artistic beauty. Set between McCormick Boulevard and the North Branch of the Chicago River, the Sculpture Park runs for two miles between Dempster Street and Touhy Avenue. You can park in one of three free public lots and walk the 2-mile stretch and back while perusing the thought-provoking artwork. Hop back in your car and head for Guan (2426 Main St. in Evanston) to enjoy their fresh take on Asian food (and the lunch specials).

One more tip: if you are wondering just how far you walked, use this neat trick: Go to usatf.org/routes, where you can plot out your exact path and determine the distance traveled. There are a million walking routes out there to discover … make one your own!

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