Fitness: Walking

April 1, 2018 pixelmark

Walking | man walking

It’s Just What the Doctor Ordered

Written by Cassie McClure and Jessica Muncrief

The simple joy of walking offers up numerous health benefits. The American Heart Association says walking for as little as 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, maintain body weight, enhance mental well-being, improve blood lipid profiles, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancers, and Type 2 diabetes.

Fortunately, Las Cruces offers over 300 days of sunshine per year, and an abundance of safe—and often scenic!—walking trails. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a heart-pumping challenge, it’s never been easier to pop into gear and start walking, right in your own backyard.

“I started walking because it helped me with stress, and now I just walk because I enjoy it,” says Las Cruces resident Lisa Mendoza. “My favorite trail is in Sonoma Ranch. I park my car at Jack in the Box and walk on Sonoma towards Lohman, but I turn around at La Camelia Drive. That is a total of six miles. I’ve done that trail so many times and I just love the variety of different inclines. The hill by the New Mexico State Police Department is really tough, but you can’t beat the scenery.”

In 2010, New Mexico Health Care Takes on Diabetes decided to take advantage of New Mexico’s awe-inspiring scenery in an effort to combat the growing rates of the metabolic disorder. They created a program called Prescription Trails, which finds and gives accessibility grades to local walking routes.

Initially, it was a means for local doctors to provide their patients with inspiration and new routes to kick start their new health routines, but now it’s grown to encompass all walk-minded individuals. Trails are graded by difficulty and surface material. Grade one trails are asphalt and concrete, while grade twos are crushed rock, and grade threes are natural dirt or grass.

Walking | crowd walking together

The City of Las Cruces’ Parks and Recreation Department also maintains a map of walking and biking trails, as does the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau. Many offer stunning desert and mountain views, with one of the most popular being the La Llorona Park trail which runs parallel to the Rio Grande.

Want to give it try? Check out these five trails in and around Las Cruces, and next time you’re traveling to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, or any of your other favorite destinations around the state, check the Prescription Trails page for fun walking ideas.

Want to give it a try?

Prescription Trails

City of Las Cruces

Las Cruces CVB

Check out these five trails in and around Las Cruces!

Tellbrook Park
4290 E. Winchester Road
Grade 2
One Loop = 0.25 Miles
• Exercise Equipment
• Play Structure
• Sandbox
• Basketball Hoop
• Dog Friendly (with leash)
• Restrooms

Apodaca Park
801 E. Madrid Ave.
One Loop = 0.6 Miles
• Play Structure
• Open Fields
• Tennis Courts
• Dog Friendly (with leash)
• Wheelchair Accessible
• Benches
• Picnic Tables
• Water Fountains
• Restrooms

La Llorona Park
3491 W. Picacho Ave.
Trail Length: 3 Miles
• Playground
• Picnic Tables
• Paved Trail
• Interconnects with Other Trails
• Restrooms
• Distance Markers
• Dog Friendly (with leash)

Triviz Trail
1719 E. University Ave or 2500 N. Triviz Drive
Trail Length: 4.6 Miles
• Paved Trail
• Wheelchair Accessible
• Interconnects with Other Trails
• Lighting
• Dog Friendly (with leash)

Alameda Arroyo Trail
2961 N. Roadrunner Parkway
Trail Length: 0.75 Miles
• Paved with Adjacent Dirt Trail
• Wheelchair Accessible
• Desert Scenery

Walking the Walk

1. Posture is key. Keep your head up, your back straight, and your arms at 90 degrees. While swinging arms might be the iconic power walk imitation, your arms should actually be at your sides and pumping naturally with your stride. Take care not cross them over your chest as it can put you slightly off balance.

2. Watch your foot movements. Strike with the heel, roll onto the ball of your foot, and push off with the toes. Take short steps and restrain from inadvertently starting to jog. Imagine gliding along the surface of your path, and keep your head in a straight, forward line.

3. Use your core. Strengthening your core—that is, generally speaking, your stomach and mid and lower back muscles—helps keep your stride more consistent during walks. Try incorporating planks or using an exercise ball to train for balance and strength.

4. Check in with your heart. Use the Karvonen Formula to determine your target heart rate training zones. Strive to reach a training intensity level of 60 to 70 percent.

The Karvonen Formula

Calculate your target heart rate like this:

1. 220 – Your Age = Maximum Heart Rate
2. Maximum Heart Rate – 70 = Heart Rate Reserve
3. (Heart Rate Reserve x Percentage of Intensity) + 70 = TARGET HEART RATE

Walking | young woman in red shirt walkingExample of 60% intensity level for a 40-year-old:
220 – 40 = 180
180 – 70 = 110
110 x .60 + 70 = 136 beats per minute.

5. Don’t give up! When beginning to walk with more intensity, you might feel soreness in the muscles at the front of your lower legs, and you might get fatigued faster than you thought.

The post Fitness: Walking appeared first on Las Cruces Magazine.

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