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Prevention's Complete Book of Walking
by Maggie Spilner
2000

Some of the best books for exercise newbies come from reformed couch potatoes. Maggie Spilner's case is even more extreme - when she became Prevention's walking editor, she was agoraphobic, meaning she had a fear of open spaces. Eventually she overcame her phobia, and along the way she learned a lot about walking. For those who haven't yet started an exercise program, this book offers a wealth of information and inspiration.

Everything you need to know to start a walking program is included here (and you probably thought you got started by just walking out the front door and up the street, right?). A good pair of shoes is necessary, and athletic socks are nearly as important. You need to ease into an exercise program so you don't burn out. Stretching and strength training will enhance both your walking program and your health. Would gadgets such as pedometers and heart meters be helpful? Spilner addresses all these issues, and more. She explains how to keep motivated, and for those who are ambitious, she explains how to train for Volkswalks and competitive events such as 5Ks (her information on walking a marathon, however, is rather skimpy).

The good news and bad news about this book can be summed up in one sentence: it reads like a 292-page Prevention article. If you enjoy the magazine's approach - highly motivational, but not overly deep and detailed - then this book has a lot to offer. If you want something more serious and scholarly, then look elsewhere. Bottom line: if you're new to exercise, walking is one of the very best ways to start, and Maggie Spilner's book has all you need to get going. After you've been walking for a while, you may want to explore other books on the subject for more specific, detailed information.

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