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Program encourages fitness

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Walking is what Liz Knowles is all about. She thrives on the times she is able to get out and walk, whether it is in the early morning, at her lunchtime or even after work.
Now she is sharing her knowledge of the benefits of walking with members of the YMCA. She has started a new program,"Walk Free," held at 7 p.m. on Mondays at T.R. Miller High School's track. Participants walk for an hour at their own paces.
"Several years ago the Y sent me to this workshop in Mobile," Knowles said. "I think they were ahead of the times. People had not heard as much about the benefits of walking as they have now. I was already a walker and had been a long time. When I was pregnant with my first child 20 years ago, I was worried about the amount of weight I needed to gain. My sister, Vivian Layton, talked to me about the value of walking and I consider that knowledge to be a gift that was shared with me when I needed it."
Knowles said she would like to share her gift with others and let them learn the values of simply walking. That is the reason she came up with the program, "Walk Free."
Knowles said that she calls herself a "streetwalker" because she is known to walk all over town. She has done it for so long people along the way, and other walkers who are out doing the same thing, recognize her and give her a wave as she runs by.
Walking is a sport that doesn't require a lot of equipment. A good pair of running shoes is about all one needs to get off the couch and get moving.
Walking can trim the tummy, she said.
Walking is less stressful than running and most people can do some amount of walking.
A study of Amish people in Canada shows these people who shun modern conveniences and power machinery eat the same way they did before World War II. Even though they eat a high fat, high sugar diet they are remarkably fit. Only four percent were obese and 26 percent were overweight. How did they do it? They did it with hard work and lots of foot power. The men average 18,425 steps a day and the women averaged 14,196 steps a day.
For those who are interested in getting into the walking program, Knowles urges them to get involved by contacting the YMCA at 867-9622.