Numerous pretty parks and trails make it easy to increase your physical activity

Excuse me, but have you been putting on a little weight lately? I'm only saying this for your own good. You could stand to lose a pound or two -- or 20. I love you, honey. I just want you to be healthy.

Sound familiar? That's because more than half of U.S. adults -- 59.2 percent -- are obese or overweight, based on body-mass index, a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

Pennsylvania is slightly over average: 59.5 percent of adults here are obese or overweight, according to the latest Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control. Bad enough, but that's up 10 percent since 1995.

And at one Allentown school, obese and overweight students increased by one third over the city-wide average seven years ago.

"Obviously, we have a real problem here," says Barbara Stader, director of the Allentown Health Bureau.

We have a solution, and it's a step beyond the sensible advice to eat less and exercise more. Millions of steps more, in fact.

"Walking is probably the easiest, cheapest way to increase physical activity," says Aaron Katz, a family practice physician at West End Medical Group, Cetronia. A few years ago, Katz, a longtime proponent of walking, helped develop the Wildlands Conservancy's Walk For Wellness program, a series of walks throughout the region that were offered to Morning Call readers as the Walk This Way walking series.

During his residency project, Katz says he saw "a significant increase in the number of persons doing some physical activity, just by asking if they were doing it and suggesting they should. We hoped we would see an additional increase if physicians gave patients maps of walking trails near their homes," he recalls.

Katz still touts the benefits of walking. In addition to burning calories, walking increases aerobic activity, blood flow and metabolism. This can help improve the mental health and mood of the individual, says the doctor, which may cut back on the overeating people often do as a way of dealing with stress.

Started back on June 29 and every Tuesday for the next 15 weeks, the Morning Call will publish maps and directions to one of the most scenic, enjoyable walks in the Lehigh Valley region.

(MORE)


WALK FIFTEEN 2004

The Final Walk...


PEACE VALLEY NATURE CENTER
14 miles of trails along Lake Galena near Doylestown in Bucks County go through woods and wetlands and include well-groomed foot paths as well as hiking trails in the mature woods. Peace Valley has lots of birds and wildlife.

TO GET THERE

Take Rt. 309 to Rt. 313 East. Go 12.2 miles to New Galena Rd. Turn right on New Galena Rd. and go 0.7 mile to Chapman Rd. Turn left on Chapman Rd. and go 0.3 mile to parking lot.

LOCATOR MAP: Peace Valley

PAST WALKS

WALK #14: Glen Onoko Run

WALK #13: Tyler State Park

WALK #12: Skippack Creek

WALK #11: Beltzville St. Park

WALK #10: Grey Towers

WALK #9: Stover Park

WALK #8: Palmer Rec. Path

WALK #7: Locust Lake St. Park

WALK #6: Graver Arboretum

WALK #5: Nolde Forest

WALK #4: Blue Marsh Lake

WALK #3: Fr. Creek St. Park

WALK #2: Hickory Run St. Park
WALK #1: Tekening Trails

THIS WEEK'S
LEHIGH VALLEY HOSPITAL
WALK TIP

Partner Up: Walking partners keep each other motivated to stay on a disciplined routine. They also help walk time elapse faster and challenge each other to walk more challenging courses.

MORE: Why Walk?

TIP: 'Fuel up' wisely

PAST WALK TIPS

TIP #14: Interval Training

TIP #13: Squeeze Those Abs

TIP #12: Track Your Steps

TIP #11: Speed It Up

TIP #10: Burn Baby Burn

TIP #9: Armed for Speed

TIP #8: If the shoe fits

TIP #7: Improve Your Mood

TIP #6: Skip the Viagra

TIP #5: Dodging Diabetes

TIP #4: Listening to Music

TIP #3: Toning Your Body



TIP #1: Live Longer

GET THE SET

This summer, we'll present a different Walk It Off destination every Tuesday in A.M. Magazine and online here at mcall.com. These walks are part of an initiative against heart disease offered by the Wildlands Conservancy's Walk for Wellness II program.

A complete set of trail maps for 30 destinations, 15 of which will be shown here, is available for $20 plus $3.95 for shipping and handling. Contact the Wildland's Conservancy at 610-965-4397, ext. 40 to order.