10 Questions with Walking Guru Leslie Sansone

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Leslie Sansone really walks the walk. For 27 years, she has helped people get in shape by putting one foot in front of the other. Best known for her "Walk At Home" and "Walk Away the Pounds" fitness DVDs, she truly is America's fitness-walking authority. I recently was given the opportunity to interview Leslie via email, and the passion in her answers jumped off the screen.

Read on to see Leslie's answers to member-submitted questions, her #1 secret to keeping her walks fun and interesting, and her top 5 tips to starting a solid walking program.

Coach Nicole: How much of a role does walking play in your own workout routine?
Leslie Sansone: I love all of the ways that a body can be active, but walking is the ONLY workout I do on a regular basis. I am a former owner of a fitness center so I love group exercise classes, cardio machines, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, strength equipment and more. However, I don't use equipment consistently enough for total fitness. I follow my own along with traditional outdoor or treadmill walks as the foundation for my health and fitness. Everything else is just a bonus!

CN: For a beginner walker, what's more important: duration, speed or distance?
LS: Everyone that is just starting a regular routine of fitness should only have one goal: Don't allow anything to keep you from your walk. Do at least 5 minutes of brisk walking before you say, "I don't have time for this today," or, "I don't feel like it." The #1 rule to success is to do a very small "dose" of fitness walking each day. The beauty of fitness walking is that it has the lowest rate of soreness or injury.

Start with a goal of walking 1 mile—no matter how long it takes. This can be a part of your regular routine, three, four or five times per week. Once you can walk that mile, try keep working until you can do a mile in less than 20 minutes; slowly progress to a one brisk mile in 15 minutes. I believe we can all enjoy great health well into our later years if we can continue to walk a mile in 15 minutes! It's a great mark of personal fitness at any time of life!

CN: What are your top 5 tips for creating a safe and effective walking program?
LS: I always follow the essentials of fitness science:
  1. Our bodies need "rehearsal" time—that's a warm up!
  2. Next we need a safe way to increase intensity. A gradual increase in pace will get us to the speed we need for health-enhancing results.
  3. Maintain that brisk pace for at least 12 minutes. We can get aerobic training effect in as little as 12 minutes a day!
  4. A safe transition to bring heart rate back down—that's a cool down walk.
  5. Stretch. The BEST time to increase flexibility and range of motion is when muscles are super warm, and that is always AFTER a brisk walk or any aerobic exercise.
CN: What's the next step after walking? Once your DVDs become easier or someone has walked for a while and is ready to take it to the next level, what do you recommend?
LS: Walk Boosters! We have a full line of fitness products that BOOST the results of our walking workouts. These are safe ways to add light resistance to every step, use more muscle and burn more calories—it's so easy!

CN: How do you keep both your outdoor and indoor walks fun and interesting? LS: MUSIC! Music really moves the body and soul. When my music is motivating, my walks are SUPER!

CN: Why is walking so important and beneficial when it comes to health and fitness?
LS: I just read the gazillionth study that showed how exercise keeps the brain performing at high levels well into our later years, and we have decades of research proving people that engage in brisk exercise get sick less. Study after study after study after study proves this! Walking is the exercise that most of us can do for a lifetime; make it your sport for life!

CN: You've created a Walk Leader certification, where you and your experienced staff train everyday people to lead walks in their own neighborhoods—and make money doing it! How can exercisers find a walk group/class in their area and/or how can someone start their own?
LS: Thanks for asking this important question. We are so proud to announce that we have launched our Walk Leader training! We are going back to our roots as an organization, as I started leading group exercise classes in 1979 in church halls. Now is the perfect time to get back involved with our communities and help with public health reform. Healthcare is each of our personal responsibility. We can greatly reduce the high costs of disease care when we all practice preventative health care! Starting walk classes in communities all across the country is one way to make a positive change! We walk the world!

CN: I also asked Leslie Sansone fans on SparkPeople to submit some questions for Leslie. Here are three questions that we selected to ask Leslie on behalf of our members.

MOMMIEHAMPTON: Do you have any 5-mile walks in the works?
WOW! MOMMIEHAMPTON, you must be super fit to ask for the long walks! I do have a great 5-Mile Fat Burning Walk available anywhere DVDs are sold or on my website walkathome.com. A 5-mile walk is so perfect for weekends or always remember that you can use our Mile System anyway that you choose; do 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 miles any time of the day or night. That's why DVD's are so important to maintain a regular routine—they are there when you are ready to walk!

JENNIFERKCM: Leslie has a lot of great videos! She was a pivotal part of helping me to get moving again. She made it doable. One thing I hear a lot is how to "step up" her videos (make them more challenging, harder, etc) as our fitness levels increase (or desire a more intense workout). What does she recommend?
Hellllooooo JENNIFERKCM! My first recommendation would be to BOOST the walk with Walk Boosters and "Boosted" walking, which is actually mild jogging in place of the walking periods. Walk Boosters generally add light resistance to every step and you will really notice how your muscles change and become leaner! Or you may want to GO THE EXTRA MILE. An extra mile once or twice each week can really shake things up and help to drop weight or bust through a plateau. Walk on, my friend Jen!

DODAYLADY: My question for Leslie is this. I have always heard that you should only weight train every other day to let your muscles rest. On most of her DVDs only two-pound weights are used, so can you use a light weight like that on consecutive days?
LS: Great question DODAYLADY. It is always best to use weights on non-consecutive days; muscles do need rest days as part of their conditioning cycle. I would do just the walks some days and then use the weights on opposite days. This also keeps the muscles guessing by varying the intensity from day to day! Keep walking strong, my friend!

CN: I'd like to thank Leslie again for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers in such a thorough and thoughtful manner. Her newest DVD release, Walk Your Belly Flat 3-Mile Walk is available now, and I hope to review it for our readers soon!

Is walking part of your fitness program, too? Have you ever tried one of Leslie's walking DVDs? If so, what did you think about it?

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CKEYES1 9/30/2020
I think a warm up is important Report
GRANDMOTHER20 9/28/2020
I love Leslie’s workouts they have made such a difference. Thank you. ?? Report
Thank you! Report
DAWNGW 8/31/2020
I recently discovered her walking videos on YouTube, during this pandemic. I really love her workouts and her positivity! Report
JUDY1676 8/24/2020
Thanks Report
READYSETGO326 8/11/2020
I love Leslie! Report
INDYROSE2 8/7/2020
Leslie and I are "old friends." Her DVDs are my go-to when I'm not feeling up to a heavy workout, or when I just want to hear a positive voice. Report
INDYROSE2 8/7/2020
Leslie and I are "old friends." Her DVDs are my go-to when I'm not feeling up to a heavy workout, or when I just want to hear a positive voice. Report
NIGHTGLOW 7/30/2020
First two links are broken in this piece. Neither the link to the author's name nor to her products go to active sites. Report
I enjoy walking with Leslie. Report
2DAWN4 7/10/2020
Love her DVDs! Report
RYDESKS 7/4/2020
Awesome tips. I do not usually stretch after a walk. I will add that to my routine. Report
SSTOUT4 6/2/2020
I love doing Leslies workouts. I got her walk at home app on my phone and can do a workout anywhere. Report
COVEGIRL1 4/23/2020
I have one of her DVD"s I do it when I can't get outside to walk. Report
DIETER27 4/22/2020
I've been doing her you tube workouts and have one of her dvds.
Great way to get in the exercise .
Thank you.... Report
LIS193 2/15/2020
Love her “Miracle Mile” set, did those DVD’s for years.. “mamba with your mama” Report
BEASGIRL 2/4/2020
I have been using Leslie's DVDs for over 30 years! She's a great motivator. I found myself "getting to know" her regulars on the videos and feeling as if they were all friends of mine. Report
PAMBROWN62 12/11/2019
I have been using Leslie’s WATP for years. I love the variety found on YouTube now so the workouts never get old and I can choose the level and intensity I want/need for any given workout. These workouts have helped me lose, and keep the weight off. Report
2BDYNAMIC 11/10/2019
Love Leslie's DVD's! I bought her set of Miracle Mile with a great stretch band. I love exercising with her and the videos are great to use on days I can't get outside! Report
SUPERMOM_13 10/28/2019
I'm a big fan of Leslie Sansone.
I do at least one or 2 of her videos on YouTube Daily. I hate working out but her Videos make walking fun. Report
My colder weather go to! WOOHOO!!! Report
love walking with leslie = ) Report
thanks for the share Report
Love Leslie and have the set of five miracle walk plus stretch bands. Never
get tired of it! Report
Love her DVD's Report
I prefer Nicole's videos.. Report
I love her walking videos!! I choose to walk with her instead of friends!! Even when I don’t feel well or am tired I walk with her!! Thank you so much Leslie!! Report
I have no place to walk in bad weather, but I can consistently walk at 16min mile! Report
Loved the article. Will check out some of the resources mentioned. Thanks Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
I love Leslie Sansone workouts! I have the Walk it Off in 30 days and a handful of other DVDs by her. Love them all! Report
I have about 4 of Leslie's DVDs. You really work up a sweat with her!! Love her walks! Report
I love walking! Report
Very helpful ideas. Report
I've walked with Leslie's DVDs for years and yet somehow this year I have not used them as much. I need that walking time again so thanks for the reminder. I'll be putting her tips to use. Report
thanks! Report
I've always loved walking and running since I was a little kid. Now that I'm back into exercising; walking keeps me motivated to try other things. Thanks. Report
I LOVE to walk. I walk on M, W, and F. Report
Disagree with her on the using weight issue. She is probably stating that out of an abundance of caution, knowing some people don't know when using weights are too much for them personally. If you have a great deal of muscle built up, 1or 2 pounds of weight bearing are nothing--you probably do more than that in your everyday life. I use some amount of muscle stress or weight almost daily. I have been doing this since my 30s and am currently in my 60s. If you are just beginning weight training, then yes, you need to be more cautious, and I would follow her recommendations. Report
I have some of her walking videos...love walking with leslie! Report
I have a few of Leslie's videos - she's great at what she does. Report
Very interesting Report
Any though this article is almost nine years old, I enjoyed it. I spend a lot of time with Leslie via her Dvd's. I love her walks! Report
They are my "go to" exercise tapes. Sometimes I use others, but I know I will get a great workout with Leslie and they are within my coordination level! Truly appreciate them!! Report
Have several and need to get them out! Report
I love her videos. I am coordination and rhythm challenged (Still can't do the Electric Slide, no matter how many times I've been taught) and I have no problem following. There are no tricky combinations, the music helps so much with keeping the pace, and her interaction with the people is great and you feel like she is talking to you, not at you. (Had one "walking" video where the instructor kept saying "we are burning butter!" I wanted to choke her by the end of the tape.) Report
Dearly Beloved and I generally walk a minimum of two miles every time we are out. Report
I walk with Leslie. I do the three mile every morning and two after work at night!
Very interesting thank you Report