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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WARRIORGIRL121 2/19/2019
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
NETTY129 1/18/2019
I have about 4 of Leslie's DVDs. You really work up a sweat with her!! Love her walks! Report
KHALIA2 1/4/2019
I love walking! Report
MNABOY 12/28/2018
ALEXTHEHUN 11/23/2018
Very helpful ideas. Report
LIVINTODAY 11/12/2018
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
RYCGIRL 11/11/2018
thanks! Report
SPINECCO 10/25/2018
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
KHALIA2 10/3/2018
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
DWROBERGE 6/19/2018
Very interesting Report
2DAWN4 5/17/2018
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
KMF2019 5/5/2018
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
BONNIE1552 4/12/2018
Have several and need to get them out! Report
HWNHMMBRD 4/6/2018
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
GETULLY 3/19/2018
Dearly Beloved and I generally walk a minimum of two miles every time we are out. Report
MERCY20141 3/12/2018
I walk with Leslie. I do the three mile every morning and two after work at night!
NASFKAB 3/9/2018
Very interesting thank you Report
SKBURSKI1 3/3/2018
Love her videos. I get them on YouTube because she posts new ones all the time. Report
I have been walking with Leslie for 13 years. I have different dvds of hers to vary my workout and they are all great. As she says “Walk Strong!” Report
Thanks for sharing Report
I have several of Leslie's workout Videos and before my Back surgeries I did Walk away the Pounds religiously. I will get back to exercising as soon as I get the go ahead from my Doctor. I also visit the Gym 2 to 3 times a week, I am 70 years young in February :-) Report
I've tried a few workout videos, but I love what I've done of Leslie's walks. The 3 mile walk I do is challenging enough to feel like I've worked hard, she's easy to follow, and there are always variations if something is too hard or not hard enough. And the whole time she's just so perky and encouraging that I'm always smiling at the end :-) Report
Right now, it's 10° outside. Walking with Leslie is the only way I can maintain fitness. I'm 74, have chronic bronchitis, and walking outside, though it's my favorite way to walk, is out of the question on a day like today. Report
Leslie was my aerobics instructor back in the 80's in New Castle, PA. and that was before she started her ''walking program". I believe she was the first instructor recognized by the government for that program. Report
I love walking with Leslie! Report
I love walking with Leslie Sansone. Report
Thanks for the tips. I walk with Leslie too. Report
I love Leslie's DVDs! I have a lot of them and have used them for years. Report
I walk with Leslie too! Thanks for the tips! Report
Walking is still my favorite exercise and how I got back to exercise. Started with a 10 mins walk before I left for work and added from there. Report
When the weather is bad, I walk with Leslie. Report
Good interview. I just bought one of her DVD's but haven't tried it yet. Been walking outside. Report
Walking with Leslie is great. I started doing just the 1 mile walk and now I'm up to the 3 mile walks with boosters. every now and then I will get a 4 mile walk in.
Love Leslie's DVD's! They are great to use on days I can't get outside! Report
I own every one of her DVDs and love all of them I pick a different one each time I work out. Report
I'm a big fan of her DVDs! Report
This sounds like something that I might be able to do. Just not any jogging though, my ankle will not have that. Report
I have Leslie's Walk Slim DVD and I LOVE it ! What a great way to get in a 1 or 2 mile walk ~{I haven't tried the 3 mile walk on the DVD yet!}. She makes it FUN,motivating ,AND EASY TO DO at home! Report
I'm convinced. Used her 1 mile then 2 mile walk consistently during the winter when could not get out or wanted to stay in. Peppy presentation.
Convinced my husband to join me on those days and sometimes he does them by himself. Other times we encourage each other with the 2 mile walk and see if we can make it all the way. I never feel I "have" to do the full 2 miles since I've have hip surgery and now a knee hurts. Key to any of these dvds - modify! Report
I really love the dvds, but I wish it was labeled as one with jogging if it has jogging. I bought a couple that said there was a four mile hour, but she had us jogging for part of it. So that's not pure walking. I can actually walk pretty fast, and was looking forward to doing the four mile hour walk with her. Next one I get will be for beginners, because she really threw me for a loop when she started jogging! Report
I love Leslie's DVDs. When I first started exercising again, I walked outside. Unfortunately, the weather doesn't always cooperate, and Florida summers are suffocatingly hot, so I was so glad when I found Leslie's workouts. I first did them online, but it didn't take long for me to buy a set of two with a resistance band. Her workouts are my main form of exercise. I plan to keep buying her DVDs so I can get even more variety in my workouts. If it weren't for Leslie, I probably wouldn't be exercising much at all, but with her I get my workouts in everyday, sometimes two or even three times a day. I even do a mile on my break at work. Thank you SP for putting the word out about Leslie, and thank you Leslie for getting me off the couch and moving toward a healthy lifestyle. Report
I absolutely love Leslie's DVD's. I have a growing collection so my walks are never the same. Report
I loved her DVD s and used them regularly , and then I broke some from over using I guess, :(...gotta get some more.. Report
I just discovered Leslie's DVDs recently and I've been enjoying them a lot. I'm trying to keep up a consistent exercise routine using them. Report
I use Leslie's dvds in conjunction with other workout programs, especially on days I want an easy going workout and I can go at my own pace.

Now that the weather is warm, its time to take Leslie for a walk outside. ;) Report
I am totally addicted to these workouts!!! Report
I love her programs. Her programs always work for me. I am back on track and the Walk Away the Pounds DVD's are a part of my program! Try any of her DVD's, you can not go wrong! Thanks Leslie-you are awesome! Report