We crawl before we learn to walk.
We wog before we learn to run.
Wog? That's right, W-O-G.
Wogging is a word used in some circles to describe
a combination of walking and jogging, or walking and
running. You may not have heard the term, but this
way of exercisingis far from new, fitness experts say.
"It's a catchword for what we all do," says Michael
Hewitt, exercise physiologist and research director
for exercise science at the Canyon Ranch spa in
Tucson, Ariz. "We like to attach labels to things but if
you look at any 8-year-old kid, they're wogging.
They'll run for a while and then walk when they get
tired, and then run again. Kids are smart, and kids
So do adults who are trying to make a transition
from walking to running.
Woggers, Hewitt tells WebMD, are people who want
to be runners, but don't yet have the muscular
endurance to run.
"It's what we've been teaching people for years and
years," says Julie Isphording, former Olympic
marathon runner and host of "FIT: Fitness
Information Talk" and "On Your Feet," two popular
health and fitness radio shows aired on National
Public Radio in and around Cincinnati.
Isphording trains people to become runners by
interspersing short bouts of running into their walking
"Whenever you embark on a fitness program and
you want to become a runner, you start by walking,"
says Isphording. "Then you set a goal, like from this
stop sign to the next corner, I'm going to run. You
keep building that until you're jogging."
Even some people in the fitness industry haven't
heard the term "wogging," say Dave Sellers, "Ask
the Experts" editor of Runner's World magazine, but
all are familiar with the workout that intersperses
walking with running. In fact, he says, there is a new
segment of people who are running for fitness and
camaraderie rather than to win races.
"These folks have helped to spur the tremendous
growth in running (slowly) for fitness among late-
blooming recreational exercisers," says Sellers.
There are great benefits to including a little running
in your walking routine. Even adding a few minutes
of running can help you burn more calories, build
stronger bones and boost your fitness level, say the
experts at Runner's World magazine.
"It offers an exerciser a way to increase intensity,
reduce musculoskeletal joint stress associated with
doing too much of any one repetitive motion, and
create more challenge and variety to his or her
workout," says Kathy Stevens, a Reebok master
trainer and member of the board of certification and
training for the Aerobic and Fitness Association of
It can also improve your cardiovascular fitness, by
increasing your endurance.
"It's similar to interval training," says Hewitt. "By
taking short little dips into that anaerobic (high-
intensity) zone, you train the body to tolerate a
higher level of respiratory challenge."
Many people are candidates for a walk/jog program.
Before starting any new fitness routine though,
experts advise checking with your doctor to be sure
you have no limitations.
Exercise physiologist and WebMD Weight Loss
Clinic sports physciologist Rich Weil says a walk-run
program works best for someone who's already been
walking at least 30 minutes consistently a few times
per week and wants to start running.
"The idea is, over time, you increase your jogging
time and decrease your walking time," he says.
You do that by setting up intervals, says Weil. Let's
say you already walk 30 minutes. One day, decide
that you'll walk for five minutes and then jog for one
or two. Repeat that pattern until you've finished the
workout, and, over time, continue to lengthen the
time you jog and shorten the time you walk.
Runner's World magazine has a 10-week plan to take
wannabe runners from two-minute intervals in week
one to a full-fledged, 30-minute run by week 10, simply
by adding one to two minutes to each running interval
each week (while reducing the same number of
minutes spent walking).
"The reality is that you can improve your fitness
walking or running or a combination of the two," says
Hewitt. "Asking your body to do just a little bit more
than the comfort level allows, you're teasing your
functional limitations -- teasing that edge."
Of course, as with any new program, the hardest
part of wogging is sticking with it.
"The first step is the hardest in anything you do,"
Isphording says. "It's always two weeks of hell when
you first start. Your body's adapting to something
new and so is your mind."
Here are her tips for starting -- and staying with -- a
Buy a pair of running shoes before beginning. They
are lighter and absorb more shock than walking
Get a workout partner. Having someone else to
answer to will keep you more honest, and more
Have written goals. "It's important to have a plan, so
everyday you're not saying, 'oh, my gosh, I didn't go
as far today,'" says Isphording.
Keep a journal. Looking back on your progress can
be a great motivator, and can help you detect
patterns that lead to difficult workouts.
Have a goal or dream. And whether it's running a
marathon or a neighborhood 10K, she says, "don't
lose sight of that."
Ask lots of questions, and don't be afraid to ask
more experienced athletes for their advice. "People
help change you," Isphording says.