WHAT I DID Got hooked on volksmarching

WHY I DID IT Variety. I need variety. After I had a cardiac operation, the doctor said I had to exercise to stay alive. I bought a treadmill and started walking every morning. I was bored. I played videos while walking. I ran out of comedies. I was bored. I started walking a loop in the neighborhood. I ran out of loops. I took a volksmarch -- a walk along one of many routes sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association (www.ava.org). I walked in a different area, met new people, ate a bratwurst, saw new things. I had fun.

HOW IT WORKS On weekends volksmarches are put on by many walking clubs in the Washington area. We've taken historic walks at Mount Vernon, Gunston Hall and Leesylvania, Oktoberfest walks at Fort Belvoir, Halloween walks in Rehoboth, winter walks in Williamsburg, harbor walks in Baltimore and cherry blossom walks in the District. Every walk is different. That's the critical thing, since I'm not the type of person to do the same walk again and again.

When we travel, we walk some of the 1,600 year-round volksmarches scattered across the United States and Canada.

THE RESULTS I'm still having fun after 7,000 kilometers and 600 events. I'm still alive after nine years. I just passed a stress test. I did much better than most people my age. Works for me.

-- Robert Holt, Fairfax

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