Former Olympian talks the talk, walks the walk at Penn State Fayette

Roy E. Yarbrough, an AAU All-American race walker and past member of the U.S. Olympic Track Team, visited a kinesiology class at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, Thursday, April 3, to speak about the importance of cardiovascular fitness.

Yarbrough, a professor and author, also is a physical fitness adviser for several national sports organizations in addition to his roles as a national instructor for the American Sports Education Program and a certified recreational sport specialist. He brought his expertise to the Fayette campus at the invitation of a former student, Stephen Oberly, who is now an adjunct professor.

Oberly invited Yarbrough to guest-lecture his fitness walking class in order to give his students another perspective on fitness. He said, “Functional walking is something that translates into our everyday living and everyday functioning. That is why walking is such an important aspect to fitness in general.”

Yarbrough emphasized the importance of cardiovascular fitness to the class. He told the students that many people who exercise are not doing so properly. He said, “A lot of people think they are exercising, but they are not stressing the heart in the target zone. Cardiovascular-wise, they are fooling themselves.”

Even though many people walk for exercise, they do not know the art of walking, according to Yarbrough. In his lecture, he stressed that fitness walkers can improve their cardiovascular health: “That is what I was trying to get across to the kids today — cardiovascular-wise you can generate pretty good speed and get a pretty good workout.”

Yarbrough demonstrated proper walking techniques and had the students check their heart rates before starting to walk. He then put the class through its paces, after which they again checked their heart rates, some of which were surprisingly high — although this was not a surprise to Yarbrough. He said, “When I do race walking, a lot of them are sitting there thinking, `Well, I know how to walk, but I really didn’t know how to walk.’”

That sentiment was echoed by student Megan Coll, who stated, “I learned that fitness walking is a lot harder than people may believe, and that there is a lot of technique that you have to use instead of just using your legs.”

Agreeing with her classmate, Hannah Aello added, “I think having Dr. Yarbrough here to teach us was a great experience overall because I could never say that I had this experience without this class.”

Last Updated April 14, 2014