Walking is easy, right? You just put one foot in front of the other. While that’s true, over time your body can start to change the way you walk.
For example, if you have one foot that has a lower arch than the other, you might begin to walk with an irregular gait to compensate. Tight shoulders also affect how your arms swing. When you learn to walk with proper form, you begin strengthening your body from head to toe and you won’t have aches and pains.
Let’s start at the top…
Your head and neck position
Stand tall and feel how your body is stacked. Your head is positioned above your neck, which is the top of your spine and extends down through your core to your hips. Standing, you should ideally be able to draw a straight line from your ear down to your shoulder, to your hip, knee and ankle.
Most people tend to have a head that juts forward a bit, shoulders that round forward, or hips that tip. Posture is something that can be improved over time. Become aware of your posture. Walk with your chin parallel to the ground, looking straight ahead of you.
Look about twenty feet ahead of you.
Arms and shoulders
Work to relax your shoulders. Swing your arms naturally with your arms bent at about a 90 degree angle. Your hands should be relaxed too. If you find yourself clenching your fists, try to shake your hands out and relax a bit.
Swinging your arms as you walk helps you walk faster and it burns more calories. Your arms should swing naturally and be about waist level. Swinging your arms also helps prevent your hands from tingling or going numb which can happen on long walks if your arms hang at your sides.
When your feet hit the ground you should hit heel first and roll toward your toes. Your heel strike should be gentle to avoid a harsh impact. Your stride length should feel natural and your knees should stay soft. It’s better to take shorter strides and walk faster than to take long strides.
Long strides can put an unnatural force on your joints.
Before you head out for a walk, consider taking some time to stretch your muscles and get your body ready for a bit of exertion.
Walking is great for your mental and physical health. It’s easy to do, fun to do and it takes very little to get started.
Small steps reap large rewards
It’s a good idea to create a walking program that gradually increases over time. Don’t try to accomplish too much right away. Walking for fitness is a habit you’re trying to add to your life. If you aim too high, the new habit may feel too overwhelming.
Small steps help you build a pattern of success. They allow your body and your lifestyle the time you need to adapt to your new fitness walking program. As you successfully reach your daily, weekly, and monthly goals, you’ll feel more confident and in control.
What’s a reasonable goal to set?
Here are a few examples:
100 more steps each day
Increase your pace by ten seconds per mile each week
Add five minutes each week to your walking time
All three of those goals probably look manageable. That’s the best way to approach a new fitness program. Before long you’ll be walking 10,000 or more steps each day, clipping away at a four miles per hour pace and walking for an hour and a half or more.