Walking is the simplest and most underrated type of aerobic and weight bearing exercise, totally natural, simple and safe.
Oddly enough, compared to other activities you can do after a meal, walking is one of the few activities that can be done just after eating and can, in fact help aid your digestion. It can be done anywhere, at anytime, and by any age group. It is low cost, low skill, low impact, and needs no special skills.
However, it is important to have good supportive shoes and comfortable clothing, thin layers rather than one thick layer.
There are enormous benefits to walking – the most commons are
- Helps to reduce heart disease
- Reduces stress, especially when stuck in a office
- Improve bone density
Speed increases those benefits. The infographic illustrates the other benefits of walking:
Brisk should mean slightly out of breath, but still able to hold a conversation comfortably. You should feel that you could carry on indefinitely. For those who need a challenge, it can incorporate hills and speed circuits, such as interval, continuous or rolling. While exercising, make sure chose a variety of surfaces to protect the joints and prevent shin splints.
Good posture is important in order to get maximum benefit, and avoid stress on the knee, hip and spine. The head and chin need to be balanced as if “a string is coming out of the top of the head”, to keep the ears above the shoulders. The shoulders should be down and back, with the chest open and up – “a string pulling the breastbone up”. The abdominals need to be pulled in order to provide stability and to protect the lower back.
Use a foot roll with each step. Land the heel first, rolling through the length of the foot to the toes before the next step. Use the arms to set the speed. Quicker arms mean quicker feet. The elbows should be bent at ninety degrees, and the arms should swing back and forth, but no higher than the breastbone. One should aim for a speed of around two miles every thirty minutes at a steady pace.
To sum up, walking should be done on a daily basis, and even a brisk ten minutes will have a training effect. With any form of exercise, it is important to warm up first, and gradually cool down afterwards to prevent blood pooling and varicose veins. Walking on the spot and then gradually moving through the heel to toe is ideal. Stretch out while the body is still warm, and pay real attention to the calves and the hamstrings.
Blog post by Kathleen Turnbull: BA Hons BAWLA AoR FHT CNHC REPs