Since we often hear that walking is beneficial for exercise, relaxation and wellness today felt like a great day to share my top ten wonderful walking workouts. Walking is an effective way for anyone to maintain and strengthen their lungs, heart, blood vessels, muscles, bones and joints. It is also an excellent way to help improve your emotions, energy and endurance.
Unfortunately due to the modern conveniences of elevators, escalators, moving walkways and various shuttles many people today are walking a lot less than they did in the past. Many people are also walking in ways that may actually be impairing their health and doing mild to significant damage to their bones, joints and ligaments.
Checking the Gait
When observing people it appears that as many as 80% may be walking with an unhealthy gait, unnatural foot positioning and poor posture which may be painful and physically harmful over time. This could easily be some of the primary reasons so many people suffer with foot, knee, hip, back and neck pain.
Read on to discover some of the most common walking issues and then discover what you can do to walk in greater harmony with how our body was designed. Once you are better informed about walking the way you were designed to walk you will discover that aches and pains often subside or vanish. You will also learn some great tips to turn simple walking into wonderful walking workouts.
Structural Physiology of Walking
To better understand the concepts of structural physiology watch runners and walkers with new awareness as they go through their range of motions and movements.
- What type of shoes are they wearing?
- Are they running/ walking with their feet parallel to each other or turned outward?
- Are they holding their head up with the body tall and upright or do they hunch over with a stooped head, neck and shoulders?
- Are their feet, ankles, knees and hips in alignment and graceful or do they look jerky, off balance or waddle like a duck?
- Do their arms, legs and torso glide easily along in a fluid and smooth motion or do they look like a robotic machine?
- Are they grimacing or smiling?
These observations can also help you begin to better understand the importance for improving your alignment and posture when you are jogging, standing or walking.
It is important to wear shoes that are properly designed, fitting and made. This is essential for your comfort, safety and support. Most people are wearing shoes that are designed for fashion and rather than proper fit. Often the heel is too high which creates an unnatural step which tilts the body forward out of structural alignment and starts a chain reaction.
This affects the correct alignment of the entire muscle and skeletal system. As the saying goes the toe bones are connected to the foot bones, foot bones are connected to the ankle bones which are connected to the leg bones, knee, hips, spine, neck and head bones.
When the feet are out of alignment you can easily imagine what happens to all the other bones in the body. This leads to excessive wear and tear on the skeletal system and often results in headaches, pain, poor posture and even physical ailments.
Walking is great exercise yet many people have a compromised gait, poor alignment and slow pace that results in minimal fitness benefits yet increased risk for injuries. Remember slowly strolling along is not the same as therapeutic walking. While some thing is better than nothing with a few enhancements you can enjoy major benefits with minor additional effort. The pace should allow you to comfortably carry on a conversation yet encourages deep breathing. When you experience full diaphragmatic breathes you are cleansing, energizing, and revitalizing your entire body.
To enjoy walking you need quality footwear: Buying excellent walking shoes and socks are one of the most important investments for your comfort, health and well being so seek expert advice.
Good pants or shorts, shirts, jacket or jumper, hat and water bottle are also important. Carrying a cell phone and having reflective materials are also important for your safety.
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- Enjoy daily walking routines to strengthen your cardio vascular system, improve lung capacity, reduce stress and enjoy nature. Commit to a family member or friend to walk and talk as you connect and share quality time.
- At least once a week enjoy a longer walk on a hiking trail (twice the distance of average daily walks) to enjoy new sights and sounds in nature.
- Add a small day pack to your walks. Carry a cell phone, jacket and water.
- Walking with water bottles in your hands offers a full body workout. Basic routines help you increase the benefits as you strengthen your arms and upper torso. Water bottles help also remind you to drink water and stay hydrated.
- Cross training is important for your fitness program. Leg exercises such as lunges, squats, toe raises and wall sits help build strength and prevent injuries. Core and weight training are a great compliment to your walking workouts.
- Begin walking up and down stairs as part of your walking routine or you can add in stationary step training using a adjustable exercise steps.
- Add forward, rear and side lunges to your walking routine. Do lunges without weights and then later with additional weight from water bottles, hand weights or a back pack.
- Increase your balance and coordination by modifying your walk with a combination of different walking patterns. Try walking backwards and adding in sidesteps. Also add in side step cross overs for improved agility, flexibility and stability. Modify your step patterns and speed to improve your overall leg fitness and tone. Be careful to choose a flat and safe area for these options.
- Set a goal to enjoy a challenging back packing trip, day hike or walking trek. An extended back pack trip into mountains, parks or woodlands is an amazing experience. The feeling of carrying your own food, sleeping bag, tent and water into the great outdoors is very rewarding. Enjoying the beauty and peace of nature can be quite life changing. Power walking and carrying a heavier back pack is also an excellent way to improve your stamina and strength.
- Walking bare foot is fantastic exercise and fun. Walking in sand is great for a full and natural range of foot motion which improves flexibility and strength. It also allows you to look at your foot prints to determine how parallel your feet are when walking. Remember it is important for the feet to be fully parallel when walking for proper alignment and functionality.[/colored_box]
Disclaimer: Be sure to assess your level of health and use common sense when beginning a new exercise, fitness or nutrition program. It is up to you to take full responsibility for your health and physical condition prior to beginning any program. Check with your health care provider or medical advisor to measure your biomarkers and health factors. It is important to monitor your statistics to insure long term health Walk in safe areas and remain aware of your surroundings. While many people run and walk with Mp3 players these easily distract you from your surroundings and result in many people being injured.
Japan has a long history of using therapeutic massage and reflexology which offers us a wise saying to reminds us, “Ten thousand diseases start in your feet”. You now have more awareness for caring for your feet and walking for health to avoid potential injuries and issues while enjoy more benefits. Now it is up to you take action and commit to enjoying the Top 10 Wonderful Walking Workouts for fitness, longevity and relaxation.
Mastery Action Plan
Ask a family member, friend or co worker to join you in committing to a consistent walking program to improve you emotional, mental and physical well being. Then set a specific outcome of 5, 6 or 7 days a week for the next 1, 2 or 3 months. This is an excellent way to totally love and support your self while enjoying even more vibrant energy and perfect health.
These habits can easily develop into life long health patterns for a long healthy life. Call someone today.
Our next blog post will share: Top Ten Benefits of Living Cuisine and Raw Foods
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