Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door. Walking is the simplest form of exercise. You can walk your dog. You can walk to work. You can walk over to the printer. You can walk on a treadmill.
Walking is the American Heart Association's recommended way to start an exercise program. Walking with a pedometer is a great way to track your steps and really get a handle on your calorie burn and walking distance. That being said, there are wonderful ways to get more out of your walk.
You can try LEKI Nordic Walking. This program uses ski-like poles to engage upper body, it’s easy on the joints, burns up to 46% more calories than walking without poles, which can result in an oxygen consumption by 20%.
You could try a technical walking or core balancing shoe, like Skechers Shape Ups, geared at providing an unstable walking platform, higher profile to increase hip extension and dual density midsoles to increase muscle contractions.
Walking 10,000 steps a day equals approximately 5 miles or a 500 calorie output. This amount of walking could lead to a 5 pound weight loss by the end of the month without any other changes.
To improve your walking posture and alignment, I recommend my 5 “Walk-ilates” TM moves. Once you have been doing a considerable amount of walking daily, you’ll find these moves help you improve your walk, strengthen and stretch the muscles around the hips, and improve total movement patterns.
Heel Walking - Walk on your heels for 30 paces at lease 3 times during your walk. Heel walking provides a natural stretch on your calf muscles and helps strengthen the shin muscles. The balanced muscle patterns can help prevent “plantar fasciaitis” a common ailment in walkers.
Side Walking - Start walking sideways for at least 30 seconds leading with the outer thigh and closing the step with the opposite leg. Then return to your forward movement. Repeat this drill every minute for at least 6 minutes to help strengthen and stretch your “IT Band”, inner and outer thighs, and gluteal and hip rotator muscle groups.
Cross Over Walking - Start walking sideways with the back leg crossing over then behind the lead leg. Some people call this move a “grapevine”. I believe the pattern can help strengthen the smaller muscles supporting and stabilizing the hip and knee joints.
Waist Whittler Walking - Walking with arms bent and elbows out to the side at shoulder height, increase your upper body rotation and walk a little bit slower. Perform this movement pattern for 1-2 minutes each time you step out.
Toe Turned Heel Rock - Starting in a split stance and the back foot turned inward, roll the heel up and down keeping the back leg straight and the front knee bent. This heel lift and stretch will help strengthen the calf muscles and stretch the hip flexors. Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
Andrea Metcalf is author of Naked Fitness and creator of the Walk-ilates programs.