We think walking is the “secret weapon” of exercises. In fact, done properly, a good walking routine could be the only aerobic exercise you need.
While everyone knows how to walk, many people are surprised to learn there’s more to it than lacing up your shoes and putting one foot in front of the other.
By tweaking your technique, you can make your walks more comfortable and more effective, which could inspire you to go faster and longer! Improving your posture while you walk will also help you look and feel more confident. And did we mention good walking posture magically makes you look a bit slimmer? Sign us up!
While it isn’t hard to walk with good posture and the right technique, it does take some focus. But like anything, the more you practice these moves, the more naturally they’ll come.
If you’re spending more time on your computer these days (who isn’t?), you know that “bunched up and hunched over” feeling all too well. Leave that slump habit at home when you head out for a walk. Keep your head high and body upright (imagine a string at the top of your head pulling you up like a marionette). This will give you a more powerful stride and help your muscles move through a greater range of motion. Try to catch yourself if you start slumping during your walk, and elongate whenever you can.
Keep your eyes on the prize
If you tend to look at your feet when you walk, you’re putting stress on your upper back and neck. So bring your gaze up and out, always looking about 15 feet in front of you.
Relax those shoulders
Shoulders have a sneaky way of creeping up toward your ears. Here’s the way to get them back where they belong: Roll your shoulders up, then back, and then down. You’re going for an “alert” but relaxed posture that should be comfortable for your entire walk. This posture not only decreases upper-body tension, it also helps your arms swing more freely.
Speaking of arm swings...
Your arms should swing back and forth from your shoulders, and your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle. The motion should be natural, like a clock pendulum. Don’t force it and don’t bring your arms across your body or higher than your chest (you’re not in the Olympics for race-walking — yet!).
Keep your pelvis neutral
You want your abs to be engaged, but don’t be tempted to tuck your tailbone under to get them there. It causes stress on your lumbar spine.
Slow your roll
The best way to hit your best smooth, quiet stride is to roll from heel to toe. And don’t make those strides too big; when you reach your leg too far out in front of you, it increases the impact on your joints and slows you down. Don’t be worried if your shins ache a bit when you switch to the rolling step. This is totally natural and will go away once you have a bit more strength in the muscles surrounding your shins.
Walk with a friend!
The best way to ensure good technique? Find a walking buddy. You can keep an eye on each other and offer corrections along the way. Walking with a friend will also help you stick to your regimen and have fun while you’re at it.