How to Make Walking Pay Off
By Sandy Schroeder
Everyone knows walking is basic. All you need is a pair of walking shoes and a little motivation, but now we are discovering there is more to it. A few more steps are needed to make walking really pay off with real health dividends.
It turns out the technique you use could make your walk more fun and effective. You could find yourself walking farther and faster, gaining strength and dropping pounds when you perfect your stride.
The Overall Payoff
You can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 30 percent if you walk 2 1/2 hours a week, or about 20 minutes a day. Walking also cuts the risk for cancer and diabetes. It keeps you mentally alert and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. A university study found the obesity risk for women dropped five percent with each minute of brisk walking.
Perfect the Technique
The first step is to walk with a stronger, more flexible stide.
Stand up straight – Avoid bringing any computer hunches or slouches on your walk. Also skip leaning backward. Open your spine, as if you had a string pulling your head up to the ceiling. Then extend your body, opening the space from the bottom of your ribs to your hips.
Look straight ahead – Avoid stressing your upper back and neck as you look down. Look forward about 10 feet.
Roll shoulders up, back and down – Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears as you ease your upper body movements.
Swing arms from shoulders – Move the arms freely back and forth from the shoulders, not across the body or above the chest.
Keep the body neutral – Don’t overarch your back or let your abdomen sag, Keep your abs tight.
Step heel to toe – Roll the foot lightly. Never move with a heavy, flat-footed step. Move lightly with an easy stride.
Make Walking Part of Your Life
Once you have your stride perfected, use it every day with 30 minutes of walking. Make walking a natural part of your day.
- Do a 15-minute morning walk and another session after lunch
- Walk with your kids after work
- Walk with a buddy in the evening
- Walk the dog
- When you travel, walk around the airport
- When the weather is bad or time is short, use a treadmill.
Over time, walking may feel as natural as breathing. That’s when the dividends may pay off with less stress, less weight, and more energy.
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Caldwell, N.J.