I recently fell and hurt my knee and over lunch discussed the injury with a friend who is a sports scientist as it was causing pain in my hip.
He explained that it was due to me compensating for the injury which caused inflammation. At the same time, he espoused the benefits of walking as a form of exercise. Walking is our primary mode of movement but unlike cycling or running we most probably have not considered it in ages.
Whilst it may not be as “fancy” as other forms of exercise it does have benefits. It does not strain your body like weights or running but it is worth adding to your fitness regimen.
The low impact means there is less stress involved so it can be performed regardless of your age, ability or skill set. And it is easy to build up an approachable regimen than tackling miles of running or heavy reps in the gym.
One has to remember that as outdoor folk we hike and walk often, so it’s beneficial to get the technique right. We can’t always be behind the wheel of a vehicle when we explore.
Cardio does not require high-intensity activities, just a quick stroll around your neighbourhood gets your blood pumping and is good for your heart and blood pressure.
In addition, it’s good for controlling blood sugar and helps your veins by preventing varicose veins.
It’s also good as a brisk walk keeps your joints and knees active. Despite the low impact.
Whatever you may think it also assists blood flow and muscle maintenance. When you are outdoors and do a few km you will be grateful you added walking to your exercise regimen.
It is good for your brain, you get away from your normal landscape and computer screens. This can lead to an enhanced feeling of creativity and energy. In addition, you break your routine, even if it is a 30-minute stroll. This also assists in curbing depression and anxiety.
You will burn calories while walking and will be surprised that it will assist in weight loss.
You do not necessarily have to walk in one big chunk. If you can you do two short fast walks every day. This breaks routine and is invigorating.
So how do we walk properly? This will benefit immensely when outdoors.
- Wear proper shoes or boots in rougher terrain. Well-cushioned running or trail shoes are great for the urban environment.
- Stand tall do not lean forward or to the rear.
- Look ahead to check the terrain as opposed to looking at your feet.
- Achieve a wide relaxed posture by trying to keep your shoulder blades away from your ears – no hunching.
- Alternate your arm swing with your legs, you are not marching. Your left arm should go forward with your right leg and vice versa.
- Swing your arms fully from your shoulder and not your elbow.
- Maintain a smooth hip sway which alleviates strain on your lower back.
- Roll from heel to toe, this is also beneficial to your back. As is watching foot placement. Walking in a “duckfooted“ fashion affects your spinal column.
Although a high daily step count is advocated walking at a lower step count is still good. If you want to add it to your fitness regimen up the ante in terms of speed, you should breathe better but still be able to hold a conversation.
Remember that this is a great way to explore the outdoors be it in the bush or even a local park. It does not have to be complicated but you should dress appropriately for the weather and take a rain jacket and water if you are not near your home. Staying fit can be a walk in the park. You won’t regret it on your next trail or hike.