There are many reasons to go out for a walk, whether it is a 20 minute lunch break stroll or an entire day spent hiking, it is one of our most favorite ways to improve our physical, mental and emotional health.
We also know you love walking too – our recent survey showed that a grossing 83% of you love to walk for exercise. Whether you are short on time or just want to make the most of your walk, we have got some great ways to take things up a notch.
Consider your walking style
If you are really pushing yourself to the limit, a part of your brain should focus on how you are feeling. “When I’m walking I’m constantly thinking – “are my feet landing as they should? Are my abs tight enough, and leading me forward? Are my shoulders positioned back and down?” This way I am getting the most out of every step” says the fitness expert and personal trainer Roger Love.
Make sure to breathe properly as you walk
Oxygen is energy when it comes to walking, or in general. ‘I like to really fill my entire lungs with air. I think of it as double breathing – I breathe twice as hard as usual,’ says Roger. ‘If I usually breathe in for three steps, or for three seconds, then I will breathe out for three seconds also. And when I am breathing out I make sure I empty my lungs and expel stale toxins from my muscles and lungs,’ he adds. ‘It’s great if you’re starting to flag, as it gives you an extra burst of energy.’
Use your arms to power your walk
Advice says to keep your elbows bent for 90 degrees, but not everyone recommends that angle. ‘I think that feels unnatural, like you are power walking, 45 degrees elbow bent is better – it feels more comfortable, yet still allows you to get the benefit of that extra movement,’ says Roger. Give yourself some extra momentum by swinging your arms from your pockets area to halfway up towards your ear.
Relax your hands as you walk
You might not always focus just on your hands, but every little helps. Some people fists them and this can spread tension up your arms, go into your shoulders and affect your posture and results. ‘Imagine you are holding a baby chick – something that needs to be held gracefully and carefully,’ says Roger. ‘We call this “soft and engaged”. Your fingers are curled, they are active and working, or dynamic, but they are not tense.’
Measure your progress with a fitness tracker
An amazing 27 percent of the population now has a fitness tracker of some kind, according to recent surveys, and they can be a great motivational tool, both in terms of moving more and increasing your intensity and pace. Whatever you focus on, it appears that the act of measuring your activity alone can encourage you to do much more, as a recent study found that people who used trackers to count their steps in walks and runs as part of a walking program had a more active lifestyle several years later than those left to their own devices.
Walk with purpose to gain confidence
You might think body language is all about making a good first impression, but it’s much more than that. ‘To be effective, walking needs to be done with purpose and vigor,’ says Roger. ‘I always say it is like walking down a corridor at work to make a complaint! You should walk with your chest up and stuffed, but with focus and dignity, and purpose and pride – that’s how purposeful you should look. Walk like you are really going places, and feel confident about what you are doing.
‘A lot of my female clients states that they found that they are then able to bring this confidence over into their day-to-day lives – into the office and the home, so that’s another benefit.’