A Walk Isn’t Just Good Exercise. It’s Also a Chance to Practice Walking
It may sound strange to think about practicing something we’ve all been doing since we were toddlers. But going for a walk is a perfect opportunity to generally improve the ways you move. Use your walks as a chance to focus on:
Body awareness – Pay close attention to how you’re moving. Are your strong glute and thigh muscles driving your movement? Is your body relaxed as you stride? Ideally, you’re moving forward in a smooth, slightly rolling motion with your arms swing loosely in opposition to your step (your left arm swinging forward as you step with your right foot, and the reverse).
Posture – Remind yourself to keep your chest up and pelvis tucked, so your backbone is in its neutral, slightly S-curved position. Pull your shoulder blades together in the back, letting your arms hang at your side. Try to keep your neck in line with your back and your chin up. Think of this as your “proud walk” –straight and tall.
Breathing – Inflate your lungs fully as you’re moving, and exhale slowly until they are emptied. Not only will this send more oxygen through your system, it will encourage good posture.
Gait – Many hip and knee problems can be eased by correcting issues with gait, which can be subtle. A good trainer or physical therapist can spot dysfunctional habits you may want to work on. Meanwhile, are your feet and knees pointed in the direction you’re going, or do they drift inward or outward? Do your feet maintain their arches, and are they aligned with your hips? Does your walk demonstrate economy of motion, or does it involve extraneous movements, like arms pumping from side to side?
When you turn your walks into mini-training sessions, you’ll be building good habits of movement every time you hit the walking trail.