It is vital that you learn how to walk properly with the right technique to get the maximum benefits for your health – and that includes exercise benefits on health and weight loss benefits for those who want to shed a few pounds.
Exercise and weight loss are the two most popular reasons why people take up walking.
You should observe certain do’s and don’ts to get the proper posture, the correct movements of hands, proper feet placement, the speed with which to walk, and how to breathe while walking.
All these tips will add grace and a confident look to your walking style.
Over time, a gradual increase to a 30 minutes daily walk will build up benefits that will improve your health and mind.
And yes, choosing the right time of the day also contributes to making your walk more beneficial. Another piece of advice would be to walk alone. Walking is a serious affair. Doing it with others will interfere with your speed and time.
How to walk correctly? 9 useful tips
Whatever be the reason for your walk, following these tips will allow you to walk with confidence and grace. These tips apply to both men and women.
1. Pre-walk warming up
Always warm-up for a few minutes before resuming your walk. Do a little stretching before you start walking and keep your speed slow for the initial five minutes.
Why should you warm up?
Warming up increases the body temperature and the heart rate, preparing your body for a more intense walk. It also makes you less prone to injury.
More blood circulates in the blood vessels including the small capillaries, delivering extra oxygen to the working muscles.
2. Preferred walking speed
Start your walk at a slow and comfortable speed and then gradually increase the pace. The preferred speed of walking is the speed, with which you choose to walk and are comfortable with.
Most people tend to walk at the normal average speed of 1.4 meters/second, which is 5.0 km/hr or 3.1 mph. This is the speed with which most normal healthy humans are comfortable.
Walking speed by age
According to the Wikipedia:
“Specific studies have found pedestrian walking speeds ranging from 4.51 kilometers per hour (2.80 mph) to 4.75 kilometers per hour (2.95 mph) for older individuals and from 5.32 kilometers per hour (3.31 mph) to 5.43 kilometers per hour (3.37 mph) for younger individuals; a brisk walking speed can be around 6.5 …”
3. Proper walking style
No two people walk the same. So stick to your normal style of walking because you are going to be more comfortable that way.
Maintain the right posture while walking. Do not bend your head forwards.
Keep your neck straight and chin up so that your ears are in line with the shoulders. What we mean by chin up is that the chin should be parallel to the ground.
Your shoulders should be relaxed and in line with your waist. Do not slump. Keep your chest up. This is how you will maintain the right posture while walking. Ensure that you stay that way during the entire walk.
5. Your feet while walking
When walking, land your feet on the heels of your feet, which does occur naturally.
Then roll your foot and let the front of your feet follow on the ground. Spring into the next step by pushing with toes of the foot, which is on the ground, using your calf muscles.
This sequence of movement may tend to become disturbed when you increase the walking speed, so concentrate and stick to it .In due course, it will become natural even at a higher walking speed.
6. Your hand movements
When walking, move your hands from front to back. Your hands should not cross your body.
Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees and swing your arms to about 45 degrees angle to your body. Do not swing your hands too much. To increase speed, the faster you swing your arms, the faster the legs will follow.
7. Where to look
Look straight about 20 feet away on your walking path. Do not look down at the ground.
8. How to breathe
Breathe naturally through your nose and deep to inhale in the oxygen in the air. Walk fast enough to get tired but do not go out of breath.
When tired, your lungs are asking for more air and the small nooks and corners (the alveoli) of the lungs have opened up.
Taking deep breaths will give that extra oxygen to these small cells of the lungs and the blood will get enriched with a good amount of oxygen.
9. Walking strides: Proper foot placement
To increase the speed, short and quicker steps are better than long strides.
Mistakes that you make when walking
- Do not take long strides to walk fast. Your feet land wrong, your muscles are unnecessarily strained and you tire faster.
- Do not look down at the ground.Doing that will disturb your correct posture.
- Do not swing your arms and hands too much. Stick to as explained above.
- You tend to slump while walking. Keep your attention on your posture. Later, it will become a force of habit.
These mistakes do nothing but waste your effort and do not give the full value and benefit from your daily walk.
Over time, you will learn to walk for health in a graceful manner and with confidence. Just make sure you have chosen the right walking shoes. It will make things easier.