What is the most important thing I can do to improve my health today?
This is #2 in the series. Last time we talked #1, which was to cook (or to cook more). You can read all about that, here!
So, what’s #2?
I know, that’s really boring, huh? Walk?
The funny thing is that for years, walking has been over-prescribed for the wrong reasons, and under-prescribed for the right reasons. What do I mean by that?
Since I’ve been in the fitness industry, trainers and diet experts have told people to walk more. Park farther from the door, take the stairs instead of the elevator, make more trips to the car to carry the groceries in. That’s all well and good, but these diet experts have told you this because they want you to burn more calories. Then, along comes the next trainer or diet expert, who tells you that walking doesn’t burn many calories, so you’d better do something more that walk.
You know what? They are both right! Walking doesn’t burn many calories unless you walk A LOT or are pretty heavy.
You know what? Walk anyway.
It’s not about the calories, it’s about movement. Proper movement, at that, meaning no treadmills allowed.
What does proper walking do?
- stimulates circulation of blood, and increases circulation in area where it’s often restricted
- helps the body circulate lymph fluid
- natural low load activity to tone pelvic floor and glutes (you’re booty)
- allows you to counteract ‘computer posture’ by way of the reciprocal arm swing
- helps digestion
- elevates mood
- get the lower body out of the ‘hip flexed’ position, restoring muscle length after long periods of sitting
- promotes bone strength because of the vertical loading of proper walking
What is proper walking?
I hope you noticed that I wrote “proper walking,” not just “walking.” While walking is good, proper walking is important to proper health and to reap many of the benefits, above.
Proper walking features:
- free hands, because arm swing is important for a gentle chest stretch and proper fluid circulation (no holding water bottles, phones, or iPod. Holding hands is fine, because love is important, too).
- head aligned over shoulders, not jutted forward
- push off with your glutes (you might feel like you’re speed walking, at first)
- feet pointing straight
- walk heel>mid-foot>toe, not outside heel>mid-foot>inside-toe (this is the very common practice of striking with the outer heel, and allowing the foot to roll inward as you take each step. Don’t do this; it is improper.)
It might seem complicated and unnatural at first, and that’s ok. Walk a little more each day, and do your best to follow the steps of proper walking. Pretty soon, you’ll be walking properly without paying attention, and all those health benefits will be yours for the taking.
Yes, walking is more than the calories. Walking is health, but rest assured that calories will be burned!
Can you walk, properly, 1-2 times this week? If you already walk a lot, can you step it up and walk 1-2 times more?
Find opportunities to walk. Walk to the store, listen to a podcast, buy an audio book, listen to music, get a buddy who loves to talk. Make your opportunities!
Some of you will say you already walk the dog. Cool, walk more, without a leash in your hands (and when you do walk the dog, use a very long leash that allows slack).
Let’s do this! Go forth and walk!
Next week, I bring you #3 easy change to improve your health.
#1 – Cook (or cook more)
#2 – Walk (and walk more)