Walk away

Use these tips and walk your way to health

Walking is the most easy-on-the-body kind of exercise, yet it delivers health benefits equivalent to jogging and swimming. Here are some tips to make walking even better for your health:

Walk faster. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? But there is a catch: do not use longer steps. Simply increase the number of steps per minute. Taking longer, unaccustomed strides increases strain on the muscles and tendons.

Vary walking surfaces. It takes nearly 50 per cent more calories to walk on sand than to walk on a tar road. Walking on grass or country roads burns more calories than walking on asphalt.

Wear the right shoes. Good walking shoes have soft flexible soles, and stiff heel supports that prevent sideways motion. The right shoes ensure you do not stress your foot arches and ankles when you walk.

Swing your arms faster. Swing them the way marathon walkers and speed walkers do in the Olympics — they flex their elbows to 90 degrees and swing hard at the shoulders. This burns 10 per cent more calories compared with regular walking.

If you are on a 4 km walk, walk faster during the 2nd and 3rd km. Interval training improves cardiovascular fitness, increases speed, improves stamina, burns more calories, helps break-through a plateau and conditions the body for increased workout times. Walk up and down inclines.

Walking uphill burns more calories per step and provides the ideal workout for calf muscles. Walking downhill strains the knee joints and tendons, so walk downhill slowly. Or get a ride downhill and climb uphill again.

Walk backwards. With all these open manholes and maniacal drivers on the roads this is one exercise best left to a familiar athletics track.

But walking backwards has its advantages: it uses different muscles compared with normal walking and it is a great form of cross-training.

Hand-weights. Walking with dumbbells that weigh upto 5 per cent of your body weight boosts your exercise intensity. This is not a good exercise for those with hypertension or heart disease. Go easy on the arm swing during this exercise.

Finally, walk more. Do you really need a car for every small chore?

Take more steps every day: walk up the stairs, and go for a walk instead of settling down in front of the TV.


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