You may find this hard to believe but for a walk to do you any good, you must walk in a particular way. There are three kinds of walkers in the fitness world: performance walkers who consider walking as an integral part of their daily exercise routine; health walkers who are walking exclusively for health benefits; and the third type is the casual country walker who enjoys recreational or offroad walks. Walking techniques are usually simple and concentrate on posture, foot and arm movements.
Posture is all important―the head should be centred and aligned with the spine and you should have your chin up and parallel to the ground, your chest lifted, shoulders down and pulled back.
Simultaneously, the stomach should be pulled in and the hips tucked in firmly beneath your abdominals. Imagine that a rope is pulling you up or that you are balancing a book on the top of your head.
Before you start off, begin with some stretching. Most people go for a walk in the morning, after sleeping for about seven hours at night. Remember that while you sleep, the muscles of the body contract and are stiff. Loosen up the muscles and joints with a series of head and shoulders rolls followed by stretches for the hamstring and calf muscles. Do the quadriceps stretch as well; hold stretches for 15 to 20 counts till you feel a mild tension.
Once the muscles have been stretched, you’re ready to begin walking. Start off at a comfortable pace. Increase the speed and distance you cover gradually over weeks, never days. Take 14 to 15 minutes to cover every kilometre in the first few days. The country walker swings his arms casually in a style that he is at ease with. Do what you are comfortable with.
Plant your heels firmly on the ground and roll through the feet, pushing off with the toe. Here, the entire foot rolls from the heel through the arch to the ball of the foot and toes. The stride should be comfortable and there should be a certain rhythm in your walk. This kind of walking routine is suitable for all age groups, including for the convalescing patient, the old and the young.
This country walking technique is for those who want to begin on a fitness programme and are looking for a low intensity workout. However, if you are looking to walk seriously, it is a good idea to scout around on the internet and watch trainers walk. Use their fitness tips for getting the maximum out of your walking workout. But before you begin, make sure that you invest in a good pair of walking shoes.
Another tip is that you keep water at hand for hydration. Muscles contain a lot of water, so this water content must be replaced as you sweat it out. The advantage of walking is that it can be done at any time, any place, and can be adjusted to suit individual needs. If you walk with friends and keep changing your walking paths to break the monotony, there is nothing you will enjoy more. It is a natural activity with a very low risk of injury, and you will soon reap the benefits of a good walk.