We all know how to walk, right? Well, our bodies were built for walking, but it always helps to pay attention to our form and how we walk to help make walking effective and enjoyable.
* Practice good form: Chin up, chest out a bit, and shoulders held slightly back.
* Swing your arms purposefully as you walk (it will also help burn more calories).
* The heel of your foot hits the ground first; weight rolls inward toward the arches; then push off with the toes.
Warm up and stretch
It is always helpful to get your body warm before starting any exercise, including walking. A good way is to walk a bit slower for the first five minutes or so, and to do easy stretches for some of the muscles you will use:
Stand 3 feet or so from a wall. Lean forward with your hands on the wall, like you're going to push the wall away. Bend one knee toward the wall and keep the other straight, foot flat on the ground, toes pointed forward. You should feel the stretch in your calf muscle (just above your ankle, on the back side). Bend the other knee toward the wall and stretch the other side.
Pull your right foot behind you, grabbing it with your right hand (like you're going to kick your own rear end). Knee points straight down. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Great for the quadricep muscles (front, upper leg)
Side stretches: Reach one arm high and over the head, like you're trying to touch the ceiling. Put the other hand on your hip. Lean the hand that is straight up in the air off to the side (like you're going to touch a wall on the opposite side). Hold for 10 seconds and repeat for the other side. Keep shoulders straight and hips steady.
Knee stretch: Stand with back against a wall. Pull one knee up and to your chest, hands on the knee, keeping your back against the wall. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Toe touches (straight leg and spread): Stand straight with legs straight, then slowly bend forward at the waist, reaching your hands out and down toward your toes. Don't worry if you can't touch down to your toes, and do not stretch to any point of pain. Hold for 10 seconds. Stand up, with feet apart just a bit wider than shoulder width. Reach right hand down and across toward the left toe and hold for 10 seconds.Then repeat with the left hand toward the right toe. Good for the hamstrings and lower back.
Remember to stretch slowly, to breathe when you stretch, and never to stretch to the point of pain.
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