Walk away the lockdown blues
In creating lockdown guidance, the Government recognised the value of outdoor exercise to both mental and physical health in allowing us to venture outside once each day. As we enter the forty-something day of lockdown, now is a great time to look at how we take on our daily exercise in the great outdoors, and who better to help us than Ragdale fitness expert, Dean Hodgkin….
Walk away the lockdown blues
Perhaps due to the easy access, no cost and the fact that most of us do it every day, walking is possibly the most undervalued of workout modes yet its value in burning calories and so helping to achieve weight-loss goals, is priceless – especially at a time when many of us are making more trips to the fridge than usual! Being low impact it’s also kind on the joints so it’s ideal for those starting out on their fitness journey, as many are doing now, primarily due to having more time to do so.
We all know regular walking has many physical health benefits, however the key benefit of getting outside for a walk is the proven uplift in mood state, linked to immersing yourself in nature and so stimulating all your senses, in turn leading to you feeling less anxious, less lonely and less depressed which can be invaluable at this incredibly challenging, stressful time.
To ensure you obtain the optimum fat-burning and health benefits from walking, it’s important to learn the basics, so here’s the low-down on technique for 3 levels that will enable you to turn a simple stroll into an interval based fitness session. Simply mix up the speeds, either in a set sequence, e.g. 30 secs of each, 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 or totally at random varying time and speed as you wish.
Walking at a comfortable pace, focus on posture by lifting up through the centre of the body, relaxing the shoulders down and swinging the arms in rhythm with the stride. The arm swing should be from the shoulder (rather than the elbow) and the arms should not cross the centre line of the body. The length of each stride should be comfortable and on planting the heel, the toes should be raised toward the shins. Next, the foot rolls from heel to toe and then pushes off. Intensity 4-5 out of 10
Takes us up to a very brisk pace and is achieved by bending the elbows to 90 degrees allowing the arms to maintain a faster swing which causes an increase in stride frequency. Avoid swinging the arms side to side like windscreen wipers, keep the elbows close to the body and concentrate on just a forward backward movement. The legs should not be straight as the aim is to produce a smooth motion and a locked knee can cause a bobbing or bouncing action. As speed increases so will hip rotation but it’s important to allow this to occur naturally rather than wiggling the hips. Increase the forward lean, which should come from the ankles and not the waist, to protect the lower spine. Intensity 6-7 out of 10
This is all about speed! Concentrate on increasing stride frequency, not stride length and pumping the arms, particularly a high lift behind of the elbows will assist this. On contact, exaggerate the lift of the toes and move smoothly from the heel to the ball of the foot in a continuous rolling motion and add a strong push off the big toe. To help increase speed, narrow the stride width a little, like walking on a tightrope rather than train lines. Lean forwards from the ankles as this will give a feeling of being able to push against the ground harder. It will also help to avoid over-striding that can slow down the pace. Intensity 9 out of 10.