Walking for Fitness

It's easy to turn any walk into a significant calorie burner by paying attention to technique and playing with pace.

There are the levels of cadence and mixing them up is best done by landmarks (e.g. on the park, go level one between first two trees, then level two between next two trees then level three between next two trees and then repeat), or by using time (e.g. 30-20-10 seconds, again repeating the format 1-2-3).

Walking for fitness technique tips are as follows:

Level 1 - Health Walking

Be aware of your posture, draw the shoulders back and down, pull the navel toward the spine and feel tall, finding a position for our head that results in the least possible amount of stress on the neck muscles. Arms should be almost straight and swing from the shoulder, not the elbow. Also be aware of contact in the floor with the heel first, feel the weight transfer down the outside of the foot, across the ball and then actively push off the big toe. The aim is to concentrate on technique here – it's like meditation in motion.

Level 2 - Fitness Walking

Take a slight lean forward from the ankle but keep the posture long, as in Level 1, don't stoop. Now bend the elbows to a 90-degree angle, pump the fists forward/up and elbows back/up. Finally, work the ankle, pulling the toe back as you place the heel down, then almost kicking off the big toe. The legs should straighten but with soft knees, if you lock the knee out you'll notice a rise and fall as you walk and it will feel jerky – the aim is to travel smoothly.

Level 3 - Speed Walking

Increase the forward lean, again ensure this is full-body, not just a hunch forward of the shoulders and/or chin. Pump your arms really quickly. This is key, as it's very difficult to walk slowly when your arms are going like crazy. Shorten the stride length slightly and try to imagine walking a tightrope, i.e. the feet are placed one in front of another, as a wide stride will slow you down. This should feel like a sprint, you should only be able to maintain this for around 20 seconds.

For more information about fitness, please feel free to browse our other articles and pick up some tips to get your regime back on track.

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