Walk To Better Perspective
Walking does more than just burn calories. In fact, a stroll in the park may help break negative and self-critical thought patterns. A new study from Stanford found that people who walked in areas filled with lush, green trees had lower activity in the part of the brain that controls negative rumination compared to people who took strolls on city sidewalks. So next time you tie up your laces for a walk, wander somewhere scenic for a sense of perspective.
And as always, make sure you turn your walk into a workout with the 4 must-try tips below.
- Start With The Core
The foundation of any walking workout is to maintain good posture…and that starts with your core! Poor posture weakens your abdominal muscles and minimizes the flow of blood and oxygen to your muscles and brain. Imagine a string coming out of the top of your head, pulling you up. Then, tilt that long body forward slightly, tilting from the ankles, not the hips or the waist. Contract your abdominals so that your pelvis shifts forward slightly, to keep your spine in a neutral position. Don’t arch your lower back or stick your butt out.
- Maintain Your Stride
Speed burns. Your body is comfortable at your normal walking pace, because it’s working efficiently. But when turning your walk into a workout, efficiency is your enemy. As with a fuel-efficient car, the most efficient pace burns the fewest calories. As soon as you walk faster than your normal “around town” pace, your body starts using more oxygen and burning calories at a higher rate. Focus on taking more steps, not longer steps. But moving your legs that quickly takes an enormous amount of effort. In fact, at 5 mph, it’s much more efficient to run — and cover more ground with each stride — than it is to walk. So you actually use more energy, and burn more calories walking a 12-minute mile than running a 12-minute mile.
- Speed Up Your Swing
The speed of your arms determines the speed of your legs. Let your arms swing freely, but with purpose. This will improve your balance, circulation, and burn more calories. Your arms move in opposition to your legs…The right leg and left arm always move together. Swing your arms forward, not across your body. Imagine your body on a clock face, with your head at 12 o’clock, your arms should swing from about 7 o’clock (just behind your hips) to 4 o’clock (about belly-button height).
- It’s Not Just Physical
To increase the benefits of your walk, it’s not just physical. As you remain consistent, you’ll begin to re-train your brain, and these techniques will become a part of your muscle memory. As you start walking, you’ll discover countless other reasons to remain consistent. As your lungs start to actively move oxygen into and out of your body, any tension you’ve been holding onto in your chest is exhaled away. You’ll start to concentrate on your walking posture, and you’ll finally manage to relax your shoulders and neck. As you focus on the techniques and sensations of speed walking, the things that were driving you crazier earlier in the day will slowly slip out of your mind. Soon, the rhythm of your steps takes on its own life. You’ll feel your muscles working, your heart pumping. And when you’re done, your legs will feel light, as though they’ve been pumped with helium. You’ll feel strong, flexible and centered.