Proper alignment is important to the health of your body. As we begin to move in repetitive patterns we can change our posture over time. This may create places where the body experiences pain and soreness, muscle imbalance, or other problems because it is not meant to stand, move, or stay in the altered stance. When you walk – do you alter your posture?
First, Stand tall with your knees over your ankles, hips over your knees, shoulders over your hips, and ears centered over your shoulders. In this position it should feel comfortable to pull in on the abdominals and the lower back should feel supported with the pelvis in a neutral position. I know it sounds like a lot – your homework for the next couple of days is to practice this each time you look in the mirror. My yoga participants will attest to the progress regular practice makes on good posture. Begin to walk forward noticing how the body feels and responds to new alignment. Does this feel better?
Begin your regular stride with good posture and then add big arms. With the arms extended swing them forward and back in rhythm with your steps. As the right foot comes forward swing the left arm forward, and as the left foot moves so does the right hand. See what happens. How does your heart respond? Can you move faster when the arms and legs are both involved with purpose?
Practice walking with good posture and notice if it changes your energy level, the amount of work you have to do, and any other changes. It may be uncomfortable to stand up straight. Know this is normal – you’ve been asking your body to hold or move in another pattern so the muscles are strong in that pattern. Notice when you have automatically switched back to your old movement pattern and readjust attempting to stay with neutral posture as long as possible. Remember, it took time to get to this point – it’ll take time to get back. Happy Walking! Next time – a workout to try during your walk.
Today lets talk about walking. In my opinion it is the best time of the year, spring, renewals, rebirth, growth, what a great time to recommit to your health. An added bonus: being outside. This week lets talk about walking, but lets mix it up.
Today we will just get a feel for your stride and how your movement effects your intensity levels. Then we’ll look at alignment and a walking workout in the next two posts. As always, don’t forget to talk with your health care person before you begin a exercise program. Most of us know the basics, put one foot in front of the other and move. Once you have the feet down you can add arms, and we’ve all seen the arm pumpers, man can they move. There is logic behind their wildly swinging arms. The additional movement gets the whole body involved, and what happens when more of your body moves? You heart rate climbs and the workout becomes more difficult.
Many of us walk everyday, but we don’t give it much thought. Today try something different. Begin with your regular stride. Notice how your body moves. How far apart are your feet with each stride? What do your arms do? Are they swinging? Are they moving opposite your legs? Are they bent? Are they extended? How does your back feel? What is your breathing like? Have you opened your chest or collapsed it? Where are your shoulders in relation to your hips, and where do your ears line up over your shoulders? As you answer these questions notice if this feels good or not.Today and tomorrow notice how you walk and how changing your stride, speed, arms, etc all effect your body. Next time, we’ll talk about alignment and working with posture while you walk.
Many people are strapped for time. Adding a workout in may be more stressful on the short term so what is the health conscious person to do when they want to workout but circumstances are preventing it?
It’s not often I let the words “circumstances are preventing” but lets face it – life happens. We all have situations that pop up unexpectedly and throw off our best laid plans. One way to deal with life is to have a plan to deal with unexpected situations. Think through your goals, your routines, and possible obstacles. Think about how you will work around those twists in your fitness routines. If after the best planning you are still thrown for a loop try using METS.
METS stands for metabolic equivalents. These are units of energy used to measure how much “work” our body is doing. Work can be anything from vacuuming to sleeping to running a 5k. Each activity is assigned a MET. This MET value lets you know approximently how hard you are working. By tracking your METS you may find you are able to add cardiovascular work into your daily life activities without adding more time to your day.
Here’s a link to a MET activity chart and explanation of how a MET is calculated.
*NOTE: METS are based on a VO2MAX value for most people. Because it is a value for most people it is an estimate of work for you. Also, if you have specific goals in mind METS may not be the right way to accomplish them. See a personal trainer or your health care person for more information on what is right for you.
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Try tracking your movement and exercise to make sure you are on track to meet your goals.