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Walk this way! How to optimise your stride to get the most from your daily stroll

The pleasure of walking

The pleasure of walking

It was easy to dismiss walking as a form of physical activity until recently. But lockdown has reminded us of the pleasures of walking. Both its physical and mental benefits are being appreciated once again.

To walk to the best of our abilities, we need to walk the way our bodies were designed to - which no longer comes naturally in this sedentary, screen-based era.

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Walk this way! How to optimise your stride to get the most from your daily stroll

Walk this way! How to optimise your stride to get the most from your daily stroll

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/may/28/walk-this-way-how-to-optimise-your-stride-and-focus-your-mind-to-get-the-most-from-your-daily-stroll

theguardian.com

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Key Ideas

The pleasure of walking

It was easy to dismiss walking as a form of physical activity until recently. But lockdown has reminded us of the pleasures of walking. Both its physical and mental benefits are being appreciated once again.

To walk to the best of our abilities, we need to walk the way our bodies were designed to - which no longer comes naturally in this sedentary, screen-based era.

Aspects we get wrong about walking

  1. Instead of propelling ourselves forward by pushing off with the back foot, we attempt to use our stepping foot to get us going. Sitting down too much shortens and tightens the hip flexor muscles, causing us to take the wrong step.
  2. The passive foot strike. The movement provided by the joints in our feet offers suspension and balance. Plodding along flatly causes knee discomfort. It can create a slight misalignment of the back, and stiffness of the shoulders.
  3. Letting your head hang forwards. Screens, reading, and desk work have made this the default position. With the head slightly forward, the muscles in the upper back and shoulders have to contract to hold it there. Back mobility becomes restricted, and you will be unable to rotate your spine from the hips.
  4. Arms hanging awkwardly or forced into a tense power-walk movement. If you get steps one to three right, the arms will naturally dangle freely.

Walking benefits

  • When people walk together, they unconsciously fall into step. Their neural activity synchronizes too. The more in sync we are, the deeper our social connection.
  • Walking aids creativity. A study revealed that when participants who brainstormed while walking, thought of more valid ideas than those who tried the same while sitting.
  • Half an hour of walking per day helps treat depression.
  • To reinforce the positive effects, notice how you're feeling. Notice what you are seeing, smelling, and tasting.
  • Be aware of rumination if you're struggling with something such as grief, a job loss, or uncertainty. Avoid unhelpful responses such as "why me?" or "why this?" Instead, ask, "what now?" to help you find a way forward.

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