Home Lifestyle Tie those laces and walkout to a better you

Tie those laces and walkout to a better you

by Luqmaan Rawat

Adults spend approximately 6.5 of their day sitting. Incorporating movement in our daily routine is beneficial Photo  Medicinenet

Johannesburg – Humans are always looking for new ways to improve their fitness and lose those love handles and muffin tops. It is one of the reasons we opt to go to a gym. But there exists a cost free, good for the earth and yourself, method of movement – walking. 

Now, you might be skeptical about it at first, but walking genuinely is an effective way to get fit, as well as build your muscles and bones. According to Iftikaar Jooma, physiotherapist, walking “engages muscles throughout the body.”

“Walking is a simple but highly effective form of exercise. Walking works, not only your legs, but also engages muscles throughout your body. Your upper body, although not targeted directly, is being used to support your core, stabilise your pelvis, and maintain an upright position. Your abs (rectus abdominis), back (erector spinae) and hip flexors are engaged to propel you forward.”

The leg muscles used during walking are the “hamstrings, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, tibialis, anterior, gluteus, ankle and foot muscles,” said Jooma. While that is a mouthful, it’s interesting to note how many muscles are involved in the everyday process. 

Taking up walking has its benefits. Arpan Da’bechuran, a local model, began walking to build his fitness levels. In time, it became a means of controlling his anxiety and a way to ground himself.

“I started walking to build up my fitness. At first, I wasn’t so sure about it so I didn’t invest much in it but in time I began to love walking and so I invested in a good pair of shoes. That is important as well because a good pair of shoes helps to provide comfort to your feet.”

Da’bechuran noticed positive changes in his stamina and his fitness levels. He lost weight and developed his leg muscles.

“Over the course of my walks I started to be able to walk for longer at faster speeds and I was shocked at how toned and strong my leg muscles became. I started to enjoy nature as well and what was supposed to be a short walk turned into me walking for 45 minutes to an hour.”

The Umhlanga promenade is his go to place as it provides an ocean view and being surrounded by nature is a plus. He walks about four to five times a week and in just a few months he has seen “an amazing” improvement in his body.

Although walking can help with lower back pains there have been reports that it can aggravate it. This comes down to what type of back problem you have said Jooma.

“It’s difficult to classify which injuries will benefit from walking opposed to which won’t. Various stages of injuries and recovery require exercise versus rest… It’s also difficult to say walking makes back pain worse because immobility on the other hand could cause issues to the whole body and not just the back. Moderation is the key because excessive walking or rest will worsen the body.”

There are several types of surfaces one can walk on. The best surface is something that is soft, explains Jooma.

“The type of surface that’s good is something soft like a grassy surface. The worst surface, I would say, is walking on a treadmill due to its uniform belt and pressure it puts on one part of a joint which leads to wear and tear.”

We live highly active lives, but walking is a task that anyone can do at any time and in fact it is better to walk in short bursts a day rather than 10 000 steps a day. Research shows that it is more effective to walk for 10 to 15 minutes at a brisk pace that gets your heart pumping. It isn’t about how much you walk but how fast you get that blood pumping throughout your body.

Walking helps in many ways, and it doesn’t cost a lot. There are ways too of making your “walkout” much better, by using hand and leg weights, making it part of a strength training circuit or alternating between periods of increased or decreased speed. As a form of exercise, walking aids in weight loss, improves cognitive function, and reduces the risk of depression, including the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.

Not much is required except the correct tips and techniques and the will to get out there and walk. Just put your shoes on and gear up to walk to a fitter you.

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