About 3,000 steps a day keeps the doctor away, but how do you make each step count and get the most out of your daily walk?
1. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
It’s easy to forget, but it’s an important part of any exercise. It improves flexibility, blood flow, and can make your movement more comfortable. You should stretch for about five minutes before you start.
Here are a few good stretches to try before you start your walk. Use a chair or tree for balance if needed.
- March in place by standing in one place while keeping your back straight. Lift one leg, then the other while swinging your arms gently.
- Stretch your quads by grasping your left ankle or foot with your left hand and bring your heel toward your backside. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with your right leg.
- Stretch your hamstrings by putting your weight on your right leg and straighten your back, extend your left leg in front with the heel touching the ground and toes pointing straight up. Using a wall can help. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with your right leg.
- Stretch your hips and glutes by supporting yourself on a chair or tree and cross your right ankle over the front of your thigh (not your knee) and lean back until you feel it stretch in your right hip and glute. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with your left leg.
- Stretch your chest and shoulders by either interlocking your fingers or gripping your wrists (whichever is more comfortable) behind your back and roll your shoulders forward and back without leaning forward.
2. Add Inclines
Yes, we know hills are harder, but they are great for getting more from your walk. Walking up hills make your muscles work more, and not just the muscles in your legs but also your core.
3. Takes Faster Not Longer Steps
Faster steps burn more calories and they help you reach your step count! Also, when you take longer strides, you cover more distance than you do with your natural gait. Doing this means your foot is adjusting when it lands and it won’t land efficiently or properly.
4. Get Comfortable Shoes
Why settle for uncomfortable shoes when your sole mate is waiting to improve your daily walk? All puns aside, getting the right shoes is another often overlooked aspect of walking. Make sure your shoes are cushioned, breathable, and lightweight. Here is a quick guide of what to look for when picking your shoes:
- Stability: make sure your shoes feel balanced through a whole range of motion.
- Flexibility: make sure your shoes don’t resit your movements too much and bend in the toes.
- Comfort: make sure your shoes have enough padding and a snug fit around the sole of your foot with room in the toes.
It might also help to consult your podiatrist to rule out any over or under pronation which requires different types of support.
5. Swing Your Arms
Remember how we reminded you to stretch your chest and shoulders earlier to get the most out of your daily walk? This is because you should be swinging your arms as you move. It might not have been something you’ve paid attention to, but you naturally swing your arms when you walk. According to Mental Floss, by swinging our arms we walk more efficiently. Our arms work at a type of pendulum and help build momentum when we are moving.
6. Race Yourself
One way to keep yourself from getting complacent in your walking routine is to race yourself. Obviously, it helps if you’ve been tracking your progress. This can also help with weight loss, as walking faster burns more calories.
7. Track it
It’s hard to race yourself if you aren’t keeping track of your steps. Depending on your level of comfort with technology, there are a few different ways you can do this.
- Track your miles and divide by step.
- Get a simple pedometer.
- Get a Fitbit.
The aim is to try and keep yourself between 2,000 and 3,000 steps a day and work your way up to 5,000. The average once you work your way up will play out at an average of 2.5 miles throughout the day. Though, don’t sweat the small stuff (you’ll be doing plenty of sweating already). There is no magic number, just as long as you are staying reasonably active and working toward a goal.
Now that you have all the tips, get out there and get the most out of your daily walk!
Concord Reserve is a continuing care retirement community in Westlake, Ohio. We’re focused on supporting the vibrant and active lifestyles of our residents so they can age well. For more information, contact Concord Reserve online or at 440-871-0090. Concord Reserve is a continuing care retirement community in Cleveland, Ohio.