Health

6 ways to increase your daily walking level


At 76, Judy Fog is one of the strongest people her daughter knows. For example, her VO2 max – a popular fitness metric that measures how much oxygen a person can absorb during exercise.

“She has a VO2 max that’s not too far off for a Nordic skier and they’re considered the top of the range,” says Robyn Fog-Wiltse, a physiologist and fitness trainer. Her mother’s secret? Daily walk.

Over the past few years, the world has dramatically changed its relationship with walking, with millions of people strolling their neighborhood sidewalks or local trails in hopes of boosting their physical, sense of community, and mental health. Studies have shown that that walking for at least 30 minutes a day is enough to reap significant physical and mental benefits.

But circling the same noisy sidewalk thousands of steps can quickly turn from an everyday snack to a repetitive chore. There are dozens of ways to change it up and get hot food back into your steamer, if you’re willing to think it through.

Originally developed in Finland as a way to train cross-country skiers in the off-season, Nordic hikers use specially designed stakes with rubber tips to grip the road surface and help engages the arms and core muscles, turning a simple walk into a full body. do exercise.

Hikers who may get bored walking the city on a stick will find, on average, a 22 percent increase in calorie consumption and will consume 23 percent more oxygen. The more oxygen your body consumes, the more efficiently it can generate energy during exercise.

Companies like Leki and Black Diamond sell a variety of expensive, high-tech poles to hikers, but the right technique is more important than the label. “Whether you use a pole with a handle and strap, or two sticks, the focus of ‘Nordic’ has to be really on the fact that you’re using whatever Kirk Shave, Nordic walker trainer at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa in British Columbia.

He says you should hold the pole with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle and your forearm parallel to the ground. Next, you should use your triceps to press the pole head into the back trail and push out, propelling your body forward.

“The number one issue for hikers, joggers, and walkers is knees and ankles,” explains Mr. Shave. Reducing stress on the lower body by walking on flat terrain and down hills can help avoid compression problems in these joints, he adds.

“Play is so important,” says Bill Burnett, executive director of the Life Design Lab at Stanford University and co-author of the book “Design Your Life.” From an early age, our brains learn and develop habits through play, he says. “When you were a kid, the way you learned to do things was you played with them,” he said.

After two years of walking around the same streets of San Francisco during the coronavirus pandemic, he became hungry for novelty, sometimes catching himself on scavenger hunts for secret stairs, orange flowers or birdsong. For Mr. Burnett, the way we frame modern exercise will burn people out after a while, because it’s so easy to get into the mind-numbing routine of counting steps on a smartwatch. Bringing a sense of curiosity while walking can be a powerful antidote to the mundane.

Alastair Humphreys, adventurer and author of “Microadventures: Local Discovery for Great Escapes,” says you can unleash your adventurous side in your own neighborhood. In 2020, he runs, walks or cycles on his own every street in his London suburbs and discovers places he never knew existed. “The challenge is trying to see things with new and open eyes, as if for the first time,” he says.

Climb tree, hiking on full moon day without a flashlight, drink your morning cup of coffee in a new place every day or look up your local disc golf course. Keep it silly, not serious.

Some walkers may have lofty long-term goals. Perhaps you want to go further or try a backpacking trip. The best way to prepare your muscles for more intense activities is to build resistance, perhaps by training with a weight pack of the day, says Ms. Fog-Wiltse.

She suggests starting with no more than 15 pounds in a backpack with a full hip belt that, when fitted snugly near your navel, transfers weight to your legs as you walk. This helps the practitioner avoid neck and back pain when bearing a large load on the spine.

Ms. Fog-Wiltse, who has coached clients to climb Mount Everest and compete in the American Ninja Warrior finals, adds that wearing an elastic exercise band Getting into your group and doing a series of sumo (or monster) moves while out can help strengthen important muscles like the glutes, which are important for dynamic stability.

In a semi-squat position, order the band right below your knees and then step to your right, keeping your knees parallel and hip distance apart. Next, step to the left, repeat for a few steps, keeping the weight at the heels by squatting deeply. Make sure your feet are parallel throughout and try to do two sets of 10 reps in each walk.

Ultimately, a good set of underwear will help prevent something called hyperplasia, says Dr. Michael Fredericson, a professor of orthopedics at Stanford University. Clutch is when the foot rolls inward, usually because the arch is not strong enough to support the body’s weight properly. People with flatter feet are more likely to experience this condition.

Products from brands like Superfeet and SOLE can combat the most common forms of vocalization by supporting the center of the arch of the foot, says Dr. Fredericson. But if you have a more complex problem, he adds, a custom orthotic may be needed.

Jennifer Pharr Davis, an author and owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company, says one of the hardest parts of implementing a daily walking routine is fitting it into an already tight schedule. However, she says, you can take extra steps in some surprising places. For example, when picking up your child from school, park your car six blocks away and walk the rest. Taking 10 or 15 minutes to relieve the pressure of walking to the car can also help kids relax and regain their energy, she says, adding that “it gives me time to focus with my kids.” .

Ms. Pharr Davis also likes to trade in her Zoom meetings to hold walk-in meetings whenever possible, especially with local colleagues. “When your body is in motion, your brain is stimulated in different ways and you are more creative,” she says, noting that these motion encounters often lead to better conversations between people. her colleague.

Listening to music while walking or an intense workout has been shown to reduce exertion and increase physical performance, according to one study. Recent meta-analysis. In other words, working out harder doesn’t feel as strenuous when we turn on our favorite playlist.

Ms Fog-Wiltse added that she has seen similar results when her clients engage in any form of “incentive listening” during workouts. “If music isn’t your thing, podcasts can do the same,” she says.

Swedish for “playing speed”, distance running exercises use a type of training time involves a series of intense bursts with periods of recovery between them. The beauty of farting is that, unlike in the traditional Intermittent high-intensity exercisePedestrians or runners don’t need to stick themselves to a watch or fitness tracker to get a boost muscular endurance. Simply elevate your gait for a light jog or short walk to get your heart rate up, slow down again until you feel recovered, and repeat.

If you prefer a more structured approach, “start with 10 minutes of warm-up walking, then do 6 to 10 intervals a minute, faster, then two minutes of easy walking, ” Matt Fitzgerald, author of “80/20 Running” and co-founded a training company called 80/20 Endurance. “And then cool down with a 5 to 10 minute walk.” Split your weekly workouts so that 80 percent of your time is spent low-intensity and 20 percent moderate-to-high intensity, like a competitive marathoner’s training regimen, she says. can help everyday athletes faster.


Emily Pennington is a freelance writer, photographer, and columnist for Outside Magazine, currently working on a book about visiting every national park in the United States.



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