With the New Year, many resolutions will be made to drop a few pounds and get into better shape. One great way to start seeing major improvements to your health is by increasing the number of steps you take in a day. The American Heart Association recommends taking 10,000 steps per day to satisfy the Surgeon General’s goal of being active for approximately 30 minutes per day for at least five days each week.
Walking 10,000 steps per day is associated with many health benefits including:
- reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke
- reducing your risk for Type II diabetes
- reducing your risk for dementia
- lowering your BMI and your weight
- lowering your blood pressure
- increasing your energy level
- improving your mood
- improving your sleep
For those trying to step towards better health and fitness, here are five tips for how to maximize your walking.
Tip 1: Maintain good posture
Walk tall as if your head is being pulled up towards the sky. Maintain this upright position without leaning forward. Keep your head level, your chin tucked-back, your chest high, and your shoulders pulled back slightly. Focus your gaze approximately 20 feet ahead of you.
Tip 2: Engage your core
While you are walking, gently pull-in your belly and tuck-in your bottom. A helpful phrase for remembering this principle is “suck-in your gut; tuck-in your butt.”
Tip 3: Swing those arms freely
Throughout your walk, keep your shoulders and hands relaxed and your elbows bent close to 90 degrees. Move one arm forward with every step of the opposite leg, without lifting your hands higher than your chest nor moving them across the midline of your body.
Tip 4: Push off with your back leg
Engage your powerful walking muscles by pushing forward off the toes of your back leg versus pulling forward with your front leg. Take smooth steps, rolling over your foot from heel to toe. Don’t over-stride; take smaller steps and keep your knees relaxed.
Tip 5: Wear a shoe with a flexible soleAvoid walking in shoes with soles that do not flex with your foot. Also, try to walk in shoes which are a little roomier to accommodate the mild foot swelling that can naturally occur with prolonged walking.
Each time you go for a walk, work on one of the above points. In just a short while they will become a natural part of your walking routine. These five little tips can make a big difference so that every step you take is a good one!