Staying healthy

Get More Out of Walking

Making these simple changes to how you walk can help boost your health benefits.
November 29, 2023   |   2 minute read
Father and kid on a forest walk, holding hands and laughing.

Every day gives us chances to walk, whether we’re running errands or hiking. And it’s common knowledge that walking can help you feel healthy and happy. The National Library of Medicine has a long list of benefits, including heart health and lower risk of cancer. Walking can even boost your mood and help you quit smoking. But are you getting the most out of your walks? Being deliberate about how you walk can supercharge your health benefits. Try these tips to take your walk to the next level.

Practice Good Posture

When you walk, do your best to stand upright with your shoulders back and your gaze in the middle distance. Relax your neck and shoulders, bend your arms slightly, and swing them at your sides. Be careful not to swing your arms diagonally, since that can throw off your balance and sap your energy.

Good posture will engage your core and reduce stress on your back. It can also give your eyes the chance to shift focus if you find yourself spending a lot of time in front of screens.

Pick Up Your Pace

Walking faster can immediately make your walk higher-impact. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that a brisker pace is tied to lower mortality. If you’re not usually speedy, you inch up your pace slowly. Time yourself, walk with a pace-setting buddy, or practice short bursts of speedwalking.

Lengthen Your Stride

Your stride length is the distance your foot covers between steps. The Journal of Clinical Medicine found that a longer stride is tied to lower death rate and fewer falls, especially in older adults. Trying to extend your stride length can help you stretch and engage your muscles. Plus, noticing limits to your stride can help you spot health problems before they become serious. Talk to your doctor if you find that it’s difficult or painful to take big steps.

Walk Outdoors

Walking can be a wonderful low-impact chance to explore the world around you. The American Psychological Society found that getting outdoors can help improve mental power and mood. Even just a minute of looking at greenery can help calm and focus your mind. So before you lace up, look up local trails and parks.

Get Social

Invite others out for a walk. Walking with others can help you keep a consistent pace and make a long walk pass quickly. The time you spend walking is also time you can spend strengthening bonds with the people you care about. Or you may want to join a walking or hiking club to meet new people. Having a strong social network is key for your mental and physical health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a handy guide on the importance of social health.

Make a Routine

The biggest thing you can do to make your walks work is to keep at it! Every day and every bit of movement counts. Find a time that works for you on a regular basis so it’s a natural part of your rhythm. Enlist a walking buddy (maybe even a furry one), and you get instant accountability. Be prepared for nasty weather by finding alternative routes and warm clothes.

Your health is affected by the choices you make every day. LifeWise is here to help support you in making the ones that are right for you.

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