Walking is the simplest form of exercise. It starts the moment we get up from bed and probably ends when we go to bed. It is currently felt that to reap the maximum benefits of walking it is best that we walk 10,000 steps a day. A doctor who does his usual ward rounds and meetings; it has been estimated that at the end of the day he would have walked on the average of 3,500 steps a day. The rest of the walking has to be done intentionally during his rest time, probably at a park to achieve the target of 10,000 steps a day.
Walking requires no equipment except for a good pair of supportive shoes and like all the other forms of exercises, the time to do it. However if one still does not find the time, he can improvise by walking part of the way to work, walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift, walking to the table of a subordinate instead of using the telephone and so on.
Walking is moving forward on foot; advancing by steps at a pace slower than a run, with one foot on the ground at any one time although not necessarily.
Techniques of Walking:
- Walking Posture
Posture is very important when walking. It makes you breathe easier and prevents backaches.
You can start with the following:
* Stand up straight. Do not arch your back
* Do not lean forward or backward as this puts a strain on the muscles
* Eyes look forward, chin parallel to the ground
* Relax and let your shoulders fall
* Suck in your stomach and tuck in your behind
* Rotate your hip forward
Figure 1: Shows correct walking postures
Swinging your arms give power and balance to your walk.
- Hands should be loose and in a partially closed curl but never clenched
- Clenching the hands can raise the blood pressure
- With each step the opposite arm comes straight forward
- As the foot goes back the opposite arms comes forward
- Hands should not cross each other
- Hands should be kept low but never swing higher than shoulder
- Taking the step
Walking is a rolling motion.
- The heel strikes the ground first
- Roll over the heel to toe, always touching the ground
- At first the shin muscles may tire but with time your muscles are strengthened
Striding should not be overdone.
- Take short strides which you are comfortable with, longer strides do not necessarily increase your speed but rather can cause harm
- Your stride could be longer behind you so that the toe is used to propel you forward thus gaining speed
- Warm Up
- Start out with a slow stroll for five minutes until your cold muscles are warmed up slightly
- Then stop to do some stretching exercises taking the muscles and joints through its range of motions
- You can start with the head, moving it slowly from side to side, repeating this motion 5-10 times
- Stretch out the arms and move it in circles forward and then backwards, repeating 10-15 times each
- Do a hip stretch, take a step back with right foot, bend your left knee forward shifting your weight to the right hip. Hold it for 15 seconds. Do this for the other hip as well
- Go on to stretch the legs and calf muscles by pushing against a wall or a tree, with one leg stepped backward and holding for 15 seconds. Repeat this for the other leg.
- You are now ready to take the walk
Warming Up Exercises
- Cool down
- With about 5 – 10 minutes before you end your walk, slow down your pace until you cool down
- Repeat the stretching exercises you did at the beginning
Distance and Timing
Walking 10,000 steps a day is equivalent to walking 6-8 kilo meters a day depending on the length of stride of a person. This distance takes about one and half hours to cover. However, we need not do the whole distance at one go; it can be broken up into several intervals during the whole day.
MET is the metabolic equivalent of task. One MET is equivalent to consumption of 3.5 ml of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute or in other words the burning expenditure of one kilocalorie per kilogram of body weight per hour. METS utilised during walking is as follows:
|1.7 Km per hour||2.3|
|4.0 Km per hour||2.9|
|4.8 Km per hour||3.3|
|5.5 Km per hour||3.6|
Table 1: Shows METs for walking at low and moderate intensity
The average amount of kilocalories burned during a 10,000 steps walk at moderate intensity is between 400-500 kilocalories. Besides maintaining an ideal body weight and achieving a certain level of fitness, walking 10,000 steps a day can help you lose weight.
Here is how……..
The Malaysian Dietary Guidelines 2010 states that the calorie requirements for adult sedentary male and female between the age of 18-59 are as follows:
- Male : 2000 kcal per day
- Female : 1500 kcal per day
Supposing an adult male or female sticks to the above calorie intake and is able to walk 10,000 steps a day, he or she is able to burn an average of 450 calories. Every nine calories burned is equivalent to about one g of fat. Therefore, the person is able to burn 50 g of fat per day. If 10,000 steps is done over 20 days in a month, the total weight loss would be 1000 g or 1 kg. This works out to losing 12 kg of body weight per year. Congratulations!
However, If you want to take it further, the maximum recommended weight loss is 2 kg per month.
The Benefits of Walking
- It reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- It improves your sex life
- It saves money on medications and buying equipment for exercise
- You become less tired and depressed
- It helps beat breast cancer
- It reduces the risk of stroke
- It lowers the risk of developing dementia
- It helps you to lose weight and maintain an ideal body weight
- Walking Techniques by Wendy Bumgardner
- Malaysian Dietary Guidelines 2010