Your walk journal has gained momentum over the two years, emerging as the championed form of exercise. Now with the group treks on weekends, family and friend trots in the evening, and the rush through the crowded markets, there is a recalibrated focus on the joy of making good use of your tootsies. From playlists and podcasts for making the walkathon an interesting affair, to tracker apps for clocking your steps, walking has been elevated to another calorie-chomping level altogether, revelling in its inclusivity as it draws in beginners, enthusiasts, amateurs…to celebrate the stride. Cue into your complete decoder.
Says fitness and nutrition coach Prateek Kumar, founder, FitCru, “Walking is a great way to spike your metabolic rate. This slow state of burning calories works very well in improving the rate at which our cells transfer energy. Walk in a way that is natural to you, while maintaining a correct posture. Try to distribute your body weight on the three points of your feet (heel, the ball under your small toe and the ball under your big toe).
Keep your pelvis tilted inwards by keeping your core and glutes engaged. Roll back your shoulders, furthest away from your ears. This is the best way to maintain a good posture while you walk and safeguard your knees, ankles, neck, or lower back.” Prateek walks daily on an incline for 20 minutes, walks his dogs, and walks to work and back home. “These rules have really helped me burn an extra 2,000 calories in a week, which is actually more appealing to me than a delicious pizza,” he grins.
Walking barefoot on the dew-tipped grass in the morning has always been championed, for fobbing off stiffness and swelling in legs, bettering body posture and strengthening our immune system. The natural moistness brings in a treasured nerve nourishment and improved foot function, in keeping with the theory that all life forms are subjected to the healing electromagnetic forces exerted by the earth. This is called ‘grounding’ and works towards reducing free radicals, stress and tension in the body. With the surface of the earth and our bodies—both being electrically conductive, we build up and develop positive charge throughout the day.
When we walk barefoot, our body comes into direct physical contact with the earth. The flow of negatively charged electrons from the ground into our body takes place, neutralising the excess positive charge within us to establish a balance in our body’s electrical environment. While this is a beneficial aspect, the damaging aspect is the inclusion of high-heeled footwear in our shoe closet, which disturbs the favoured ergonomics.
“Essentially, the concept of wearing high heels is very damaging to the human anatomy,” explains Mritunjay Rathore, Assistant Professor of Anatomy at AIIMS, Raipur, and a certified yoga expert. “This often leads to the painful development of plantar fascia. When we walk (without artificial heels) on the ground, the weight of our body is uniformly distributed across the metatarsals, the ball of the heel, the big and small toes. This establishes strength along the arches of our feet for better balance,” he explains.
“Many nutritionists term walking as NEPA (Non Exercise Physical Activity),” says celebrity fitness trainer Bhavna M Harchandrai, of Fitness Fundas Studio, Mumbai. “But if you primarily lead a sedentary lifestyle, walking serves as a good substitute for cardio, or aerobic training.” She elucidates ways of bringing in diverse complexions to the trot. “Walk uphill, or in chest deep water in a swimming pool, or bring in step climbs intermittently.
On a tracker, a target of 10,000 steps a day ensures you are leading an active lifestyle. Depending on your weight and pace you can burn between 250 and 600 calories. Keep in mind that you can walk seven days a week but must include weight training twice to thrice a week to strengthen muscles, bones and joints.
Else excessive walking will add load on the joints, especially the knees.” If you are wondering how to engage your arms, Bhavna tells you about the 90 degree swing. “Make sure your arms do not cross the midline of your body while swinging. Keep chin parallel to the floor, spine erect, buttocks and abdomen held in, knees soft. Clenching fists too hard spikes your blood pressure,” she cautions. Bhavna advises building up the intensity of your walk, graduating across weeks.
Then there are ways of maximising on the calorific burn too. Some experts recommend intake of black coffee, or green tea within 20 minutes of concluding your walk. Explains Prateek, “Caffeine is a great way to increase thermogenesis which is one of the ways your body burns fat. You can also do a strength-based activity, like squats or push-ups, before you start your walk.
This uses the glycogen stored in the muscles for performing the exercises and then the stored fat is used as fuel for performing the walks. But this will only work if your body is in a calorie deficit.” And before you get carried away with aggressive walkathons, he sounds a word of caution: “Remember to take it easy; you have only two knees and two hips. While walking is great, it takes time to strengthen the muscles too. Remember to hydrate well and eat a balanced diet. While you are at it, invest in a good deodorant too,” he says with a smile.
Confused over what shoes to wear while walking?
✥ Buy shoes in the evenings as standing and walking through the day swells
our feet a little.
✥ Walk around the room or store after trying on the pair.
✥ The sole must support your medial arch. If your arch is collapsed, choose shoes with adequate room to add an external sole for support.
✥ The width of the shoe must make your toes feel comfortable. You must be able to wiggle your toes, when shoes are on your feet.
✥ Wear soft, shock-absorbing soles instead of hard soles while lifting weights.
✥ Walks outdoors, especially in mornings, to pack inVitamin D.
✥ Walk three mins before and after every meal as this improves digestion.
✥ Longer the strides, the more the distance covered.
✥ Carry grocery bags of approximately equal weight in each hand back home from the market. Skip the car.
✥ Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
✥ Enjoy a walk with your pets.
✥ Always park your car further away from where you intend to go to walk a bit.