Are You Walking Correctly?
There’s no doubt we’ve been a bit cooped up in recent times. While it can be hard to motivate yourself to step outside in the winter, regular walks can help you stay energized and on track to a healthier life.
There are so many benefits to walking as a form of exercise that it’s worth lacing up your sneakers and heading outside for a few minutes every day. Plus, with more than 114 miles of pathways and sidewalks, there’s no shortage of scenic trails in Columbia (Here’s a roundup of our favorite family-friendly hikes ).
Ready to make regular walks part of your routine? We’ve got some great tips to keep in mind!
Tips to help you walk correctly
Did you know there’s a wrong way to walk? It sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Walking correctly prevents you from injuring your body and keeps your posture aligned. Plus, if it becomes a daily habit, it ensures you’re not putting unnecessary wear and tear on your joints and muscles.
So, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re walking.
- Keep your head up and your gaze 10 to 20 feet ahead of you.
- Wear appropriate shoes for the weather.
- Stand up straight with your shoulders down and back.
- Pull your belly button back towards your spine to engage your core muscles.
- Loosen your body by swinging your arms.
- Step heel-to-toe instead of hitting the pavement with your heel first.
Being aware of your form and posture when you walk will not only help you grow stronger in your core, but it can do wonders for your day-to-day posture. As you’re walking, pay attention to what your body is doing and adjust where needed.
Tips for walking in the winter
Between ice and snow, the elements can make things a little hazardous. However, there are simple things you can do to be safe as you head out in cold weather.
- Before you head outside, warm up your body with jumping jacks, high knees, or jogging in place.
- Layers are key. First layers need to be synthetic fabrics to help absorb the sweat away from skin. The next layer should be wool or fleece to hold that extra warmth in. Then, you need a waterproof outer layer to protect you from the elements. The shell layer can be a lightweight windbreaker or vest, or a heavier jacket.
- Cover your vulnerable areas such as hands, toes, face, and head. And while you might be tempted to double up on the socks, this actually constricts blood flow in your feet. Most shoes are designed for one pair of socks, so the additional pressure of another isn’t ideal. It’s much better to instead choose one quality pair of long thermal or wool socks than to squeeze into two.
- Check the tread on your shoes and use footwear made for winter walks.
- Make sure you are seen. If it’s getting dark, wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight. Stay on the sidewalk or
path and stay alert.
- Have a plan for slipping and falling — bring your phone with you or stay close to home.
Lastly, don’t go outside if the weather is truly terrible. Walking on ice or in a blizzard is never safe. And if it’s so cold out that you’re freezing even under your layers, that’s probably too cold.
The benefits of daily walks
If you haven’t had a great gym routine during the pandemic, walking is the perfect way to ease back into working out. It’s an active recovery that helps to build your stamina the more that you do it.
But that’s not all! Walking has so many more benefits…
- Since it’s an active recovery tool, it can help ease aching muscles and back pain.
- From cancer to chronic conditions and diabetes, just 20 minutes a day can lower your risk of disease.
- Prevent high blood pressure, cholesterol, and other heart issues with your daily walk.
- Keep six feet apart and visit with friends with this safe outdoor activity.
- Boost your endorphins and feel better mentally in just 10 minutes.
- Breathing fresh air and getting a dose of vitamin D can boost your mood.
- Connect with your community by taking a trip around to say hello and see what’s going on.
Soak up Columbia’s natural beauty
Did you know that CA maintains more than 95 miles of pathways and sidewalks for walking, biking and jogging? Click here for a pathways map.
For inspiration on family-friendly hikes and trails, check out our blog post.