Get More Out of Your Walk

Get more out of your Walk

 Walking, seems like a no brainer right? We don’t really think about it we just do it as it is natural. There are things you can do  to get improve benefits of walking. By focusing on style and posture you can improve muscle strength and tone, improve balance, correct postural issues and burn more calories.

Engage your arms!
Make a loose fist, consciously swing your arms, bringing your fist up to the approximate level of your breast bone, and then back to the outside of the hip. Pretend you are trying to move your arms against a force to engage the muscles even more when you walk.
Notice the posture of President Bush  – Shoulders back, arms active, stomach in,  head forward. Now compare to the gentleman next to him. Who do you think is getting more from their walk?
 Forward head, not engaging arms or stomach, rounded shoulders.
I show this to make you think about your posture while on a treadmill. Fast walkers on a treadmill who hang on to the bar often have a sway back posture. Slow walkers often lean way forward – I call it the pushing the lawnmower posture. While on the treadmill, try to either not hold on and swing your arms, or hold on with only one arm.  This will help you to have a better posture. When you hold on to the rails the entire time, your upper body is stiff and doesn’t move naturally as it does with your regular walking.
Also don’t look down the whole time this leads to forward head or thoracic kyphosis postures. Try to look 15-20 feet ahead of you. Hold your head high. Try to keep your chin parallel to the floor.  Squeeze those shoulder blades together and down…this is the military posture or the busty look, tall and proud.
Some people are so stiff with walking, add a little wiggle to your walk allow your shoulders and hips to move naturally, this is very good for your spine. Being stiff and rigid isn’t helpful. Often after open heart surgery people are very stiff in the shoulders and neck. Again swinging the arms helps this.
Tighten your stomach muscles. These support your back, they provide you with core strength. If the belly sags forward it places more stress on your lumbar spine. Tuck your pelvis under your torso.
If your have back issues or balance issues I recommend walking with ski poles. They help you to stand taller, force you to engage your arms with the walk, and you burn more calories on your walk.
Compared to regular walking, ski walking  involves applying force to the poles with each stride. Walking with ski poles uses more of their entire body (with greater intensity) and receive fitness building stimulation not present in normal walking for the chest, lats, triceps, biceps, shoulder, abdominals, spinal and other core muscles. This can produce up to a 46% increase in energy consumption compared to walking without poles. It also has been demonstrated to increase upper body muscle endurance by 38% in just twelve weeks.
This extra muscle involvement may lead to enhancements over ordinary walking at equal paces such as:
  • increased overall strength and endurance in the core muscles and the entire upper body
  • significant increases in heart rate at a given pace
  • increasing vascular pathways and oxygen delivery efficiency
  • greater ease in climbing hills
  • burning more calories than in plain walking
  • improved balance and stability with use of the poles
  • significant un-weighting of hip, knee and ankle joints
  • provides density preserving stress to bones
What about walking with weights? 
If you want to walk with weights don’t use more than 1-2 lbs in your hands. Heavier weights tend to stress the neck and spine and are not recommended. Again don’t just hold the weights pump those arms, swing up to breast bone and back to hip. You engage the arms, you burn more calories.

Sedentary life causes weight gain: How to avoid it in your family

We can all work to limit the screen habits, not just TV but video games, Ipods, computers. It is hard as our children are growing up in a world we cannot fully understand where everything is linked to a screen. Some of it is great, but it is making us sedentary which then contributes to weight issues and chronic diseases. We must be creative to get families active. One way my family stays active is we challenge ourselves to do a certain number of hike, cross country ski, swims, kayaks per year. The goal may be ten of each. One year we made a goal of walking every trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. This was 33 hikes, and it took us a year to accomplish this feat. But what memories!

Reblogged from BBC News 

TV habits ‘can predict kids’ waist size and fitness’

Children watching televisionExperts say children should not watch more than two hours of TV a day

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Children who increase the number of hours of weekly television they watch between the ages of two and four years old risk larger waistlines by age 10.
A Canadian study found that every extra weekly hour watched could add half a millimetre to their waist circumference and reduce muscle fitness.
The study, in a BioMed Central journal, tracked the TV habits of 1,314 children.
Experts say children should not watch more than two hours of TV a day.
Researchers found that the average amount of television watched by the children at the start of the study was 8.8 hours a week.
This increased on average by six hours over the next two years to reach 14.8 hours a week by the age of four-and-a-half.
Fifteen per cent of the children in the study were watching more than 18 hours per week by that age, according to their parents.
The study said the effect of 18 hours of television at 4.5 years of age would by the age of 10 result in an extra 7.6mm of waist because of the child’s TV habit.

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Watching more television displaces other forms of educational and active leisurely pursuits”

Dr Linda PaganiUniversity of Montreal

‘Bottom line’

As well as measuring waist circumference, the researchers also carried out a standing long jump test to measure each child’s muscular fitness and athletic ability.
An extra weekly hour of TV can decrease the distance a child is able to jump from standing by 0.36cm, the study said.
The researchers said that further research was needed to work out whether television watching is directly responsible for the health issues they observed.
Dr Linda Pagani, study co-author from the University of Montreal, said it was a warning about the factors which could lead to childhood obesity.
“The bottom line is that watching too much television – beyond the recommended amounts – is not good,” Dr Pagani said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children aged over two should not watch more than two hours of television per day.
Dr Pagani added: “Across the occidental world, there have been dramatic increases in unhealthy weight for both children and adults in recent decades.
“Our standard of living has also changed in favour of more easily prepared, calorie-dense foods and sedentary practices.
“Watching more television not only displaces other forms of educational and active leisurely pursuits but also places them at risk of learning inaccurate information about proper eating.”
The study said that habits and behaviours became entrenched during childhood and these habits might affect attitudes to sporting activities in adulthood.