Michele Stanten wrote for Trinity Health’s Silver Sneakers that anytime you lace up for a walk, whether it’s for five minutes or one hour, you’re doing something good for your health. But what if you could make every single walking workout even more effective?
With just a few simple tweaks, you can. The secret: Mastering good form for a faster walk, which burns more calories. Whether you’re walking on a treadmill or outside, use these three tips for better technique and results.
Tip #1: Bend Your Arms for a Total-Body Workout
You don’t run with your arms down by your sides. For a faster walk, borrow the concept of bending your elbows at 90 degrees. Your arms and legs naturally want to be in sync—so when you move your arms, your legs will want to speed up too.
Perfect your form: Keep your elbows close to your body (not winging out to the side) as you move your arms forward and back (not across your body).
Tip #2: Take Shorter Steps for a Smoother Gait
You might assume that longer legs always mean bigger steps and faster speed. Not so! In fact, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 20K race walk was only 5′3″ but left her taller competitors in the dust. The trick is to land your front foot close to your body, which helps you have a smoother gait and faster speed.
Perfect your form: Before you start walking, stand on flat, solid ground. Lift one knee up so your thigh is parallel to the ground, and immediately lower your heel to the ground. That’s how close your front foot should be to your body when you walk.
Tip #3: Roll and Push for a Powerful Stride
You know how to land. Follow up with a strong push off the ground to propel your body forward and engage your calves. Here’s how: As you step each leg forward, keep it straight without locking your knee. Land on your heel, roll through the middle of your foot, and push off the ground with the ball and toes of your foot.
Perfect your form: As you walk, imagine you’re trying to show off the sole of your shoe to someone behind you.
Treadmill hint: Practice this motion before hopping on the treadmill, or decrease the speed if you want to get a feel for it during your workout. With a moving belt, you won’t get as much pushoff—but you’ll still master the mechanics and get a great workout.
Note: The exercises in this workout may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. Please consult your physician before beginning a physical activity program to make sure it’s safe for you.