Walking is a truly popular type of workout and it’s understandable why. First of all, it can have a tremendous positive impact on both your physical and mental health. Second of all, it’s a free activity, accessible to anyone. Moreover, it’s quite easy to do, since it doesn’t require any special skills or training.
Walking is indeed perceived as a simple exercise and therefore many believe there’s no such thing as walking the correct or incorrect way. Wrong! Without realizing it, you could be making a series of mistakes while walking, mistakes that can reduce the benefits of this exercise, make it less appealing or even cause injuries.
Do you want to walk the right way and reap all the health benefits? Then take a look at this list of walking mistakes to avoid:
Wearing the Wrong Shoes
One of the most common mistakes you can make is to wear the wrong footwear. If you’re thinking that any pair of shoes is suitable except for high heels, than you’re wrong. In order to make the most of your walking you need to avoid shoes that are too heavy, too rigid or aren’t your exact size.
The optimal walking shoes should be comfortable, able to absorb shocks, provide the proper cushioning and fit you. Also, if your current shoes are beginning to show signs of wear, it’s advisable to change them as they won’t be able to ensure the same support.
Not Measuring your Progress
In order to maximize your walking workouts it’s essential to be able to measure your progress. Without having the possibility to keep track of your activity, you won’t know how much you’re actually walking each day and if you’re getting somewhere or not. Tracking your progress will help you see where you stand at the moment, allow you to adjust your fitness plan and provide the motivation to keep on going until you reach your goal.
In order to track your daily physical activity you don’t really need to purchase an additional fitness tracker or band. You can rely on your smartphone to do the work. All you need is an app like our own ActivityTracker and you’re good to go. A pedometer app will automatically record your walking throughout the day and show you a series of relevant fitness metrics, such as your step count, calorie burn, distance, active time or flights of stairs climbed. For extra-motivation you’ll be able to set your own goal and stay permanently updated with the progress made.
Lack of Arm Movement
You’ve probably noticed this yourself. There are people that do not move their arms while walking. Instead they just hold them down by their sides. This is the type of error that definitely needs to be fixed, because your arm movement is equally important as your feet movement. Just like your legs, your arms too play an important role in propelling your forwards and properly balancing your body.
In order to correct this issue, make sure to bend your arms at a 90 degree angle and simply start swinging them back and forth in a natural movement.
One of the common walking mistakes has to do with overstriding. This is something that affects both fitness walkers and runners and involves taking longer steps in order to increase your walking speed. Taking a longer step than normal isn’t actually helpful at all. In fact it’s more dangerous, since the movement may throw you off balance, and can lead to a serious injury like shin splints.
If your aim is to pick up the pace, don’t take bigger steps. Instead take shorter, quicker steps. Having a higher step cadence means you will not only be able to move faster, but you’ll also spend less time in the air and hence the impact with the ground on landing will be much softer.
Not Mixing it Up
Walking is a simple and, at the same time, rewarding workout. It can help you stay fit by burning calories and toning your muscles and improve your overall physical and mental health. But at a certain point the initial enthusiasm will fade away you’ll start feeling less and less motivated. This is because you’re doing the same old things. You can’t do the same walking workout everyday and expect to remain as excited as you were at first.
When you feel you’re stuck in a rut, it’s time to start mixing your workouts. If you want to stick to walking, try interval walking, power walking or incorporating hills and stairs into your routine. This will help you not only break the boredom cycle, but also burn more fat. At the same time you can pause walking for a given day and try a different exercise. This can be anything from riding your bike through the park to lifting weights and doing yoga.
Walking the Same Route
You can get stuck in a rut not only by doing the same exercise, but also by walking the same route every single day. At one point you’ll feel sick and tired of knowing exactly where you’re going, knowing there’s nothing new or exciting waiting for you. In order to prevent monotony from comfortably settling in, you need to add novelty to your walks. This will keep you on track.
If you want to improve your walking workout, try to periodically change your route. Use a map to get ideas. See new places, see new faces, discover changes in the urban landscape. When coming back home, take a detour if your schedule allows it. Take advantage of the weekend and take your family for a hike in the middle of nature instead of going for the same neighborhood walk. A change of scenery will benefit you both physically and mentally and provide the motivation you’re struggling to find.
You’ve probably seen it by now, people walking and texting, walking or playing games or simply walking with their head down, completely unaware of their surroundings. This is a serious problem that can result in serious injuries.
When walking, make sure you maintain a correct posture. This means standing straight, keeping your shoulders relaxed, your chin up and your eyes always looking forward, never down. This is the correct way to walk and the most effective way to stay safe. Keep your phone in your pocket and take it out only if it’s truly necessary.
Setting Unrealistic Goals
When we start walking for fitness it’s important to set clear and quantifiable goals. This will help us measure with precision how successful we’ve been in our quest to reach those targets. For instance, aim to drop a certain amount of pounds instead of vaguely defining your goal as “losing weight”. Aim to take a certain number of steps each day or to stay physically active for a specific time.
Equally important is to set a realistic goal. You know yourself, you know what you can and can’t do. Define a target that is achievable. Avoid setting a goal that is too easy to reach and doesn’t come with challenges. At the same time avoid setting a goal that is impossible to reach, because this can cause serious damage. Failure will make you doubt yourself, lose confidence in your abilities and turn walking into an unappealing exercise.
Walking at the Wrong Time
You’re probably wondering: is there such thing as walking at the wrong time? After all, walking is a beneficial exercise that can be done anywhere and anytime. Well, choosing the right timing can actually make a difference and help you create healthy habits that will last.
Depending on the type of person, the availability, the individual needs and preferences, walking in the morning or later in the evening can come with a series of advantages and downsides. For instance, an early riser can effectively work out in the morning, while a night owl will struggle and lose interest eventually. If your goal is to lose weight, walking early in the morning isn’t as effective. On the other hand, walking in the evening can be difficult to manage due to safety or fatigue factors.
You can check out this article for more information about the best time for walking.
Not Staying Hydrated
Dehydration while exercising can cause a series of issues, including fatigue, dry eyes, dry mouth or cramps. This can turn your fun walking session into a truly undesirable experience. If you’re going for a walk, particularly one longer than an hour, it’s important take a bottle of water with you and drink when you’re feeling thirsty. Also make sure you drink enough water before and after your workout.
Try to avoid milk-based energy drinks before or during your walk, since they’ll require more time to digest. Also stay away from soft drinks. They can cause dehydration, bloating and gas.