Getting More Out Of Walking And Running

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What is a more fundamental movement then walking? Simple to perform, it requires only a comfortable pair of shoes and a nice place to do it. Walking is relatively easy on the joints and the spine. Walking provides a good amount of exercise, depending on how fast you go. Walking at a brisk pace provides even more conditioning for your body. Regular walking is a good buildup to more strenuous activities. Try to walk on soft ground whenever possible. This cushions the force going into your body. Being outside has advantages of its own; fresh air, being in nature, contact with people and the world around you. This becomes increasingly important as we spend more time indoors.

Walking has one great drawback: The movement itself is repetitive. The key to walking, as with any activity, is to take out the repetition and replace it with non-habitual, incremental, type of movements. Try taking smaller strides for a short distance and then longer ones. Then turn your toes inward as if pigeon toed and walk a little bit like that. Then try walking with your feet pointed out. Walk sideways or even backwards. Try raising your knees up higher in the air as if you are marching. Would you consider skipping? Variations alter habitual patterns of movement. That is what your body is craving. Try it and you will feel the difference immediately.

Variation means you use more muscles, use them differently, stimulate both range of motion and balance and coordination, while facilitating a greater connection between mind and body. To walk with good posture, imagine balloons attached to your shoulders and the top of your head, lifting you up towards the sky. Keep your head up and look ahead instead of it being forward and down. Walking on hilly or uneven ground challenges your feet, ankles, balance and coordination, and increases the conditioning of your heart and lungs. You do have to pay more attention both to your surroundings and what you are doing with your body. If you hold weights in your hands and swing them about, more points for more effort. Stay away from ankle weights. They make your posture worse, especially as you tire and become inclined to drag your legs.

Jogging is running at a slow, leisurely, continuous pace. Many people enjoy the excellent cardiovascular conditioning, particularly when done over longer distances. There is also good muscle development of the lower extremities.

Furthermore, people enjoy what is commonly referred to as the runners high, a euphoric feeling that comes with pushing the body, within reason, over a period of time. The main disadvantage of jogging is that when you have bad posture, jogging is very hard on your body. This is the problem when engaging in any physical activity. When you have bad posture, you are compromising the mechanics of your joints and your body. The bottom line is that your body wears out faster. Jogging is also unnatural from the standpoint that most people lose their form and posture if they don't keep up a certain speed, typically half to three-quarters of a sprint which is quite fast and hard to maintain very long unless you're in great shape.

So when people ask if jogging or running is good for you, my response is that it is if you have good posture. If not, it's the kiss of death. You're an accident waiting to happen. The doctors are lined up on both sides of the street ready to treat you once your body inevitably breaks down. Also, as we fatigue our posture gets worse. It's why people look so haggard crossing the finish line at the end of races.

Ever notice how few people run for years and years without their knees, hips, and various lower extremities breaking down? Posture, posture, posture! Also, you have to switch it up. The practice I have followed over the last 30 years and highly recommend to clients is to break up and vary the types of activity. My activity as far as cardiovascular is concerned is in three areas: Running, swimming, and bicycling. What I do is run for a couple of years, swim a couple of years, then ride a bicycle a couple of years. That way, I maintain good cardiovascular conditioning, but I don't put all the miles on my legs that runners do by exclusively running year after year. I also fervently believe in running backwards, sideways, any way other than solely straight ahead. And I run on grass or soft surfaces whenever I can.

 

Will Nelson is an author, public speaker, personal trainer, massage therapist, and life coach. As a Life Performance Specialist, he has created an on-line 7-day and membership program see it at http://www.VitalogyLiving.com and developed three courses, the VitalBody, VitalFood and the VitalMind. His company teaches personal empowerment through lifestyle management. For more information go to http://www.enjoyabetterworld.com.

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