Every journey begins with a first step, walking is a healthy first step toward your fitness goals.
Walking is probably the best and most overlooked fitness movement we can do for ourselves.In modern society walking has become a “last resort” as a mode of transportation. We drive, cab it, take the bus, and ride a bike all in hopes of storing up those elusive minutes of free time, so walking has lost its top of mind status in our high tech way of life. Walking is “free” so it’s difficult for companys and MLM’s to market and make money from it, so walking and its benefits get little high level exposure. The truth of the matter is we need to slow down and take ownership of our health and wellness needs and walking is a great foundation.
Have you ever heard the phrase move it or lose it? All it takes to get started is 30 minutes in oxygen each day. When walking focus on breath, core integration and glute engagement. If you are unsure if your glutes are engaging simply reach back and grab them, you should feel them engage and release through each step. Walk at a pace that will get your heart rate into a range that is 55-75% of your aerobic capacity. If you can walk and carry a conversation but feel like you are slightly outside your comfort zone then you are there. Even a leisurely stroll will begin to build a healthy sustainable mindset. Walking is a great form of stress relief, amazing for joint mobility, and great for fat loss when combined with healthy food choices.
Walking is an extremely progressive form of movement. As your fitness increases it is easy to add challenges like the ones in our Primal Walking Program inspired by Mark Sisson. Progress from flat surfaces to hills, then to trails, change the tempo; even add bodyweight movements such as lunges, push-ups or side planks. Do a series of farmers walks, carry a knapsack or use a weighted vest, even take portable fitness equipment like a TRX and turn your walk into a full on training session. You can add performance breathing techniques designed to sharpen your focus and deepen your concentration, all great progressions to enhance your life and longevity all thanks to taking a step.
We have lost or forgotten some of our walking skills in modern times. Due to the use of bulky athletic shoes designed for heel contact we have lost our natural gait, in the process we suffer increased joint and foot pain. I became a big fan of barefoot walking after a bout of Plantar Fasciitis. At first I went through the normal channels, the doctor, the specialist, sports therapist, and orthotics all with no relief. I came across an article on the Tarahumara. They use the toe strike method of running, which is natural for barefoot runners. In this article it talked about their low incidence of foot ailments, so being in a great deal of pain I said “what do I have to lose”. I started a barefoot walking program and within 3 weeks my symptoms had disappeared. Today I use New Balance minimus trail shoes as they add some protection from the elements and still have the benefits of barefoot walking.
Walking is truly an activity that connects Body Mind and Soul. Walking is an amazing meditative activity. “Mindfulness”, when walking is a great way to stay in the moment and dissolve that dreaded past and future cycle which forces us out of the present. By focusing on our breath and each and every step we take we get closer to our inner being and true purpose. When it comes to fitness health and wellness, make small consistant, long term changes that are sustainable, and enjoy the journey.
By Bart Wagar.
“If a fine sword is not constantly polished, it will never show its luster. If you don’t practice, you will never be able to master universals and particulars. Plenty of people can talk about Zen, but not many can live it. Get to work!”