This post will walk you through ways to analyze your gait to help you:
Walk across the room, turning at the wall and repeating the walk for several rounds. How quickly do you go? How comfortable are you, especially at the knees, lower back and neck? How small or big is your stride? Notice whether or not you have to touch the wall to turn, make a wide circle, or pivot quickly. Pay attention to your balance. Be aware of your stride length, especially if it’s small, which means you don’t trust your balance, though you are actually at MORE risk of falling with a shortened stride.
Go watch SpongeBob Squarepants and take a look at how he propels himself forward. See those flapping arms? Nothing going on from shoulder to elbow, but lots of movement from elbow to hands. If this is you, we bet your elbows hurt after a long walk. Same thing if you’re a wrist flapper. Ideally, you want a long arm that reaches out in front of you. And… you want the arm in back to be reaching behind just as far. At the top of your arm swing, you should have a triangle formed from both hands and the shoulder. In other words, what goes on behind you is as important as what’s happening in front.
What do you see when you focus? What do you hear? What is powering your forward movement? It’s possible you favor one side, especially if you’ve had any kind of leg injury. If you can get someone to listen as you walk (without looking at you), a limp or compensation just might reveal itself. So often we are asked why the left leg (for example) hurts when it was the right leg that had the injury. The answer is that the left leg is overtired from being overused due to overcompensation. So get over it!
Use power muscles to power your stride. Are you using your front or back leg to propel? If you want a shapely booty, push from the glutes. As we mention in our post “Why is My Body in Pain After Running and Walking,” running and walking require different muscle emphasis. Pulling from the hamstrings on the front leg will just make them hurt, and might also cause pain behind the knee. Besides, who doesn’t want a shapelier tush?Imbalances in your stance or stride may be aging you #Babyboomers #Walk #Gait Click To Tweet
Slow your walk way down and observe what happens throughout your body. Does your head bob forward or side to side? Maybe your walk improves. Maybe it falls to pieces. Notice if your arms keep moving or freeze in place. Especially note whether you start to move homolaterally (same arm and leg go forward rather than opposing arm and leg). Do you feel less or more stable?
If your head is forward and down, that’s where you are headed (hahaha. so punny). Your head needs to be above your body, not in front of it. Not only does “text neck” increase your risk of migraines and back strain, it also increases your risk of falling. Ever notice those people who are hunched over with their faces actually looking at the ground? See how their elbows are back behind them for balance? They didn’t get that way overnight. To check if that hunchback will be you, do the chin check. Stand in neutral position (read “Finding Neutral Spine” for a full explanation). Put a finger to your chin. Hold your finger in place. Retract head 2-3 times. Mark any gap. A big gap means you are a forward head thruster. A small gap means you win free neutral spine for life!Use power muscles to power your stride. Do you propel from your front or back leg? #gait #babyboomers #Walk Click To Tweet
Remember how we mentioned 5 tips ago that what goes on behind you is as important as what’s in front? Almost everyone knows the posture zip trick for the front, but do you finish that zzzzzzip by going down the back? Once again, you’re in luck, as we wrote a post (with video !!!) about the zip trick as part of our posture series.
Time to zip up this post. We hope you feel giddy about your gait as you get around the block today and every day.
You now know HOW to walk more effectively. Wonder though, what other benefits a refreshing walk will bring you? Go to Living Longer via Walking to bolster your motivation, reasons to get out and about, and your LIFE!
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Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
I know many people who love to practice yoga, as they find it to be a calming, centering activity that relaxes their mind AND body. I’m not one of those people. When I try to do yoga, my mind just wanders and I notice all the parts of my body that hurt. So yoga is definitely NOT relaxing for me.
For others, reading is a release and escape. For most of my life, I was the same, as I’ve loved to read ever since I was three. But now I just feel guilty if I read anything except professional research or nonfiction, as I have so many things I HAVE to read before I can pull out something I enjoy (or so my massive guilt hormone would have me believe).
Just as many people like to combine their foods, I like to combine my activities. That seems to quiet the guilt hormone beast that lurks somewhere behind my sweaty-mascara right eye. So I combine action with relaxation by walking. And baking. And taking pictures. But not of my baking because my photo skills aren’t yet good enough to make me feel warm and self-satisfied inside. Only a piece of homemade sourdough bread can do that.
Almost every day I walk. With the dog. Or alone. With my camera. Whether it’s a short 20-minute visit to our nearby meadow, or a 6-mile hike with a friend once a month, I always come back from my walks in a composed, steady state. I like ticking off the benefits:
* reduced stress
* completed most of my 10K daily steps
* created a happy dog
* focused mind
* shot some great (I have self-confidence) photos
* communed with nature (though I have strong opinions about bugs touching me)
* escaped (temporarily) the demands on me
* maintained my weight and fitness levels
What about you? Do you find it relaxing to combine activities? Are you able to appreciate yoga or meditation? Do you feel guilty about taking time to relax? And what do you do to relax? Do tell. I might add your idea to my list.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Do you like to stay ahead of the curve? I mean besides the ones on our baby boomer, midlife bodies? Then hold tight as we zoom through some of the key takeaways and quotables from the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention. Alexandra and I just returned from the main industry event that draws fitness professionals from around the globe. By attending many sessions focused on the over fifty crowd (Wheee! that’s most of us), I gleaned some relevant Fun Fit Facts, exercise trends, and plain ole’ good quotes.
Now to lay some of those fitness pro insights on you, so you can revel in the workout fun that lies ahead. Or more specifically, get your trending fitness quotes now while they’re hot!
Speaking of standing up, presenter Tomi Toles asked attendees at his “Walking Tall” session: “What muscles and structures do we walk from?” Most of us fell right into his trap — “Why, we walk from the legs, doncha know.” Wrong! After watching a video of a man with no legs “walk” on his ischial tuberosities (google it), we could see that great gait really comes from the abdominal wall muscles and spine. Want to be a better walker AND tone your abs at the same time? Check out our post on achieving great gait.
Come to my group fitness classes and look for our upcoming package of moves for “Fitness Over 50” if you want to try what we learned.
And that is it for quotes that “Inspire, Connect, and Transform” from the first day at IDEA. Subscribe, open your emails from us, and keep reading if you wonder how Day Two and Three managed to surpass the quality that was Day One. Coming soon to a blog near you. Near and dear, we hope.
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Readers: Which is your favorite fitness quote? One of the above? One to share from elsewhere? Let us know in the comments below.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Certainly walking isn’t as intense as running. However, both activities target similar muscle groups, which may be why results in improving heart health are so similar. Research suggests that the type of exercise may not be as important as how much you go, go go. So move forward; locomote; get your gait on!
Walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
Want some easy, practical walking tips to get you started or rev you up more? Watch our short video on Walking for Weight Loss (and More). Then bust a move to our post Great Gait: 7 Steps to Better Walking to really get the most out of your walks.
Walk For Weight Loss (video)
Another Fun Fit Fact about walking is that for every hour you perambulate (just had to use that jaunty word), your life expectancy may increase by two hours. Not only that, but a faster stride may also be a predictor of a longer life. (Convinced yet? Read our post Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination?)
Of all the cardio exercise options out there, walking has the lowest dropout rate! It’s the easiest, most accessible, positive change you can make to improve your heart health. And the benefits are exponential. The more you walk, the greater your odds of lowering heart disease risk. What are you walking for?
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Starting tomorrow and ending on October 12, I have pledged to walk (or swim or run or bike or dance or skateboard or surf or even skip to my lou) at least one mile per day. Of course, along with this is what I call The Whole Point, which is to raise money (mine goes to Cottage Children’s Hospital).
We’ve written a lot about how walking is great for the health benefits, weight loss, keeping weight off, and cognitive skills, so it’s pretty cool that the more I walk and help my OWN health, the more I can potentially help a sick kid.
My younger son had adaptive horse riding classes both in Oregon and in Santa Barbara throughout his elementary school years, which helped a lot with his balance, muscle tone and confidence. Some of the fees were covered by donations from … “they,” whoever THEY were – people in the community who cared. It’s my turn again to be part of the “they,” and I hope you’ll throw a few dollars toward my fundraising goal of $272. By “throw” I mean “click this link.”
If this were a radio ad, the next bit would be spoken very quickly, yet with excellent enunciation – All donations are tax-deductible and collected securely by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
As to the extra 27th mile, Miracle Marathon adds a special touch by rounding up one more mile “for the kids.” Besides, it would be impossible to walk for 26.2 days, unless I wanted to wake up in the middle of the night or something equally annoying.
I sincerely hope you will donate to my Miracle Marathon journey. And if you don’t donate, I sincerely hope you at least get outside for a walk and feel a wee bit guilty. I was raised with guilt and it works! Anyway, I’m an optimist, so I’ll just thank you in advance. Thank you.
I’ll add a tip that works for me – pretend you’re a marionette with a string running through the top of your head and down the center of your torso. Now imagine that the puppeteer is pulling the string up. If you’re more technical, just pretend it’s a plumb bob.
Because our Posture Series has made us so famous (hi Mom, hi Dad), we’ve been invited to a super duper event, where we’ll be offering posture assessments (and an energetic, fun Drums Alive class).
At the Yosemite Healthy Living Retreat at Tenaya Lodge, March 28-30, 2014 we’ll present a posture workshop, as well as a Drums Alive class to the attendees. Be part of Tenaya’s inaugural healthy retreat and join us at one of the world’s best wellness resorts (according to USA Today). Their focus is on interactive, fun, take home sessions and activities in a breathtaking setting.
Besides our classes, you will have exclusive access to wellness education on topics ranging from fitness and yoga to nutrition and personal care. Your weekend also includes special treatments in the Double Silver LEED-certified Ascent Spa, products and classes from Kimberly Parry Organics, and a hands-on culinary class and dinner with Executive Chef Frederick Clabaugh.
Why not book the weekend and join us? All kinds of good stuff going on for those with perfect (or imperfect) posture! You can focus on perfecting your gait too, by joining us on a walk right at the gateway to one of our nation’s most revered national parks.
No matter what, dear Posture Pals, do as the Dirty Heads suggest, and
“Stand tall, it gets a little better
I see the wall that we can break down together
Stand strong, it gets a little better now”
When you’re done singing and standing tall, sit down at your computer and book your trip to join us at Tenaya Lodge.
Photos: posture graphics – Dreaming in the deep south; all others – Tenaya Lodge
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Dear Bev, the pedometer I use is the Accusplit Eagle, a super simple clip-on that counts steps. It makes no noise and seems accurate … or at least consistent. Did you think I was just describing my sister by any chance? Ahh ahah No way! Nothing fancy and fairly inexpensive. Oh, wait. Maybe I am describing her. Mwah ha ha! Back to pedestrian matters: This link points you to pedometers rated best by Pedometers USA, which lists the Accusplit. Score!
Alexandra: You walked (get it?) into my mind trap Bev, because I just wrote my opinion of the Polar Loop a few weeks ago. I love its features — counts steps, calories, heart rate (with the optional monitor that straps to your chest), what you need to do to reach your goal, and the ability to sync to certain phones.
Really, the only missing feature is a garden gnome. One caveat — it hates my fingers. I have to tap it a lot to get it to show my stats. I don’t know if it’s MY Loop or all Loops, though it does seem to like the gentle caress that my son gives it!
Kymberly: You heard it here folks! Alexandra admits to being loopy. Back to our regular programming ….. Consumer reports did a review, but it requires a paid subscription to access their results. So I stepped back and went instead to their free article on how to choose a pedometer. Color me Fun, Fit, and Frugal! This article from the Mayo Clinic offers criteria for selecting a pedometer.
A friend and I also tried the PE -330 Tri-Axis when we were at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort a little while ago. (The resort provides the Tri-Axis for guest use). She and I wore these pedometers every day for a week. We compared steps to see whether it was accurate. Her legs are longer than mine (sigh… long leg envy moment) so our numbers did not match exactly, which was probably correct. Our test counts found this pedometer also pretty accurate. Very simple, lightweight, and easy to use. Like my Accu-Split, the Tri-Axis counted steps only.
In summary, I prefer and suggest using the simplest pedometer possible if the priority is to know your steps per day. Once you add in calories, distance, stride length, and more the gadgets not only get more expensive, but also less accurate. While I have an app on my phone that calculates distance and miles, (but not steps), I don’t always have my phone on my person so would not get total steps recorded. Nor do I want to always have my phone on my body.
Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care. About time. — Is a certain Chicago song now running through your head? You are welcome!
Ultimately I figure if I get close enough to 10,000 steps each day then I am meeting my overall movement goals. Hope that works for you too!
Walk your fingers over to:
2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By now you probably have heard the advice to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. I am on that mission now and, boy, it’s hard to get in all those steps day in and day out. Some days I am convinced the battery in my pedometer gave up the ghost. And that is after teaching a group fitness class and climbing the stairs home several times.
Why do you walk? Your goal — fat burning? weight loss? weight maintenance? disease prevention? — will determine your pace, time, and frequency. Guidance and answers lie below, so keep reading (maybe as you walk in place).
I take my dogs on their walk and still wonder — what will all this walking do for me? Is it sufficient to help me lose some of the menopause weight I put on? Or to keep my health at its excellent level? Do I need to walk faster, up and down hills to burn maximum calories? (For more on the relevance of high intensity interval exercise for people over 40, read this well-done post by our friend and colleague, Tamara Grand). Is a non-sweaty, beautiful, flat, beach mosey just as good? Will walking meet other fitness or emotional goals as well?Are you walking for health and longevity? Then 10,000 steps per day at any pace is the best advice Click To Tweet
So I kicked into my fitness professional mode and did some digging through publications and research. Walking is still the number one most accessible, successful, popular way to exercise and stay active. Whether you choose to walk indoors on cardio equipment or at a mall, or outdoors on trails or through your neighborhood, the first and most critical key is to log steps. One foot in front of the other. 9,998, 9,999, 10,000!
Next step, (ha ha) is to prioritize your goals. That will determine the intensity your walk will take. Are you walking for health and longevity? To improve your mood and mental hardiness? Then getting in those 10,000 steps per day is the best advice. No need to worry about intensity, duration, style. In fact, any more walking than you are doing now will improve your health. Trading tv commercial time on the LazyBoy for marching in place until your show comes back on is a body and brain booster.
What if weight maintenance is your goal? For once, research offers more info for women than men when it comes to specific suggestions on how much to walk for weight control. Turns out your age and gender affect the answer. (Just last week I told my group fitness class that the 10k minimum applied to all ages as far as I knew. Turns out I needed to know more. And now you know too!)
For women, recommended steps per day to stave off weight gain is broken down by age:
For men, it’s a little more generalized:
My professional opinion is that we need to move just as much, if not more as we age. (See our post Be Inspired to Age Actively). For our readers 60 years and up, why stop at 8,000 steps? Keep trying for 10k. You’ll get to more fun places!
What if your goal is weight loss? Now we need to talk about intensity and getting the most out of your perambulations!
First a Fun Fit Fact: (courtesy of Len Kravitz. PhD et al in “Walking Extravaganza,” IDEA Fitness Journal Oct 2013 pgs 40-47) Did you know your body has a natural or default walking speed that seems to be set to use fat as the optimal fuel source? Apparently our bodies naturally select a 2.8 mph walking pace as the most economical one. “Economical” in this case means expending the LEAST energy to sustain the activity. Not the pace for losing weight and burning max cals, but a great pace to using fat as fuel (vs carbos) and to stay motivated to keep moving moderately.
What does “moderate” intensity mean though? If you walk about 100 steps per minute then you are cruising along at a moderate pace. Another way to calculate moderate intensity is to complete 3000 steps in 30 minutes. Interestingly enough — especially for those of you who prefer the elliptical machine, a pace as low as 1.7 mph with inclines of 6-9% still stimulates weight management (not LOSS, mind you).
However, we are talking about kicking it up yet another notch to use walking as a weight loss means. We’re now into the “brisk” walk category. That 2.8 mph has to shift into calorie overdrive to 3.5 mph. Zoom zoom! Yes, walk faster! Go uphills. Hit the incline button. Breathe and sweat with no breaks for instagramming selfies. (That was for my sister, the ultimate selfie picture taker who is famously quoted as saying she does not want to actually sweat when walking.)
If you are tempted to add ankle or hand weights in order to increase intensity — uh unh, no, stop right there. Listen to the experts AND check out this post about why walking with weights is a bad idea:
Either may result in injury or repetitive stress syndrome. Nor do those added weights increase energy expenditure. Walkers tend to slow down just enough to account for the weights at the end of those limbs. Yes, risk goes up, benefits do not.
A pedometer study of an Old Order Amish community showed that the men averaged 18,000 steps per day and have an obesity rate of ZERO!! percent. Yes, 0%; The Amish women in this group averaged 14,000 steps per day with an obesity rate of just 4%.
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Alexandra is away presenting at a conference. That tells me to whip out some photos I took, add some interesting scoop from our vast files of saved fitness tidbits, and make posting life easy on myself. Then I will go for a walk!
Every season is a good time to fit in a walk. Are you surprised that people accumulate more walking steps in fall than in spring? Then you might also be surprised to learn that a Walk is as Good As a Run (Go ahead and click that link. Just come back here when done.)
A one hour power walk can extend your life span up to two hours. Keep walking … another 112 years. While you’re out there, read this post on Great Gait: 7 Steps to Better WalkingA one hour power walk can extend your life span up to two hours. Click To Tweet
“A vigorous walk can do more good for an unhappy person than all the medicine in the world.” Do you agree or disagree?Sleeping an extra hour a night could help you drop 14 pounds in a year. Click To Tweet
Getting the idea to walk then sleep? Perk up; Drop off; Lose weight. Works for me! If you want more images with motivational quotes, click over to our post, Quotes to Move You.
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Fun Fit Fact: People who subscribe to us live better. So skeedaddle over to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Photos: I took the above photos at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort, Tecate, MX and in Santa Barbara, CA where the sun shines summer, winter, fall, and spring.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
The Drenched 5K Run is coming this summer, and the folks who organize it were nice enough to provide the two of us with free registration, plus a code for you to save $10 off the registration fee, plus a free registration for one lucky winner!
If you read about our mud run adventure back in February, you know that we love runs where running isn’t actually required. We (and our boomer knees) had such a good time that we decided to do another. Bam (or should we say Sploosh), along came the Drenched Run.
We can run (no thanks) or walk (yes please) through mist tunnels, fields of sprinklers (that’s got to be more exciting than fields of gold, right?), sniper zones where the spectators get to squirt us, bubbles, fire hoses (what? those things are fierce), and a 75-foot long slip-n-slide. We signed up as individuals, but might switch to a team if we convince our friends and kids to join us. Which would you rather do – a team or individual? What we want to avoid is having our kids come with us, but stick to the spectator zone, where they are free to drench us with their water balloons, water guns, water bottles…you get the point.
Oh, as it’s family-friendly, kids under 5 are free and kids 6-12 get a discount. That’s sweet, as it’s already really low priced! At the finish line, we get to take a hot shower….oh, wait, I meant to say we get to enjoy a huge water balloon fight, music, drinks and dancing. We imagine they won’t be alcoholic drinks, as it’s a family event. We’ll hold out for some limeade.
One really cool little tidbit about the Drenched 5K is that it was inspired by the Water Festival in Thailand. We were actually hiking in Thailand when we were contacted about the Drenched Run. As we used to say when we were kids, “what a co-inky-dink!” That translates as “coincidence” in case it’s not apparent!!!
Research has proven what seems logical to most of us – the more you enjoy exercise, the more often you’ll do it. Here at FunAndFitTopia, we agree. So we’re making it easy for you to enjoy one of the Drenched 5K events, which are taking place in July and August in these cities:
COLUMBUS, OHIO JULY 6, 2013
WASHINGTON DC JULY 13, 2013
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI JULY 20, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA JULY 27, 2013
DENVER, COLORADO AUGUST 3, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA AUGUST 11, 2013
ATLANTA, GEORGIA AUGUST 17, 2013
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA AUGUST 17, 2013
You can get $10 off the registration price by using the code THAIDRENCHED. Register here.
One lucky person will win a free registration. Just follow the instructions below to be entered. You can choose any of the locations. We’ll pick a winner on July 12. We have signed up for the Los Angeles event, so we hope lots of you will join us. We promise not to squirt you (fingers crossed).
Photos courtesy of RunDrenched.com
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