For most people, fitness plans begin and end with a gym membership. We think it is obvious that a gym has all the machines and what is required to lose weight, build muscles, and amp up overall health.
What many don’t know is that we can attain the same benefits from running and walking as well. Both activities provide an abundance of physical and mental health benefits.
I am not suggesting that you quit your gym altogether. No, but incorporating a walk or run in your daily workout regime is highly recommended and will do you a lot of good in the long-run.
In fact, experts suggest that brisk walking for 30 minutes at a moderate speed every day can burn 150-200 calories. Additionally, long walks can help clear your thoughts and calm you down.
IS THERE A CORRECT WAY OF WALKING AND RUNNING?
Your spine should be straight, with a correct alignment of the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
Your arms should be bent at 90 degrees and swing back and forth (not across the body) from the shoulders. Your legs will naturally move in synchrony, so the faster you swing, the faster you will walk.
Your feet should land heel first with each step. You should then roll through the foot and push off with your toes.
“Show me the sole of your shoe at the end of every stride,” says public-health and transportation consultant Mark Fenton. If you hear a slap-slap when your foot lands, you’re landing too abruptly, rather than rolling smoothly.
HOW ABOUT RUNNING?
Running is free, you can do it anywhere, and it burns more calories than any other mainstream exercise.
Regular running can reduce your risk of long-term illnesses, such as heart disease. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control. If you have not been active for a while, you may want to build your fitness levels gently with our guide to walking for health before you move on to running.
Running requires little equipment, but a good pair of running shoes that suit your foot type may help improve comfort.
The following are a few tips to consider when running:
START OFF SLOW
Start with warm up stretches in order to prepare the body for the activity.
WEAR LOOSE-FITTING Try not to wear cotton clothing while running. Loose-fitting clothes allow heat to escape.
RUN AT YOUR OWN PACE
Do not run at a pace two minutes faster than your usual pace; challenge yourself, but don't overextend yourself. Listen to your body and run at a pace that is comfortable for you.
LAND FIRST ON YOUR HEELS WHEN YOU RUN
Running on your toes will quickly lead to shin splints and other injuries.
TAKE CARE OF INJURIES.
Do not press yourself to run while injured. To recover from an injury, use the RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Don't run if you have an injury as you will only make it worse.
OVERUSE A RUNNING SHOE
Rotate several pairs of running shoes at the same time, even if they are the same model. This keeps any particular shoe from causing irritation or wearing excessively in a particular area.
Five to 10 minutes of light jogging/walking will slowly decrease body temperature. Stretching can be an appropriate way to cool down as it helps the muscles to relax and increase their range of movement.
However, it is always recommended to consult your physical therapist on what is important and suitable for the body.
The writer is physical therapist, Chiropractic & Physiotheraphy Health Centre.