What if we were to tell you there is a single form of exercise which could: trim your waist line, lift your mood, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and improve your back health — all without costing a penny. Sounds too good to be true?
This “magical” exercise is walking. It is a simple, low-impact form of exercise which can have a dramatic impact on your overall health in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Waking is often recommended by our Fareham chiropractors at Homewood Chiropractic Clinic, as we know how beneficial it can be for a patient’s back. It improves back health by strengthening the muscles which support the spine, improving posture, facilitating strong circulation and improving bone strength.
In this post, our chiropractor is going to share more details on the benefits of walking for back health and also offer some tips for maximising the health benefit you can obtain from walking.
How Walking Can Help Your Back
Improve muscle strength
Walking engages all of the muscles which keep your body upright, including core, leg and back muscles. These muscles eventually become stronger and more capable of supporting the spine. This is one of the main reasons our chiropractors recommend walking to improve back health.
Better bone health
Bone is living tissue just like muscle. It responds to exercise in the same way as muscle, gradually becoming stronger over time. This fact has been confirmed by a numerous studies which have found that walking improves bone density and reduces bone loss. In addition to keeping the bones in your spine strong, walking can also reduce the risk of degenerative bone diseases.
Poor posture is one of the most common reasons why clients seek out the help of our Fareham chiropractors. In addition to impacting your mobility and the way you look, poor posture can place a significant amount of strain on the back.
When clients visit our Chiropractic Clinic with postural issues, we always recommend walking where appropriate. Many of our patients have seen an improvement to their posture by simply walking a few times each week.
Less weight to carry
Many people have lower back pain caused by excess weight in their mid section. The additional weight causes the front of the body to jut forward and places additional strain on the lower back. Walking is a fantastic solution to this problem, as it can help you lose weight and reduce the load on your lower back.
Improves flexibility and range of motion
When combined with stretching, walking can lead to improvements in terms of flexibility and range of motion. These improvements will make it easier to perform day-to-day activities and can reduce the risk of back injuries.
Nourishes the spinal structures
Walking improves blood circulation, which helps to deliver nutrients to the soft tissues in the spine and remove any toxins.
Other health benefits
Some of the other health benefits provided by walking include:
- Reduced risk of depression
- Less stress
- Better sleep
- Improved skin tone
- Lower risk of diabetes
- Improved cardiovascular health with a lower risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
Maximising The Health Benefits Of Walking
Before you start, it’s important to talk to you doctor if you haven’t exercised for a while or are suffering from a chronic illness. They will tell you how much exercise is appropriate given your current fitness level and overall health.
To maximise the benefits of walking, keep the following tips in mind:
Buy a high-quality pair of walking shoes
Walking is much more enjoyable when you are comfortable. The easiest way to improve your comfort levels is by purchasing a pair of high-quality walking shoes or trainers. They will provide much more cushioning and plenty of traction.
Maintain good posture
Be mindful of how you position your body when walking. To learn more about walking posture, check out this great guide from walking expert Joanna Hall. Here are a few of the key points:
- Place your heel down first, then roll through each part of your foot, ending on the point of your toes
- Keep your shoulder back and head up
- Lift from your hips to reduce the impact on your lower joints
- Have a slight bend in your arms as you smoothly swing them back and forth
Make walking a habit
Initially, aim for at least 5 to 7 walks each week which are at least 25 minutes in duration. It doesn’t matter how fast you walk in the beginning, your main goal will be getting out of the house and walking. Once walking is a habit and you have begun to see some improvements in your health, you can start walking faster and for longer periods.
Try interval walking
Interval walking involves short periods of high intensity walking followed by longer periods of slow walking. It is a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. Try 1 minute intervals of fast walking followed by 2 minutes of slower walking to begin with and go from there.
Add some obstacles
Makes your walks more challenging by walking up or down hills. You could also walk over objects such as tree stumps, or rocks. This will increase how many calories you burn during each session.
Use hand weights
Increase workout intensity by adding some hand weights. They will help you strengthen your arms, shoulders and upper back.
Walking is a wonderful form of exercise for most people. Why not make it a part of your daily life and enjoy the benefits.