7 Tips to Boost Endurance and Burn More Calories
Though there’s no such thing as an instant cure-all, walking comes awfully close. If you’re already walking the recommended 30 minutes a day five days a week, you know how much it can rev up your energy and control your blood sugar. But you can do even more: These seven form fixes can help you turn a ho-hum 2 mph walk into a 4 mph workout, burning twice as many calories.
Begin gently: As you repattern your form, you may feel some soreness and fatigue as muscles make adjustments. But you’ll soon find that “walking tall” helps you feel—and look—great.
1. Focus several yards ahead to help drive you forward. Don’t look down—keep your chin level and slightly tucked in to avoid neck strain.
2. You’ll walk farther and faster if your back is straight. Every five minutes or so, roll your shoulders, back and down, pulling together your shoulder blades as you lift your breast bone.
3. Strengthen your core muscles and align your upper and lower body for better balance and endurance: Tuck your pelvis slightly by tightening your tummy.
4. Don’t get slowed down by back pain! Take short, quick steps instead of long strides, which cause you to bounce, put pressure on your knees and make you lean forward, straining your lower back.
5. Pay attention to how your feet hit the ground: You should land on your heel and roll through the center line of your foot to keep strain off your ankles.
6. Relax, concentrating on one step at a time. Your walk should feel more like dancing than marching—great dancers have perfect posture but still maintain flexibility and fluid movements.
7. Limber calf and ankle muscles will keep your walks injury-free: Stand with feet parallel, a few inches apart; roll from heels to toes, back and forth, 10 times.
Uneven wear on the soles of your shoes can strain your muscles and ligaments. This is most often caused by how your foot lands on the ground, either leaning in (pronation) or leaning out (supination).
Replace your walking shoes every 400 miles—between nine months and a year. If they are worn on the bottom on one side or the other, it’s time for a new pair. A fitness shoe store with knowledgeable staff should be able to help you find a pair of shoes that can stabilize your foot.
Another option is to buy a ready-made orthotic. Studies suggest that they often perform as well as expensive custom-made shoes.
Maggie Spilner is a fitness expert and the author of Complete Book of Walking
From our sister publication, Diabetes Focus, Fall 2011