Walking is a great way to get exercise, lose weight and get fit, but if not done properly, it can be counterproductive. These four walking mistakes are the ones most often made by inexperienced walkers when starting a new fitness plan:
- Wrong Walking Stride
- Wrong Walking Shoes
- Wrong Walking Posture
- Wrong Walking Frequency
Walking Mistake #1 – The Wrong Walking Stride
It seems that if you want to walk faster, you could do so by taking longer strides – increasing the distance walked between one foot and the other. Wrong! Increasing your stride tends to result in an ungainly (and unnatural) walk that can end up hurting your feet and shins. If you want to walk faster, take shorter strides, but more of them during the same amount of time.
Walking Mistake #2 – The Wrong Walking Shoes
Not all shoes coined as “walking shoes” are good for your feet. If they happen to be too stiff, too heavy or too small, they may actually do more harm to your feet than good. When purchasing a new pair of walking shoes, consult with an athletic store expert. They can size you for a shoe that will be not only comfortable to walk in, but will give you the support, but also the flexibility, your feet need when walking.
Shoes wear out. While your favorite pair of walking shoes may seem like they are not worn out yet, they in fact may have lost their cushioning ability. If you walk 30 minutes per day three or four times per week, plan on buying new shoes every six months. Your feet will thank you for it!
Walking Mistake #3 – The Wrong Walking Posture
Using the proper posture is important when walking. Many people tend to walk with their head tilted forward and their eyes looking down. This creates an imbalance of weight and can lead to neck, back and shoulder problems. Instead, walk with your head aligned over your neck with your eyes looking forward about 10 to 20 feet in front of you. Strive to keep your head, neck, spine all in a line with each other.
Walking Mistake #4 -The Wrong Walking Frequency
You can walk too much. If you find yourself losing your enthusiasm to pound the pavement, feel tired all day and always have aches and pains, all could be signals your body is sending you to walk less frequently. The most you should be walking is six days per week. Your body needs at least one day to build muscle, repair torn muscle fibers and to put energy back into your muscles.
A better plan yet is to walk four days per week, do some upper body strength training two days and rest the seventh day. Your two days of strength training should alternate with your walk days, meaning you should not strength train two days in a row, but have a walk day or two between them. Doing it this way balances your upper body muscle groups with the lower body and it give the muscles you use for walking a little extra time off.
Don’t let these walking mistakes derail your fitness program. Take heed, walk smart and have fun! If you’d like to get more out of your walking for fitness plan, check out the “Guide to Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals” for more in depth knowledge on the subject of walking for fitness. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for the free MyFitnessNut.com Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.