How Can Yoga Improve Your Posture?

A great way to improve your posture is by doing certain yoga poses.

Certain functions that we do a lot, like a long-drive commute or sitting in front a computer for extended periods of time, can raise havoc with our posture over time but there are ways to improve your posture. If you find your posture has deteriorated and you tend to slouch when standing upright, certain yoga poses can get you standing tall again.

Here are 6 Yoga Poses That Help Improve Your Posture:

Mountain Pose

The purpose of the mountain pose is to get your body to realize when your back is in perfect alignment with your head, neck and shoulders. This is called the neutral position. If you have difficulty with this pose when first trying it, doing it with your back against a flat vertical wall can help you find your neutral position. Once you know what neutral feels like, you can then do it without using the wall as a prop.

Boat Pose

This pose, called Navasana, strengthens your lower abdominal muscles, which support your lower back and pelvis. While breathing deep, hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.

Locust Pose

Salabhasana is an upper body pose that focuses on strengthening the muscles that hold the shoulder blades in alignment. As the muscles become stronger, they shorten thus pulling your shoulder blades down and back, increasing your vertical posture and alignment.

Bridge Pose

This is one of the best poses to correct for poor posture. It works by strengthening your spine and increasing its flexibility. This pose along with 69 others can be found on these online yoga videos.

Standing Forward Bend

With your hands interlaced behind your back, this pose stretches out the shoulders and hamstrings. To get the maximum benefit from doing this pose, pull your shoulders up by tightening up your shoulder blades as you bend over in half. Once in the bent position, release the pressure on your shoulder blades letting them slide back into place.

Cat-Cow Stretch Pose

While most of the other poses have been done from the standing position, the starting position for this pose is on all fours. By moving your spine through flexion (back down/head up) and extension (back up/head down) you’ll find the ideal neutral position of your spine.

Doing Desk Yoga to Improve Your Posture

Yoga doesn’t have to be done in a studio or at home; there are some modified poses that you can do to improve your posture while seated at your desk:

  • Seated Forward Bend – Push your chair back from your desk. While still seated, place both feet flat on the floor. Now interlace your fingers behind your back. Straighten your arms back while folding at the waist, bringing your interlaced hands up and over your back. Rest your chest on your thighs and release your neck. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
  • Seated Cat-Cow Stretch – While seated, start by placing both feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your knees. Now the breathing; on the inhale, arch your back and look up toward the ceiling; on the exhale, round your spine and look down. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.

While yoga doesn’t make you taller, it appears that you are taller by you finding your spine’s neutral position and making you stand more erect. Plus as a side benefit, it can help alleviate neck and lower back pain. So if you find yourself with a poor posture, try doing yoga to improve your posture and your overall health.

How to Prevent Yoga Injuries

Here are five ways to help prevent yoga injuries.

5 Tips to Help Prevent Yoga Injuries

Many people having never done yoga tend to think “How hard can it be to do a bunch of stretching exercises?” In reality, yoga is a sport, and like in any sport, injuries can occur. These 5 tips will help you to better prevent yoga injuries during your routine:

1) Do it Right

If you are just starting yoga, join a class so you can learn how to do the poses the correct way. Once you know how, then you can do a yoga routine off of a DVD or a YouTube video. Because many of the poses rely on balance and technique, if done wrong, injuries can occur.

2) Warm Up to Help Prevent Yoga Injuries

Doing yoga involves stretching muscles to increase flexibility. However, if you try doing many of the poses with cold muscles, you run the risk of a tear or pull. Almost every yoga routine is done in a sequence. A part of that sequence is moves or poses that warm-up the muscles in preparation for more strenuous postures. If at home, warm-up by walking in place or do a few sun salutation poses to get stretched out.

3) Prevent Yoga Injuries by Listening to Your Body

Yoga should be challenging, otherwise you would not get much out of it, however, it should not hurt. If when doing a pose you feel a twinge or pain, stop and rest. Once when ready, slowly try the pose again. If it still hurts, then try using a prop with that pose. If that did not help, then you may want to eliminate or substitute a similar pose that does not hurt in its place.

4) Focus on Yourself

The only one that matters in a yoga class is you. However, if you are focused on trying to keep up with your classmate to the side or in front of you, you run the risk on injuring yourself because the focus was not on you. Yoga is non-competitive, so keep your focus on doing the pose correctly or at least doing the best you can and don’t worry how some else is doing it. With the focus on you, you’ll notice when a pose doesn’t feel right and you can stop before suffering an injury. See how yoga poses are done correctly here:

5) Bring Your Own Yoga Mat and Props

This last tip is not about injury as much as it is about disease and illnesses. Because many people may use the same studio mat and props within a single day, let alone in a week, the cleanliness of the items could be in question.

To prevent yourself from picking up something as simple as athlete’s foot, or more dangerous such as a virus, bring your own mat and props. That way you know when (and how) they were last cleaned. Besides, it is nice to have your own equipment and it is not that expensive to buy.

By using these 5 tips when doing yoga, you reduce the risk of getting hurt or sick. Now get out there and have fun!

Sun Salutation to Corpse Pose in Yoga

Start your yoga routine with the Sun Salutation and end with the Corpse Pose.

Guide to the Yoga Sun Salutation and Corpse Pose

Surya Namaskara, the original Sun Salutation name, is one of the most popular yoga styles in the Western world. It derives its popularity from the flexibility of its three routines – A, B and C – which can range from poses suitable for a beginner to the more advanced.

Due to the simplicity of the Sun Salutation postures, called asanas, many people use this style of yoga when learning the breathing routines of Hatha, while many instructors use some Sun Salutation Poses as a warm-up to other yoga routines.

Differences Between the Sun Salutation Routines

Many of the poses are the same in each of the Sun Salutations routines. Here are the poses included in Sun A:

  • Standing Mountain Pose
  • Upward Salute
  • Standing Forward Fold
  • Half Standing Forward Fold
  • Four-Limbed Staff Pose
  • Upward-Facing Dog Pose
  • Downward-Facing Dog Pose
  • Half Standing Forward Fold
  • Standing Forward Fold
  • Mountain Pose

Sun B however generally substitutes the Warrior and Chair poses for the Upward Salute, whereas Sun C includes the Plank, Lunge and Cobra postures in its routine instead of the Four-Limbed Staff Pose.

Each of the routines are laid out in a sequence that allows the student to move from one pose to the next with minimal movement or lost time. Breathe in on the portion of the pose involving a stretch or extend; breathe out on the portion where you bend or contract.

Back to the Basics

In its basic form, its poses concentrate on stretching the whole body along with deep breathing to warm up core muscles. Warmed muscles are more pliable and flexible, thus reacting better to the moves within the postures. This also reduces the risk of injuring a muscle by stretching further than you could if not warmed. And because each pose can be done in a variety of ways, advanced students can do variations of a pose for more stretching and strength building or even a different routine.

Since the normal Sun Salutation poses are very basic, they are a great routine to do by themselves or to incorporate more advanced poses into them. For example, the Triangle Pose can be added to the Lunge to expand the flexibility of the hips, shoulders and abdominal core. The more advanced Standing Splits pose can follow the Mountain pose for an even deeper workout.

Unlike many other types of yoga, Sun Salutation can be practiced every day. Do one of the Sun routines daily and soon you’ll notice a difference both mentally and physically.

A Guide to the Yoga Corpse Pose

The Corpse Pose is usually the final pose in a yoga class. Also known as the Final Relaxation Pose, its purpose is to take you deep inside yourself through total relaxation and concentration. Because this pose is more mental than physical, it is often the hardest pose for beginner yogis to achieve.

In this pose, you lie completely still and concentrate on the awareness of your deepest and innermost state of consciousness, thus releasing the emotions and ideas that unconsciously guide your life – sometimes down the wrong path. It is here in this state that you find your true self.

Corpse Pose Benefits

Besides the physical benefits of the Corpse Pose, such as a decrease in heart rate, muscle tension and metabolic rate; lower blood pressure; a slowed rate of breathing, you’ll also experience a deeper calmness between your mind, body and soul. It is this awareness between all three that helps you focus, stay calm and experience less stress throughout the rest of your chaotic and hectic day. And we all know that having less stress, both mentally and physically has many health benefits of its own.

Doing the Corpse Pose

Start by lying on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides with your hands about six inches away from your body, palms up. Let your feet naturally rotate outward. And close your eyes.

  • Breathe in and out naturally.
  • Relax and allow your body to feel as if it were sinking into the floor.
  • Starting at the soles of your feet and working up to the top of your head, concentrate on releasing every part of your body.
  • When you get to your head, concentrate on relaxing your face; let your eyes fall deep in their sockets. Peace and silence should permeate throughout your mind, body, and soul.
  • Dedicate five minutes to this pose for each 30 minutes of yoga practice.
  • To end the pose, begin to deepen your breath. Slowly, and through gentle movement, bring the physical awareness back to your body, by starting at the far end of your extremities and wiggling your fingers and toes. Now roll to your left or right side; lay there and rest for a moment. When ready, deeply inhale while bringing yourself up to a comfortable seated position.
  • Finish bringing yourself back to the present and carry the peace and stillness derived from the pose with you throughout the rest of your day.

Start with Sun Salutation – End with the Corpse Pose

If you have to leave class early, be sure to warm-up with the Sun Salutation, forgo doing another pose or two if necessary, but do not forgo doing the Corpse Pose because no yoga practice is complete without this final relaxation pose.

Men Do Yoga

Men do yoga the same as women.

Men in India Originally Developed Yoga

While that may seem like a weird question at first, it is not. Think about it, even though the majority of photos we see today are of women doing yoga, or modelling yoga clothes and accessories in commercials, yoga was developed by men in ancient India. So we know that men can do yoga, and at one time not too long ago, dominated the yoga field.

So the better question frequently asked is “Why don’t more men do yoga?” The real answer is the perception of it in the male mind. Men are wired differently than women; most male sports are based on competiveness. Because yoga is non-competitive, many males view it as something not worth doing and therefore a “girly” sport.

In reality, their skewed perception couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, being the whole LA Laker basketball team does yoga, it must be something worth doing.

But in general, the real question remains: “Do men do yoga?”, especially in a mixed-gender setting.

Two misconceptions exist that prevent many men from participating in mixed gender yoga classes:

  • First would they be welcome in a yoga class dominated by females?
  • Second, are they flexible enough to participate in yoga?

Can Men Do Yoga in a Female Dominated Yoga Class?

With 77% of yogis being female, it can be overwhelming at first walking into a co-ed yoga class, especially if you are only one of a few, or even the only male in the whole class. But in most cases, it is not the women that is the problem – it is you.

Just remember all of you are there for the same reason – to improve both your physical and mental well-being. In most cases, gender is immaterial; the women will put out the welcome mat; you just have to graciously walk across it.

While still in the minority, male-practiced yoga is catching on; according to Yoga Journal’s own research, the number of males practicing yoga is increasing at the rate of 5% per year.

If for some reason you are uncomfortable practising in a female dominated class, search out a studio that offers all-male classes. Many of them now do.

Men Do Yoga But Flexibility is the Real Question

Because the postures or asanas were developed by men, many of them are more suited to men than women because of the upper strength needed to complete the pose; something most women lack in the beginning. But the flexibility question is real – women by nature are more flexible than men. Researchers aren’t sure why, but it is true. Also, men differ from women in that they tend to develop more muscles in some areas of their body while not in others – depending on which sports they practice. This muscle development can actually reduce flexibility.

Yoga not only loosens up developed muscles thus making them more flexible, men can increase their overall flexibility through yoga. And that is only one benefit; others include:

  • Increased mental sharpness
  • Less stress
  • Increased blood flow
  • Detoxification of the body, just to name a few

So the answer is yes, men can and should do yoga for a number of reasons. Check out a studio near you and join a class. Your body will thank you for it!

Will Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

If you want to lose weight, yoga can help you do it quickly.

Yes, Yoga Can Definitely Help You Lose Weight

Yoga physically burns fewer calories than traditional exercising like jogging or running. But because of the internal and external changes your physical body undertakes when you consistently practice, you can find yourself losing more weight than when you perform more intense exercises over time.

Beth Lewis is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology in the United States (Kinesiology is basically a study of human movement, and the mechanics behind it). She has stated that regular yoga exercising tends to influence weight loss more than it directly causes it.

Yoga Can Help You Burn Some Calories

The regular weight loss you are familiar with is when you burn more calories than you consume. And to a small extent, yoga will contribute to your weight loss efforts in this way. But the spiritual and mental understanding of how your body works that comes with practicing over time is what leads to a realization of what is causing your weight gain.

This changes both your energy intake and expenditure, and has consistently been proven to contribute significantly to weight loss, until your personal healthy body weight is achieved.

So while yoga can definitely help you lose weight and get in shape, do not expect the pounds to melt off as quickly as with some other forms of exercise. Remember that yoga was developed as a spiritual and religious practice, not as a physical exercise. Since yoga teaches you to breathe properly and achieve harmony in both mind and body, you can begin to identify healthier foods and habits which can relate to losing weight and fat.

And if you are one of those people who gets comfort from eating when they feel stress, yoga can definitely help there. Significant studies have shown stress levels plummet in veteran yogis and even beginning yoga practitioners that regularly practice this ancient mind-body cleanser.

Some Poses are More Intense than Others

Additionally, remember that there are several levels of yoga. There are those asanas and sequences which are more up-tempo and intense than others. Focusing on these poses and movements can cause your heart to beat faster, cranking up your metabolism.

Since yoga is a sophisticated tradition involving metaphysical, internal and external functions and delivering physical, mental and spiritual benefits, the improvements you will receive with regular practice are numerous.

And when you perform yoga 3 to 5 times a week, you will begin to benefit from the noticeable and mental weight loss benefits it delivers. If you currently live a rather sedentary lifestyle, any physical exercise like yoga will immediately crank up your metabolism, helping you to lose weight and making you feel and look healthier and happier.

How Can Overweight People Practice Yoga?

Yes, overweight people can benefit by doing yoga.

Yoga Fitness Tips for Overweight People

The great thing about yoga is it can be practiced by anyone – even if you are overweight. Yes, all the photos you see of people doing yoga are thin, fit and trim, but that for the most part is a marketing hype to sell yoga products and clothes because thin sells. However, there are stylish yet functional yoga clothes for the 36% of the people obese; sometimes you just have to look harder and do more research to find them.

Once you have the clothes you’re going to where and your mat, it’s time to join a class. The hardest part will be walking into the class for the first time. Yes, you might be the only overweight person there, but you should stand proud that you’re taking action and are at least willing to give it a try. The only one that will hold you back from doing yoga is you. The rest of your classmates could care less how you look as all of you are there for the same reason – to reap the benefits – like improved fitness, greater flexibility, reduced blood pressure, less stress, and yes weight loss and an improved self-image.

Best Type of Yoga for Overweight People

There are many different types of yoga. Because plus-size yogis may not be able to do many of the poses, or they may have to modify how they do some postures, one type of yoga is better suited for them – Iyengar. Lyengar yoga uses props like blankets, blocks, straps, harnesses and incline boards. These props make it easier to do some poses.

Helpful Tips for the Overweight Yogi

As a plus-size person, these tips will help you get the most out of yoga:

Create a good stable base. Spread your feet until they are a comfortable distance apart. While many of the standing poses recommend shoulder-width apart, if it is more stable for you to go wider, then do so.

Make yourself comfortable. You know your body better than anyone, so if a body part gets in the way while doing a pose, move it out of the way.

Use props. While you may not be able to touch your hands to your toes when doing the Standing Half Forward Bend pose, you can use a yoga strap and do the pose the modified way. If you have not used props before, ask your instructor to show you the best way to use the ones you need.

Learn to love yourself. Many overweight people have a low self-esteem. Because yoga is non-competitive, use it as an opportunity to connect with just yourself – body, mind and soul. Not only will you reap the physical benefits of yoga, but you’ll find peace with yourself and learn to accept yourself for who you are – you.

In most classes, you’ll find your classmates don’t care who you are, what you look like, or if you can’t do certain poses. All of you are there for the same thing – yoga. The only person holding you back is you. Find a class and get with it!

Strength Training Program

Creating your own strength training program is not so simple.

A strength training program encompasses everything you do in order to boost your physical strength. It isn’t just about exercises and workouts. It touches on everything, from scheduling the workouts and figuring out the frequency of each one, and also includes a careful look at your diet as well.

It may even include motivational techniques, since there is a very good chance that you’ll eventually give up due to the sheer amount of effort required to succeed.

It is highly recommended that you don’t try to create an entire strength training program on your own, unless you yourself have been highly trained on the subject. It’s too complicated a process, and there’s a very good chance that your efforts will be in vain. You may do all that hard work and still get very little benefit for your trouble. It also puts you at risk of injury.

Here’s a video example of a Kettlebell strength training program that can give you some ideas for creating your own program:

If you can’t create your own program, what are your options?

In general, there are two:

1. Get a personal trainer. A personal trainer can help you with just about everything you need. This is especially true if your trainer is also trained as a nutritionist. Before you choose one, take a look at several practical considerations first. Can you afford to hire a PT? A personal trainer may not be exactly cheap. You should also verify their qualifications so that you can be assured that the trainer knows what they’re talking about. Then you have to make sure that you can work with this person, because even the most knowledgeable trainer is useless if your personalities don’t jive.

A trainer will listen to you as you explain your training goals (whether you just want to look good, or you’re training for a particular sport) and then he or she will come up with a schedule that outlines when you should do your workouts, and what exercises you need to include.

There may also be a list of all the equipment you’ll need, although often they can all be found in the gym where your personal trainer works. The trainer can also help you with the right diet plan, including the health supplements you will need to take before, during, and immediately after a workout. And last but not least, a trainer can motivate you not to quit, because there’s always the temptation to give up.

2. Do some research and get a training program online. A training program is like a DIY manual. It gives you all the pertinent information that a personal trainer can provide. The problem with this is that it’s more generic, so it won’t be precisely tailored to your particular needs. Your best bet is to find a program for your profile. For example, a program may be geared towards elderly men, rehabilitating heart patients, football players, overweight individuals, or runners.

A good training program always includes lots of instructional videos, so that you’ll be able to do the recommended exercises properly. If possible, it should also include recommended diet plans as well.

Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals

Set your walking fitness goals, plan, get started and reach your goal.

Introduction: The Surprising Benefits of Walking

When it comes to exercise you might be surprised to learn how powerful walking can be. Walking not only increases your heart rate and cardiovascular fitness, it also improves your bone density and strength. This particular benefit is increased when you walk on uneven surfaces like trails or gravel paths.

Walking has mental and emotional benefits as well, and can help you reach your weight loss goals. Let’s take an in-depth look at how fantastic a walking program can be for you and what 10,000 steps a day really looks like.

Bone Density Improvements from Walking

Did you know that without exercise, after the age of 40 your bone mass decreases by about 5% a year regardless of gender or ethnicity? That bone loss leads to debilitating diseases like osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is “a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to fracture. Usually the bone loses density, which measures the amount of calcium and minerals in the bone.” (National Library of Medicine)

According to The Sport Journal, in the U.S., it has been estimated that by 2025 the number of hip fractures attributed to osteoporosis will double to nearly 2.6 million. And while women account for the majority of osteoporosis diagnosis and bone breaks, men account for 29% of the 2 million fractures that occur each year in the U.S.

It’s all pretty scary. You don’t want to break a hip or wrist, especially not when you’re older and your recovery time can take months, if not years. The good news is that if we go back to the very first sentence in this section, you’ll see that there’s hope.

Walking is a weight-bearing exercise. That means that you’re putting the weight of your body into each movement. Weight-bearing exercises actually slow down the bone density loss and delay or prevent osteoporosis. Now, you can’t replace bone density but you can stop or dramatically reduce bone loss, and a good walk each day is a great way to get started.

Additionally, if you walk on uneven surfaces and you keep your eyes looking forward (rather than constantly focused on the ground) you’ll improve your posture and your joint mobility and flexibility.

Walking for Weight Loss

Walking burns several hundred calories per hour. For example, if you walk for an hour at a moderate four miles per hour pace and you weigh around 150 pounds, you’ll burn 350 calories. If you weigh more, you’ll burn more. Additionally, there are different types of walking that can increase the calorie burn. Walking also kicks up your metabolism so you continue to burn more calories after you’ve finished walking.

Additionally, The Diabetes Prevention Program showed that walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight (12-15 pounds) can reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes by 58%. Since walking can help you lose that weight it’s a win/win for you. You lose weight and you prevent diabetes.

Don’t think you can walk for an hour a day? Consider breaking it up into smaller segments. You can take a 30 minute walk at lunch and three smaller 10 minute walks at other times. The benefits are the same.

How Does Walking Improve Mobility and Flexibility?

There are actually a few ways that walking helps improve your mobility and flexibility. When you walk you increase your heart rate, which pumps more blood and nutrients to your tissues. That helps your ligaments and joints stay healthy. Additionally, you work your muscles so they are more lose and better able to respond to the demands you put on them.

If you do a little stretching after your walk you’re helping take your mobility and flexibility to the next level. Why is mobility and flexibility important? It helps your posture stay tall. Many elderly people struggle with movements and mobility. Much of this is due to poor posture during their earlier years.

When you cannot move your body the way it is supposed to move, other areas of your body are forced to compensate. This leads to breakdown and ultimately it can lead to a shuffle walk and a hunched posture. Walk tall and stay mobile.

Walking Enables More Mental Energy and a Brighter Disposition

According to research on depression, walking for 30 minutes at a time, three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression by 47%. It makes sense. When you walk outside you are exposed to the sunshine, which helps your body make vitamin D. Vitamin D has been connected to both physical and mental well-being. Exercise also causes your body to release endorphins, which generate a feeling of contentedness and a positive outlook.

Whether you struggle with depression or not, you can gain mental energy and a brighter mood from walking. It has also been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce cognitive decline later in life. You’ll strengthen your brain and keep it strong well into your golden years.

Waking for Better Sleep, Cancer Reduction, Improved Cardio Health and More

Walking has also been shown to improve sleep, which is connected to weight loss. People who get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis weigh less than those who don’t. Walking reduces your risk of deadly cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer too.

More Good News!

Most anyone can walk for fitness and health. There are no special requirements. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting from a place of good health or if you have health issues you’re dealing with, you can walk and move your body.

You may start slowly and you may not get far in the beginning, but step by step you’ll increase your fitness. You’ll be surprised what you’re capable of. In fact, you can put on a pair of comfortable shoes and go for a walk right now. Let’s take a look at how walking can help you improve your fitness and lose weight.

How to Track Your Walking Fitness Progress

There are several good ways to track your walking fitness progress.

While you can keep track of your walking time by manually writing down the minutes walked in a journal, it’s a difficult way to track your walking fitness plan, if you exercise throughout the day. Instead, use technology to track steps walked instead of time spent exercising. There are several different ways to track steps walked:

Track Your Walking Fitness with Accelerometers

An accelerometer differs from a pedometer in that it measures a mechanical motion (walking) against a frame of reference and converts it into an electronic signal outputted as steps taken, among the other data collected, such as calories burned and distance walked; one of the leaders in this wearable technology is FitBit. Their products can also synch up with an app loaded on your computer, so you have an online journal of your activity.

Track Your Walking Fitness with Pedometers

Pedometers differ from accelerometers in the way they measure steps. They count the number of strides taken over time, meaning you have to input the length of your stride in order for them to accurately measure the number of steps taken. While not as accurate as an accelerometer, they are less expensive and you usually have to manually track your progress.

Track Your Walking Fitness with Online Journals

Applications and programs to track your walking fitness plan progress come in both free and paid versions. One free program from the website Spark People makes it easy to track nutrition, fitness and weight among numerous other things.

For a paid program, try Fitness Journal. For $3.95 per month, you can track the same information, plus a lot more, including when your walking shoes need replacing. It also allows you to journal your progress and creates various charts and graphs making it easy to see your progress. For a whole list of online tracking options, search “Online Fitness Journals”.

Track Your Walking Fitness with Smartphone Apps

Applications that run on your smartphone is another way to track your walking fitness. While there are many applications you can use, one of the most popular one for the iPhone, Android or Blackberry is MapMyRun. With this app, it uses your smartphones’ GPS capability to not only track steps taken, but duration, distance, calories burned and even the route you took on a map. It also has the capability to journal your progress online.

With so many walking fitness tracking tools available, there really isn’t a reason to not start a walking fitness plan. Buy either a pedometer or accelerometer and start documenting your walking accomplishments today. Before you know it, you will be at goal.

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 Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.

How to Breathe Properly When Walking

It's just as important to learn to breathe properly as it is to walk properly.

Breathing is a natural bodily function that most of us don’t think twice about when walking; it just happens, you breathe in, you breathe out. However, unless you consciously focus on how you breathe, most likely you are doing it wrong.

By using the correct breathing technique, you can gain further benefits from walking besides weight loss and getting fit; benefits such as lowering your stress and increasing your endurance also occur when you learn how to breathe properly.

Breathe Properly for Lowering Stress

When your body senses an increase in heart rate and more rapid and deep breathing, as in walking, it releases a chemical in the brain called endorphins. Endorphins, not only relive stress, but they also induce relaxation, improve mood and increase self-esteem. It’s no wonder many call it the natural “feel good” drug.

Breathe Properly for Increasing Endurance

By breathing properly, you get the maximum amount of oxygen to your lungs which in turn get it to your muscles via your bloodstream. This allows your muscles to work harder and longer that would otherwise be possible if you were not breathing deeper than normal.

Proper Breathing Technique

While there is no set “rule” for breathing while walking, most experts agree that diaphragmatic breathing, or “belly breathing” as it is sometimes called, provides the most oxygen to your lungs.

Diaphragmatic breathing while exercising is different than breathing while at rest. To start:

  • Relax your abdominal muscles slightly.
  • Breathe deeply enough so that your stomach extends out on the inhale and contracts in on the exhale.
  • Adjust the quickness of your breathing pattern as necessary to meet your oxygen needs while walking.

Pushing your stomach out on the inhale allows you to get much more air into your lungs; using your diaphragm on the exhale pushes more air out of your lungs. Whether you breathe through your mouth or nose is a personal preference. If you do breathe through your nose and you find you need more air than you can get, switch to breathing through your mouth.

Meditation Breathing

Some people like to focus on the rhythm of breathing while exercising. Breathe in deeply for three steps and exhale for three steps. By focusing on this rhythmic breathing, it becomes a sort of meditation practice or a point of focus.

Just Get Out – Breathe Properly and Walk!

Regardless if your goal for walking is weight loss, fitness, relaxation or relieving stress, it is an exercise program that can be done virtually anywhere; all that is required is a pair of walking shoes and the desire to get out and walk. So take a deep breath and get started!

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 Newsletter to be kept up to date on the latest health and fitness topics.