Someone mentions “power walking” and you immediately picture someone with walking sticks, elbows swinging, and hips swaying. This doesn’t have to be the case. You, too can power walk every day by simply choosing what “power” is.

For the most part, we walk every day – to and from meetings, to get the mail, pushing a cart in the grocery store, walking the dog, etc. Each time you put one foot in front of the other is an opportunity to practice.

Below are eight ways to power up your walks and supercharge those fitness goals. Choose one for each day or every time you head out the door.

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Posture.  

Good posture is the foundation of any fitness program. If your posture is off, you’re recruiting muscles to do a job that they’re not meant to do, and begging for an injury.

Aside from practicing and perfecting your posture while you’re standing and sitting through out the day, a walk is a great way to practice posture on the move, before you tax your system.

Aim for your shoulders, hips and ankles to be in one straight line.

Breathing. 

Breathing deeply strengthens the immune system, improves posture and increases muscle, as well as many other benefits.

Walking is the perfect movement to develop a breath practice. If you can breathe deeply while walking, you’ll breathe even easier when you’re working hard – not to mention the fact that a deep breath brings you back to right here and now.

As you walk, begin with the 4-7-8 breath.

Relax. 

The more that you can relax into your movement (any movement) the easier it becomes.

As you walk, do a body scan noticing, and releasing any tension in your body, from the head down or feet up. From here, you can begin to isolate and tense muscle groups.

Tense your toes and release.  Tense your glutes and release.  Begin to feel how the different muscles in your body work.

As you pay attention, you can learn to recruit specific muscles for specific movements (ie, when you’re working the glutes, you can be sure you’re using your glutes and not the hip flexors or IT Band).  Relax!

8 ways power walking can help you with any fitness goal2

Tune in. 

Walking is an opportunity to tune into your body.

As you walk down the hall, what do you notice? Any tightness? How are you breathing? How do your feet feel?  How are those legs? Is your fuel (water, food, thoughts) serving you well?

Your body is constantly talking to you.  Listen.  The more that you can listen in the quiet moments, the more you’ll notice when you’re pushing the pace. Honor the information that your body provides, and know that pain is an indicator.  It doesn’t necessarily mean stop – often, it means adjust.

Engage that core. 

Having a strong core can improve your balance, strengthen your back, and tighten up your abs, among other things.

Walking is an excellent place to practice not only engaging the core, but also driving your movement from the core.  Take a walk, and practice engaging and releasing your core muscles.

Feel those feet. 

As you walk, notice how you do so. Where do you land on your foot? Are you a heal-striker? Do you pronate, and roll over your big toe? Or land on the outsides of your feet?  Do you clench your toes?  Do you feel steady and strong?  Or like you might fall over in a heavy wind?

Ideally, you want your feet to be relaxed (no toe clenching). Aim to land on the forward part of your heel, rolling over the toebox evenly (not inward toward the big toe, or out to the pinky toe).

Keep your stride short, and your posture tall.  Practice this while walking, and it gets even easier on the run.

Mindfulness

In our get it done now, more, bigger, better society, it might be time to take a walk. Let the “try harder” muscle relax. Put the weights down, take a mid-run break, or let that excel spreadsheet hold it’s own for moment or two and take a mindfulness walk.

Get outside. Take two or three deep breaths, deepening your exhale with each one. Allow your mind to wander, and your body to relax. You never know what answers may come.

Practice.

What’s your fitness goal? How can you incorporate it into every walk you take? Be it down the hall, up those stairs, or around the block.

You only spend a certain amount of time truly exercising – but you can always practice.  Every time you walk somewhere chose one aspect of your fitness goal to work on.  Notice how it improves your game.

With every walk, empower your fitness goals, and your life.  Now that’s power walking anyone can do!

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