Wonderful Walking November Challenge Week 4
All through November I posted on walking, and you can see day 25 - 30 here!
Tight back? Could be tight hips!
Our body is listening to us all the time and trying to optimize to what we do the most. And as far as hips go, the thing we do the most is flex them. Flexion of the hips is what sitting looks like. And we do a lot of it! So our muscles optimize to be the best for sitting, which leaves them a little too short and tight for the other non-sitting things we want to do - like walk! An easy way to stretch them is to lie with elevated hips, a bolster, foam roller, yoga block or a couple of stacked pillows are all good for this. Position yourself so your pelvis is tipping back toward you - no back arch. Then you can play around with some of the variations in the pic. It feels great!
"Thoughts come clearly while one walks." - Thomas Mann
One thing I've definitely noticed is that we as a society believe that work must be performed sitting down. But this is the age of technology! We have never had such opportunity to cut the cord and work from anywhere we want, any WAY we want. We can take phone calls, dictate messages and documents, listen to training materials, all while our feet are moving. And why not do it in person? Take a walking meeting! There might be a little mental resistance at first, but I think the sweet taste of freedom will win you over. So take it outside!
"The Americans never walk. In winter too cold and in summer too hot." - JB Yeats
One of the first things I noticed about my walking habit was that I was only motivated to do it with the weather was 'just right.' Too cold, too dark, too wet, too sunny, too hot - I wasn't interested. Truth was, I wasn't prepared for those conditions; I didn't have a plan. Once I committed to my walking regardless of weather or season, I found a way to make it work. In our fair North, having the cold weather gear is vital. In fact, once I had what I needed to protect myself from the cold, I found I really like walking in winter. A lot! And at this time of year with the short days we have to find safe ways to walk in the dark. So your challenge: what do you need to make walking in 'non perfect conditions' pleasurable?
"Go outside and walk a bit, long enough to take in and record new surroundings. Enjoy the best kept secret around - the ordinary, everyday landscape that touches any explorer with magic." - John R Stilgoe
First I walked for exercise. Then, because I found nature soothing. Then, to run errands and complete tasks. Then to commute. Then to interact with community. And do work. Then, I discovered a new reason - to learn about the world! In my case I became aware of how little I really knew about the nature I loved to walk through. So I got some books on flowers, edible plants, and birds, and suddenly a whole new world opened up to me. It's a different type of walking, too, which I love - it requires outward attention, a slow pace, plenty of stopping, and lots of squatting, crawling, and looking around. If you're more the urban walker, it's fascinating to do walking tours of cities for things like architecture. I'm more tuned in, learning about the world I live in, and walking in varied ways. Win!
Apples and oranges, they're just different
People often tell me they have no walking habit to speak of, but they have a regular running practice. There seems to be confusion around running and walking being interchangeable - they are not. They both will move you through space, but they have a few significant differences:
walking means one foot on the ground at all times, running may include a 'flight phase' with no feet on the ground
walking is (hopefully) smooth forward movement, running is bouncing.
Walking uses a heel to toe gait, running (usually) reverses this as toe to heel.
There significantly more G Forces in running than in walking, which affects the amount of weight your joints are loaded with each step, which often manifests in running producing more injuries
So if you enjoy running, keep on enjoying it! Just know that moving faster or feelings of intensity don't make running greater than walking - it's just different. And walking is still the gold standard for full body weight bearing, muscle toning, bone building, calorie burning, cell regenerating, lymph circulating, and heart functioning - while minimizing unnecessary forces on tissues.
Walking gets you a dose of Vitamin Nature
Both adults and children now spend approximately 90% of their time indoors! This has been correlated to a rise in illnesses such as allergies and asthma. There are a multitude of benefits to spending time in nature, some of which include:
reducing symptoms of ADHD
reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
help prevent or reduce obesity and myopia
boost immune system
improve cognitive function
The effects of nature are so potent doctors have begun prescribing it! So it can't be overstated that a walking habit provides you with much needed outdoor and nature time, which is vital to our health and sense of wellbeing. I hope you have enjoyed our Wonderful Walking adventure. See you on the trail!