Active Walking

Katharine Green
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This week’s article'Walk away your bingo wings: How simple changes to the way you walk could cut your flab by 15 per cent' couldn’t help but catch my attention. The article is about a walking workshop with Joanna Hall, founder of ‘Walkactive’, a technique that she claims can turn the simple act of walking into an entire body workout to tone, slim and improve posture. This active walking technique resonates so much that we teach at Nordic Walking East Anglia. We take it one step further by adding poles and therefore intensifying the workout for the upper body.

Joanna Hall is one of the UK’s leading Diet & Movement Specialists, a regular on TV & radio, former resident fitness expert on ITV’s This Morning. Her WalkActive technique involves the body walking with correct postural alignment, so the right muscles are used, in the right way, at the right time & in the right sequence. The results are dramatic, sustainable & lasting: improving posture, reducing joint impact, increasing fitness & impressively streamlining the body. Does this all sound familiar…?

She emphasizes one of our biggest downfalls; the passive foot. Our repetitive reminder to our walkers of ‘Roll the feet’ or as she calls refers to it, as ‘ Feel the Peel’ (imagine Velcro stuck to the bottom of your shoes) has it’s reasons. Having active feet, has 3 unique body benefits; not only does it open your whole posture, but it helps with your tracking and your ankle, knee and hip alignment. It lengthens the leg muscles, and stimulates the correct muscle recruitment, of the often under active glutes. We need to change the emphasis from relying on our hip flexors (shortened from too much sitting) and quads to engaging the ‘powerhouse’ of our behinds.

Like Nordic walking she emphasizes the improved posture from having a lengthened stride, increase in pace and the lengthening of the torso. When you are Nordic walking you have the added benefit of being able to push down and away through the pole, which helps increase the distance between your ribs and your hips, and feel lifted in the waist.

When it comes to the arm movement and rotation of the upper body, Nordic walking can take the WalkActive technique one step further, by having a full arm swing and the pole to push against. We mustn’t forget where Nordic walking originated from and how much of a workout cross country skiing is.

So when we read articles like ‘Half an hour of walking better than gym for losing weight’ in yesterday’s Times. It couldn’t’ be an easier life style change, everyone can find time in their day to walk from A to B. Researchers from the London School of Economic and Political Science say the benefits of ‘high impact walking’ (walking quickly enough to raise the heart rate and prompt a sweat), outweigh those from running, swimming and going to the gym. The wonderful thing about Nordic walking is you can pick up pace but with a lower perceived effort.

Further reports from the NHS

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