Active Seniors are participating in Steptember this month, encouraging our members, and staff, to count their steps each day and accumulate as many steps as possible. We thought we’d share some tips with you to help ensure you are getting the most out of your walks. Walking as many steps as you can in a day is great, but it turns out walking is very much like food. Just like we need to eat a variety of different foods to achieve all the nutrients we need to be healthy, we also need to add variety to our walks for our bodies to achieve the maximal possible benefits to improve our health.
Below are some of the ways in which you can make your walk more nutritious, as adapted from biomechanist Katy Bowman (from https://nutritiousmovement.com/)
- Add texture – walking over lumps and bumps deforms the foot joints more, creating loads that wouldn’t normally occur. Normal paths don’t offer much to mobilise these joints, so look to the side of the footpath for lumps and bumps! There are also plenty of bush walks and beaches in and around Sydney if you are looking for more of a challenge.
- Add different terrains – try walking up and down hills and slopes. Again, there are plenty of hills in and around Sydney for you to walk up!
- Walk with other people – walking with others means you will walk at a different pace than you normally would, meaning your body will also be working differently than normal. Also it can change your mood, which also changes how you walk.
- Add technology – if it helps you to walk, then use it. Plenty of our members are getting into the spirit for Steptember and are using pedometers of various forms to encourage them to walk as many steps as possible. You can also listen to a podcast or audiobook while walking and use both mind and body at one time.
- Carry something, and change the way you hold it to constantly change the muscles which are being used.
- Walk with a child – walking slower than normal encourages our body to work differently. A certain Active Seniors toddler is great to walk with and no walk is ever the same. She varies between slow walking, running, walking in a straight line, zig zagging, bending down to look at snails, running away from said snail… all stuff you may not get away with on your own!
- Go somewhere novel – walking in a familiar place automatically changes your level of alertness to mindlessness. Even a small change like changing direction or the side of the road you walk on will make you more alert.
- Gather (or hunt!) – walking upright isn’t as nutritious as stopping to bend, reach, etc. Again walking with children and those young at heart comes in handy for this! Take advantage of the beautiful environment that we live in and stop to take a closer look at your surrounds. You’ll be amazed at how much is going on around you, even on a walk around your neighbourhood that you may have walked around for years.
- Walk further. Aim for 15,000 steps or more per day. Take every opportunity to add more steps to your day. Also keep in mind that step counters tend to overestimate how far you are walking, so add in extra steps to make sure you’re reaching your target.
- Walk more frequently – breaking up repetitive geometry (i.e. sitting/not moving for hours at a time) has been shown to change arterial function. Katy Bowman mentions a one week challenge of a 5 minute walk every hour for a week. Give it a try and let us know how you go! It will also help you increase your total number of steps each day.