"I have two doctors, my left leg and my right." - George Trevelyan, 1913
I was watching a film last week and found myself wondering what was so distinctive about the star. (Other than the fact that she was tall and extremely attractive – but in a way, you’d expect that!) The film itself wasn’t that great, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the actress. I spent most of the time trying to puzzle out what had caught my attention. It wasn’t the plot, the action or the dialogue and finally, as the film came to a close and the star strode off into the distance, I realized what it was. It was her walk!
She walked in a way that exuded confidence, one foot firmly placed in front of the other (a bit like you see the models do on the catwalk, but without that exaggerated duck-footed effect that makes me want to giggle!) and although her stomach was flat anyway, I could see by the way she held herself that those abdominal muscles where being tightly controlled! Her held was held high and she looked straight ahead. The effect was brilliant! It wouldn’t have really mattered if she hadn’t been so good looking, because it was the walk that drew the eye.
So me being me, I have been trying it out ever since (when I’ve remembered!). And it works! Head up, stomach held tight, (this also protects your back) and place those feet firmly one in front of the other and stride! For women, there is a slight swinging of the hips (feminine, yet not over the top) and for men it is just as purposeful without the swaying! Do you know, I suggest you try it, as it makes me feel great! It is especially effective on those days when you are feeling a bit blah. A few minutes of walking like that and your energy returns, a slight smile (or even a grin) breaks out and you feel more confident. Try it, please, and let me know how you get on!
No matter what your goal is, if you are not looking after yourself, physically and mentally, then you will find it less than easy to focus on the challenges that face you. Walking, whether it is in the way I describe above, or in any other way (outdoors or on a treadmill at the gym etc) is a brilliant way to get your daily dose of exercise. It’s good for your heart, your lungs, your muscles and it is especially good for your feeling of wellbeing! Don’t you owe it to yourself to get out there and use those legs? Get walking and get moving towards those goals!
Are you one of those people who say “I always mean to get out walking, but I never get round to it….” Well, now is your chance to change that! You need the minimum of equipment (good comfortable shoes) and can go it alone. However, there are various walking groups you can join if you like joining others. The Ramblers Association here in the UK has a great site which is full of good information about walking and its benefits. They have groups all over the country, and I am pretty sure that somewhere near you there’ll be a similar group, almost anywhere in the world. (See http://www.ramblers.org.uk )
Health experts recommend that you accumulate a total of thirty minutes of brisk walking on most days of the week. That means that you can walk briskly here and there for say, five minutes at a time, and as long as you’ve done it for a total of thirty minutes, you will reap the benefits! So park your car in the furthest away corner of the car park and walk briskly to the office, get off the bus a stop early, instead of e-mailing people in the same office as you, get up and walk to them! There are so many ways you can get those thirty minutes to add up!
So, why would you want to walk more? Do you want to live longer and fitter? If you regularly participate in some sort of physical activity – like walking – you are very likely to increase your time on this earth! You are also less likely to suffer from heart disease and can strengthen your bones, as well as improve your muscle tone. You’ll be less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, you’ll probably sleep better and you’ll burn calories!
Where and when can you walk? Get creative! There are a few suggestions above (parking further away, getting off the bus early etc), but I am sure you can come up with many more! If you don’t already walk much, you can take it up! If you do already walk, where can you walk that is new? Varying the route will keep you stimulated and interested. If you only manage to get out for a short walk, how about timing yourself each time and see if you can beat the previous times? There’s nothing to beat setting small targets and achieving them to keep you going!
If you already have a comfortable pair of shoes in your cupboard (most people have sports shoes of some sort, particularly trainers) then this activity can cost nothing to participate in. All it takes is time and effort. Head up, stomach in and get those feet moving! And how do I know all this? Well, I was following my own advice today – I was out walking!