But don’t just throw on some sneakers and go for a stroll around the block. To get the most effective workout from walking, you need to practice proper form. Follow these three walking principles from New Balance’s Good Form Walking program:
Take shorter strides at a faster pace. “Stride is unique to each person, but it’s often much shorter than you’d expect,” says Perkins. “If your stride is longer than necessary, you will begin to displace hips.” To find your ideal stride, test out longer and shorter stride lengths until you find the distance where your hips do not displace and swing. How will you know you got it right? The proper stride will feel nearly effortless, and you should feel your glutes working.
To nail proper foot strike, pay attention to which part of your foot hits when it first touches the ground, explains Perkins. “You want the outer edge of your heel to touch down first. Then, as your body moves forward, you should naturally roll over the foot, through the arch and then off the toes.” Don’t actively push off from the toes—allow the foot to roll with toes leaving the ground last. Watch this fitness walking demo to see what she means.
Walk with a long, tall spine. “Imagine standing up straight and extending your head towards the sky,” suggests Perkins. This will allow your body to move with proper mechanics, which helps support your hips and spine, while also causing your core and abs muscles to activate. Check in with your body every 5 to 10 minutes to make sure you are standing tall and drawing your core muscles inward, she says.