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So you think you know how to walk

We all do. And as far as exercise goes, it’s our favourite. But what if I told you that walking can improve not only your physical and mental health, but your posture and body shape too? It’s all in the way you do it.

English fitness professional Joanna Hall has built a career around teaching people how to walk. 

Be warned that it might take a while to master, but if you’re a walker, you might as well learn to do it well. 

Joanna breaks walking technique into four areas: feet, hips, neck and shoulders, and arms. Focus on each part separately until you can bring it all together.

To start with, just concentrate on your feet. Become aware of your heel, your arch, the ball of your foot and your toes. 

Aim to land first on the pad of your heel. Then roll fluidly through your foot — through the arch and the ball — and feel your big, middle and little toes push off the ground.

Next focus: hips. Joanna’s advice is to imagine a tray extending out from your hips with two glasses of water on it — one at each hip. As you walk, try to lift up and out of your hips so the glasses are lifted evenly and there’s no spillage.

This requires you to draw your low abdominal area in and up, like a letter J. You’re lifting up more than sucking in. Don’t over-tense, and try to keep your bottom relaxed.

Your neck and shoulders need to be tall but soft, with your shoulders sitting gently down on your upper back.

Keep plenty of space between ears and shoulders. Joanna suggests pretending you’re wearing long dangly earrings that you don’t want to touch your shoulders. 

Finally, we’re at the arms. They should swing easily like pendulums, with a slight bend at the elbow. Lead with your elbow, and keep the back swing of your arms larger rather than the forward swing. No arm pumping or fist clenching. 

In fact, Joanna says to imagine you’re holding a potato chip between your thumb and second finger, and you don’t want to crush it. 

As much as this technique suits exercise walking, it’s also the foundation of everyday walking — just tone it down a bit.

Want to know more? Find yourself a copy of her 2013 book: Joanna Hall’s Walkactive Program.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018 | Rhonda Anderson