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While walking may seem like a simple task, having the proper form allows you to get the most out of your workout, injury-free.
Walking is a great way to change your body for the better—but good form is the key to seeing a difference. Standing and striding properly help burn more calories and work the right muscles. Flawless form keeps you safer from injury and steers you in the right direction, so keep these guidelines in mind during every walking workout.
1. Head, shoulders and chest: Keep your head up and centered between your shoulders. Focus your eyes straight ahead. Keep your shoulders back and down. Your chest should be naturally lifted, as if there were a string attached to the center that gently pulls it upwards.
2. Arms and hands: Your arms should be bent at 90 degrees. Swing them back and forth—not side to side—and keep them close to your body. Keep your hands loosely cupped as if you are holding a butterfly that you don’t want to escape but you don’t want to crush either.
3. Abdominals: Pull your belly button gently in toward your spine and tuck your pelvis forward ever so slightly so you feel tall, stable and upright.
4. Hips, thighs and feet: Power your movements from your hips rather than your thighs, but keep your hips loose and natural. Take short, fast strides that still feel natural rather than awkward. Land firmly on your heels and roll smoothly to push off with your toes. Think of planting your heel and then "pushing the ground away from you" as you roll through your foot.
5. Breathing and heart rate: Your breathing will be loud, but concentrate on keeping it even and steady. Your heart will be thumping, but focus on keeping the beats steady and regular.
A note to treadmill users: Use the handrails as little as possible unless balance is an issue for you. Avoid "water skiing"—that is, putting the treadmill on an incline, gripping the rails for dear life and using your arms to soak up the bulk of your effort. (This goes for walkers and runners!)