You don’t have to join a gym or run for miles to lose weight faster - all you need to do is put one foot in front of the other. While clocking up your steps throughout the day is great, making time for a daily walk is even better when it comes to your health, fitness and your waistline. However, there is a big difference between a leisurely ramble and the sort of walking that will help you lose inches. With that in mind, we have six tips to help you improve your stride and walk off that waistline.
Get the right shoe
Wear comfortable trainers with a broad toe area. These will give the muscles in your feet room to stretch and move. Think about the way you can stretch out your hand – you want your feet to be doing the same thing with every step. You need to use each part of your foot in turn, peeling off from the heel, moving through the arch and pushing through from your toes. Your stride should be long and although your toes should still be planted on the floor with each step, someone walking behind you should be able to see the sole of your shoe.
Lift your hips
As you walk, imagining that they’re carrying a tray bearing two glasses of wine – one balanced on each hip bone. You need to keep these two glasses level so they don’t spill over. This flattens your abdomen and helps you use the muscles in your bum, which in turn protects your hip and knee joints. If walking faster means compromising your technique you’ll need to drop back to a slower pace - that’s because technique is more important than speed to build muscle and protect your joints. Once you’ve truly mastered the technique you can pick up the pace again.
Keep your head level, without jutting it forward. The easiest way to do this is to imagine you’re wearing very long dangly earrings and you’re trying to show them off and prevent them from brushing against your shoulders.
Get the right momentum
Keep your arms slightly bent and relaxed and swing them like pendulums – don’t pump them like a power walker. Relax your hands and create a little natural rotation with each arm swing to help whittle your waistline.
Walk with purpose
Working towards a goal is a great way to motivate yourself. Why not get together with friends and train for a charity walk? A number of them take place across the UK each year, including ones for Cancer Research, Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity, British Red Cross and the British Heart Foundation.
This is important. Little and often is better than one huge walk at the weekend. Researchers from the University of Virginia found that women who did three shorter, fast-paced walks a week (plus two longer, moderate-paced ones) lost five times more belly fat than those who simply strolled at a moderate speed five days a week, even though both groups burned exactly the same number of calories per workout.
- Words by Karen Evennett
- Expert advice provided by sports scientist and walking guru, Joanna Hall.
- For more health and fitness advice, pick up a copy of Yours magazine, out every fortnight, on a Tuesday!