Lengthening your walking stride helps you cover more ground efficiently, and helps with fitness and flexibility. Striding properly will strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture. It also gives a good workout to the muscles that firm your butt.
Before you start lengthening your stride, focus on your posture as you walk. Walk naturally and comfortably with spine erect, chin up and eyes forward. Shoulders should be square, with arms bent at the elbow and held close to the body. Keep your back straight, and your stomach and butt pulled in. Allow your arms to swing as you move, and walk with a steady rhythm.
Push off each stride with your back foot and touch down with your heel and roll through your foot so you are pushing off with your toes. This movement engages muscles in your feet, calves, butt and hips, and uses your core muscles. As you reach forward with your front foot to lengthen your stride, you will find your hips drop toward the ground; the walking motion should be flat, fluid and easy. It may take some practice until it feels natural.
There are health benefits to walking with long strides, so don't make a marathon of your first attempts or you will get sore muscles. Walking in a group or with a friend is a good way to stay motivated. Many people finding walking to music at the right tempo helps a lot. Another great way to stay motivated to stride out is to walk the dog -- pet ownership has been shown to have other health benefits, too.
Stretch before exercising to reduce the risk of injury. If it's too cold, wet or hot, consider walking in a mall so you don't risk a sprain from slipping. Stay well hydrated and avoid hazardous conditions. If you are feeling ill, don't try to walk too much. Always exercise somewhere safe, and consider using a treadmill at a gym or at home if there are no other options.
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