A Head to Toe Guide to Walking

Walking's simple, convenient, free ... and it can save your life

A Head to Toe Guide to Walking

A Head to Toe Guide to Walking

In a landmark Harvard study of some 40,000 women over the age of 45, those who walked as little as 1 hour a week—even at a stroll—were half as likely to have heart attacks or blocked coronary arteries as those who rarely walked. Walking is easier with good form, so use these easy tips on proper posture to get started on your way to healthier tomorrows!


Yoga practitioners sometimes refer to the breastbone area as your "heart light." Keep your heart light lifted and shining straight ahead.


Pull your belly button toward your spine as if you were zipping up a snug pair of jeans. Keep those abs firm and tight as you walk.


With each step, plant your heel, roll onto the ball of your foot, and push off with your toes. Avoid rolling your foot inward or outward. To protect your feet and joints, wear good walking shoes. A proper fit means they feel great right out of the box. Make sure there's a finger-width between the end of your longest toe and the inside of the front of the shoe.


Imagine a string attached to the top of your head, pulling it straight toward the sky. Keep your chin lifted and your ears in line with your shoulders.


Keep them relaxed, down and slightly back. If they start hunching up toward your ears, take a deep breath and drop them back again.


Elbows should be bent at about 90-degree angles, hands slightly cupped. Relax your arms and pump them forward and back as you walk; they should not crisscross in front of you. Walking with light hand weights can help build muscle and burn calories, but too much weight will strain elbows and shoulders.

Want to pick up the pace?

Think short strides. One of the most common walking mistakes that people make is lengthening their strides to walk faster. When you do this, your front foot actually acts like a brake, jarring your joints and ultimately slowing you down. Instead, take short, quick, heel-to-toe strides. Your feet will roll forward more easily, and you'll move at greater speed without the stress.

Source: 30 Minutes a Day to a Healthy Heart from Reader's Digest