Study after study has touted the benefits of walking for arthritis. But has your walking routine started to feel a bit … routine? You’ve tried taking different routes and walking with a friend, but it still feels a little ho-hum. Or maybe your doctor has suggested that you start a walking program. Try these creative twists to keep walking interesting. As always, if you’ve never exercised before, talk to your doctor before starting any fitness program.
To experience a mental and physical workout, try ChiWalking.
Emphasizing good posture and proper breathing, ChiWalking incorporates the principles of tai chi with walking. “It is a mindful practice because it requires focusing the mind to direct the movements,” explains Katherine Dryer, co-founder of Asheville, N.C.-based ChiWalking. According to Dryer, ChiWalking is easy on the joints. It also improves balance and allows practitioners to walk farther with less effort.
During ChiWalking, instead of letting your mind wander and thinking about your to-do list – or even the scenery – you pay attention to your movements. As a physical practice, ChiWalking emphasizes walking with good posture – and a slight lean forward – while keeping your core muscles tight, joints loose, and arms and legs relaxed. It’s based on five steps: aligning your body, engaging your core muscles, creating balance throughout your body, choosing to walk regularly and then continually increasing your practice. For example, if your shoulders are stiff, you would focus your mind on keeping them relaxed and swinging your arms.
To burn more calories and get extra support, try Nordic walking.
At first, strolling down the sidewalk using what looks like a pair of modified ski poles to help propel you might seem odd, but consider this: Nordic walking burns up to 20 percent more calories. Plus, the poles reduce strain on knees and provide extra support if you have poor balance.
Nordic walking allows walkers to transfer the impact from their legs to the poles, making exercising more comfortable. The poles also encourage proper walking technique and give your upper body a workout.
“It combines the advantages of fitness walking and cross-country skiing,” says Bernd Zimmermann, founder of the American Nordic Walking Association in Los Angeles. “It is a very efficient full-body workout for walkers at all levels.”
For even more walking routines and ways to modify your walking routine for your specific type of arthritis, visit our new Your Exercise Solution tool!