Let’s explore How to Have a Youthful Walk, Secret Number Two! Here’s what we mentioned in the first article: One of the healthiest exercises we can do is to walk, and yet there’s a problem: Most older people walk like they’re much older than they are. And yet there are other older people, the same age, who walk like they’re young. Why?
In the second article in this series, we will continue to explore the secrets that older adults, who walk like younger adults, do each time they walk. (Please consult with your medical professional before beginning any exercise program.)
So let’s continue: Is there some miracle that ‘young’ walkers understand that the ‘older’ walkers do not? Other than medical issues, individual differences, and chronological age, the most common reasons one person walks differently than another is how well a person understands and is able to use their body. Let’s move to Secret #2:
Your ARMS! What do you do with your arms when you walk? Have you ever thought about it? Specifically, how much do your arms swing back and forth with your steps when you are walking? Most people don’t move their arms very much at all. They have tight shoulders and so their arm movement is limited. Yet our arms play such a wonderful role in keeping us moving forward, helping us balance, providing momentum, that we need them moving as best and as freely as they can. So how do we accomplish this? Secret #2:
Secret 2: Practice swinging your arms before you walk, so your arms stay loose when you walk!
This is easy! Here’s how to do this:
- Stand up and stand still, legs slightly bent at the knees, weight more toward the ball of the foot (the front of the foot). –
- Relax your neck and shoulders, balance and breathe deeply.
- Find a spot in front of you, at about your eye level, at least 10 feet away, more is fine.
- SWINGING THE ARMS: Let your arms rest at your side, and then gently raise one arm forward as the other goes backward, as if you’re walking. Then relax the forward arm and reverse the swing. Let the forward arm swing back while the backward arm swings forward. This is no different than what your arms would do naturally when you walk, so please add your own interpretation to my instructions.
- Here’s the SECRET: Train the arms to swing as if they are completely relaxed and heavy, without the neck and shoulders helping. In other words, train the arms to swing on their own, and relax the neck and shoulders- don’t let them help! Let the weight of the arms freely swing forward without you feeling like your body is being pitched forward. Most people can’t swing their arms freely without tightening up the shoulders!
When you do this correctly, sometimes you will feel a tingling in your fingers. Children do this; standing up and swinging their arms back and forth. The miracle here is that this movement teaches the arms to move INDEPENDENTLY of the body. Too many adults have such tight shoulders that their arms hardly move at all when they walk, though they may think they are. Consequently, their step or stride length is reduced automatically.
When you loosen up the shoulders and do this simple exercise before you walk, you’re telling your body: I want my arms to move independently from my shoulders, I want a big and safe steps, and I want a youthful walk.
HOW TO PRACTICE: Practice swinging the arms back and forth, right before you walk, swinging them back and forth about 20 times or so, bending your knees at the same time. Become aware of any tightness in the neck or shoulders and let it go so the arms can swing independently.
The truth is that we have formed a civilization that uses our shoulders for so many daily activities, from reading to driving, using the computer, that if we don’t train the arms to stay loose, they will automatically become stiff when we walk! In other words, you can’t out think your muscles- you must out move them- and that takes a specific movement. Train the arms to stay lose and free, or the day’s activities will train them to be stiff. Simple.
See you soon! Best Blessings of Health from the Wizard of Youth.
John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program or advice. The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice. Contact him at John@wizardofyouth.com, and bring him in to entertain your audiences! http://wizardofyouth.com & http://fitness4charity.org
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