Welcome to exploring How to Have a Youthful Walk, Secret Number Three! Thus far we have been exploring that while walking is one of the healthiest exercises, most adults walk like they’re much older than they are. And yet there are other older people (the same age), who walk like they are much younger. In the first two articles we have shed some light on this with our first two youthful walking secrets.
In this third and final article in this series, we will conclude with a wonderful secret that older adults, who walk like younger adults, do each time they walk. (Please consult with your medical professional before beginning any exercise program.)
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. Okay, onto magical secret #3.
Your head. What is it doing when you walk? Specifically; where is it placed and does your head placement help or hinder your walk. This is very important to understand, and please read what I am writing because there is more to this than just a quick answer.
First, your head is heavy, and that’s with or without your first cup of coffee! The average weight of a human head, with fluid and hair is about 10 pounds. There are those that say it is more or a little less, but let’s take 10 pounds as a good number.
Now, if I asked you take a 10 pound dumbbell and hang it around your neck down the front of your body, how would that affect your walking? You’d have a sore neck, a pulled lower back, your body and balance would be pitched forward, you could fall with sudden movements, and the list goes on. However what I just described is what happens to most people when they walk.
They look down with their heads. Their balance is compromised. Their ability to change direction is compromised. They have sore necks and backs. And that’s what will happen if you walk and tilt your head downward while you walk. Notice I said ‘tilt’ your head down, because I think we should look down, but not with our head- with our eyes!
I was teaching a class one day, and trying to get this point across. So I adopted a very prim and proper English accent and said this, “You may look down your nose, but you may not lower your nose!” Of course, the class laughed, yet they all picked their heads up!
So here it is, secret #3
Secret 3: While walking, keep your head and chin up! “You may look down your nose, but you may not lower your nose!”
The challenge with this is not in keeping the head up; the challenge is in letting the shoulders relax while we are keeping the head up.
HOW TO PRACTICE:
Do this BEFORE you start walking:
- Lift up nice and tall. (Standing or sitting.)
- Relax and roll your shoulders around.
- Breathe deeply.
- Relax the head and upper neck area. Then try to feel the weight of your head as if it’s been balanced on the top of your neck, and that it can fall off at any moment. Get used to letting the weight of the head (by conscious control) be lifted and centered, on top of the spine while your shoulders and neck are relaxed.
We must learn to be aware that the shoulder and neck muscles tighten up when we drop the head downward. This isn’t helped by reading, sitting in front of the computer, etc. For argument sake, yes, the head will always be forward and front heavy, yet without some kind of conscious decision to hold it up, we will end up with the trained habit of a tight neck and a sunken forward body, lead by the head! As I say to all my students: Long and Strong, or Down and Round…
Thanks for your commitment to life, for reading my words, and sharing this! 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. and http://fitness4charity.org.