Diabetes UK challenges us to walk 1 million steps in 3 months from 1 July. This works out at 10,000 steps a day, equivalent to about 5 miles. For many people though this is a manageable distance, the time it takes is a big consideration. Of course, we may cover a great many of these steps in our daily activity, as opposed to walking solidly in one stretch.
It’s well established that walking is one of the best exercises in many respects. But what if we haven’t got the mobility or stamina for that amount? What if the way we walk is holding us back? Walking is so normal, we take for granted the many harmonious processes going on in the body that allow us to smoothly and easily for long periods. That is, until over a period of time, our ability to walk diminishes. Walking becomes hard work, even painful, so we want to do it less and less. Perhaps our knees don’t work so well any more, or our hips hurt.
Maybe these limitations didn’t just happen because of our age. Maybe we can find a way back to that lovely ease of movement we had as a small child! When we let the body arrange itself so all parts once more collaborate with each other and gravity to propel us forward, walking becomes almost effortless. When we release the unhelpful habits we have acquired over the years, we might find we feel lighter and more comfortable.
A good starting point is just paying attention to what we do when we walk. Where does the movement start? Which parts of the body are involved? What are we doing with our feet? How are they making contact with the ground? Most of us don’t notice the body – even when making big demands on it – until it goes wrong. What appears to be a sudden unexplained injury may have been building up for years. What if we notice how it feels – what feels good as much as what is challenging or painful? Pain and stiffness are among the body’s tools of communication – they send a message for us to change our behaviour to protect the body. We may discover a gradual change in the way we move that allows our walking to become less tiring, more stable, and thus much more pleasurable and desirable. Happy walking!