When we talk of fitness walking, there is a tendency to think that only your leg muscles are worked.
This article was originally published here.
I'm sure you've got it by now: fitness walking is a complete sport with more than one muscle to its bow.
Walking, especially at a brisk speed, is a complete exercise which gently works your muscles, enabling them to stretch, while improving overall posture. Since it also helps with relaxation, sleep and the release of endorphins, walking not only improves the muscle tone of your whole body, but also gives you an energy boost.
Fitness walking is first and foremost a workout for your legs and helps strengthen your thighs, glutes and calves.
How do these muscles work? At the front of the thigh, the quadriceps stretches the leg and bends the thigh at the hip. At the rear, the hamstrings enable the knee to bend and rotate and the femur to extend: they contract each time you fold your legs.
Glutes are the most powerful muscles in the body. Genuine stabilisers, they enable us to stand upright and thus prevent falling! They are particularly worked when walking, especially at a brisk pace. When going uphill, your glutes contract intensely and gradually become toned.
Your calves help extend the ankles and play a role in generating momentum.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't just work your legs and thighs when walking!
Firstly, as you accelerate, your heart rate changes your breathing and this effort strengthens your abdominals naturally, without your realising. In addition, your abdominals act as 'stabilisers' for the body and are worked constantly while walking to keep your body balanced.
The effort put in by your heart is proportional to your walking speed.
Fitness walking requires moderate effort which is risk-free and will gently help your heart as much as your other muscles!
Lastly, lengthening your stride and increasing your pace when walking briskly (from 100-120 steps per minute) will result in swinging your arms. The effect of this natural movement is to strengthen the muscles in your upper body and therefore all the muscles in your back. When practised regularly at a brisk pace, fitness walking will provide a natural defence against back pain.
Make the leap and strengthen your muscles naturally - you will see the benefits!