Walk Softly and Carry Big Sticks

Walking is one of the best, easiest, most accessible and most economical way to keep moving. If you don’t already have a walking program, it is time to consider staring one. Nothing beats a good walking program or an exhilarating hike to keep us fit and healthy in our body, mind, spirit, and soul. Here is a simple and somewhat surprising tip to keep you moving and get the best results possible.

Invest in a set of walking sticks. No, I’m not kidding. I used to think that walking sticks (or hiking poles) were a form of cheating. I was wrong. Here are just a few of the many benefits:

  • Walking sticks (or hiking poles) improves your posture by putting you in a more upright position with your chest lifted, your shoulders back, and your torso balanced over your hips. Not only does this help your posture, it takes a lot of unnecessary pressure off of your knees, reducing the possibility of pain, stiffness, and injuries.
  • Walking sticks simulate a “normal” gait pattern, which means that your arms and legs are moving in opposition. This results in a gentle counter-rotation of your chest and pelvis, which is essential for a strong, flexible, and healthy spine.
  • Walking sticks give you an upper body as well as a lower body workout. If you don’t believe me, give it a try and get back to me. You might be surprised.
  • Since the poles help put you in better postural alignment, the forces of gravity are able to go through your legs in a more harmonious way, working the backs of your legs as well as the front. You work your gluts (butt muscles), as well as your hamstrings, resulting in stronger legs, a more shapely derriere, and significantly less stress and strain on your knees at the same time.
  • As an added bonus, because you are in an upright position, your abdominal muscles automatically start to engage, so you are strengthening your core with every step.
  • Poles help improve your balance. Not because you are depending on them to maintain your balance, but because of the alignment of your upright posture, which places your center of gravity over your base of support, allowing you to be more sure-footed. Walking on uneven surfaces is a fantastic way to train your balance, and a vital component in keeping you fit and healthy.
  • This final tip comes from my many years of martial arts training. Having two big sticks in your hands can provide a handy dandy makeshift weapon when you’re walking in the woods (or in the park). You never know when you might run into an unexpected four-legged (or two-legged) threat.