It’s a good idea to change up your workouts to gain maximum benefits. If you do exactly the same workout in exactly the same way each time your body adapts to it and you no longer get the benefits from it you did when you first began. That’s why it’s important to change things up periodically. In fact, as I share in Today is Still the Day, Dr. Timothy Miller, sports medicine specialist advises: “Don’t do the same workout every day. Add something that makes your body work differently.”
You can do that any number of ways – change the type of exercise (choose a sport, alternate cardio with strength training, try HIIT, Zumba, kettlebells, kickboxing), vary the intensity, number of repetitions. But here is something you can include that can change things up and provides many other health benefits that you may not have ever considered: include walking backwards!
It’s actually nothing new. It is also called retro walking and originated in Ancient China as a health strategy. Today people use it to build muscle, improve sports performance and promote balance. Recent research also shows walking backwards sharpens your thinking skills, boosts memory and enhances cognitive control.
When you walk backwards, it puts less strain and requires less range of motion from your knee joints, making it ideal for people who have knee problems or injuries. Also, because walking backwards eliminates the typical heel-strike to the ground since the toe contacts the ground first, it can lead to changes in pelvis alignment that help open up the facet joints in your spine. This could potentially alleviate pressure that may cause low back pain in some people. You are also working out your quadriceps and calves, which typically take a backseat to your hamstrings and glutes, during regular forward walking. You also burn more calories since it takes close to 30% more energy than moving forward at the same pace.
You can try backward walking on a treadmill (just start slowly to avoid tripping or falling) or use a backward motion when using an elliptical machine. What I do is this: I usually do 4 or 5 sets of high knees throughout the day. Sometimes I do them in a stationary position and often I will just move 5 or 7 steps forward and then 5 to 7 steps backward. It gives me some backward walking in a safe environment and changes up my usual routine.
How do you change up your fitness routine to get the biggest benefit?
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