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Changing Your Stride

Frequently when I ask my patients about their exercise patterns for the week, the answer comes back “I walked several times”.  Walking does not burn off as many calories as more aggressive exercise such as running, biking, elliptical machines etc but walking is still an activity that helps with our weight loss efforts.  Due to orthopedic issues, age and/or other medical situations, walking is perhaps the only form of exercise that a person may engage in.

A recent study came out demonstrating that changing the length of your stride while walking increases caloric burn-off more than walking with the same stride the entire walk.  Most people, including me, will walk at a certain stride length and not vary this.  It is sort of awkward to walk at longer strides, than smaller ones, then revert back to the original stride length.

When walking on an uneven trail at a park than involves walking up and down some inclines, we are sort of forced to change stride length.  However, on a street or other flat surface, we would need to consciously change our stride length.

Other interventions to our walking that would increase caloric burn-off would be:

  • Increase the walking pace
  • Walk up inclines
  • Do “interval” walking, i.e. walk at a certain pace for a period of time, then increase the pace, then back to the original pace etc.  Interval type exercises do burn off more calories than non-interval during the same exercise

An effective long-term weight control approach usually includes an exercise component.  If walking is your thing, try to change pace, change stride length and as you shed weight, it will also be possible to walk faster.

And if you can walk on sunshine, that is also a positive endeavor.

Enjoy Katrina and the Waves’ 1983 “Walking On Sunshine”.

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