Walking Fundamentals: Transforming Your Fitness Routine - Rancho La Puerta
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Walking Fundamentals: Transforming Your Fitness Routine

Welcome to the Walking Fundamentals class at Rancho La Puerta, a transformative program designed to help you become a true walker. This class, with Guest Instructor Conni, focuses on mastering the art of walking to enhance fitness and overall well-being.  She gave me a few take aways to enhance my own walking as exercise and mobility.

Starting the Class: No Stretching Required

Many people seek different fitness methods, including walking, but often struggle to elevate their heart rate effectively. To address this, we teach participants the correct arm swing technique to help them move faster and increase their heart rate naturally. Proper arm swing helps drive your body forward, making your stride more powerful and efficient.

The Importance of Consistency and Frequency

As an avid walker, Conni emphasizes the importance of frequency, duration, and intensity in a walking routine. She walks every day, with an average of one to two hours, but even on busy days, gets outside for at least 15 minutes. Walking outdoors offers a unique experience, connecting us with our surroundings and enhancing our mental well-being. Recent neuroscience research shows that walking in nature stimulates rapid eye movement, which can inhibit the amygdala, reducing anxiety and fear.

Starting a Walking Practice

For those looking to incorporate walking into their fitness routine, consistency is key she says. A good walking program focuses on regular practice and the correct arm swing. When teaching, she notices that many don’t walk fast enough to bend their arms. Bending the arms shortens the stride and engages the shoulder extensors, helping to drive the body forward.

Elevating Heart Rate

While aiming for 10,000 steps a day is beneficial, it’s crucial to ensure some of those steps elevate your heart rate. Not every step needs to be intense, but incorporating higher-intensity walking sessions into your routine can significantly improve fitness. For those unsure how to calculate their target heart rate, online resources like the American Heart Association offer simple charts to determine your ideal range.

Observing Walking Technique

When observing walking technique, pay attention to what Conni calls the rear-wheel drive aspect of walking. Notice the arm swing behind the body and the extension of the back leg. This rearward motion is crucial for propelling the body forward efficiently.

Choosing the Right Walking Shoes

Comfort is the most important factor when selecting walking shoes. Avoid zero-heel shoes if you emphasize heel strikes during walking. She’s a fan of Hoka trail runners for their tread and flexibility, which support a natural push-off motion. It’s also essential to have ample room in the toe box to allow the foot to spread naturally. Many people benefit from adding insoles for extra support and comfort.

Why Rancho La Puerta is Ideal for Walking

The natural beauty and diverse environment of Rancho La Puerta enhance the walking experience. From the sounds of birds to the sight of various flora and fauna, walking here connects you with nature in a unique way. With over 40 miles of hiking trails there’s plenty of room to explore.

Join Us

Whether you’re a seasoned walker or just starting, our daily guided morning hikes are a great way to get the arms swinging and legs moving for a healthy walking stride.

Consulting with a Doctor

Before starting a rigorous walking routine or making significant changes to your fitness program, consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have existing health conditions.

For further information on calculating your target heart rate and more, check out this simple heart rate chart from the American Heart Association.

Sudimac, S., Sale, V. and Kühn, S. (2022) “How nature nurtures: Amygdala activity decreases as the result of a one-hour walk in nature”, Molecular Psychiatrydoi10.1038/s41380-022-01720-6https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-022-01720-6