If you’re starting to notice your balance when you walk, and perhaps feel unsteady on occasions, then you’ll know that this can affect your enjoyment of walking.
As a specialist exercise instructor, I’ve helped hundreds of people to feel steadier on their feet and more confident with their walking.
I know how vital walking well is, and that’s why I’ve written this series of articles for Sixty and Me readers.
Walking well is essential for many reasons. But your reasons might be different from someone else’s.
Perhaps you want to be steadier on your feet so you feel happier walking to go shopping and run errands. It could be that you want to go for walks with your friends and be able to concentrate on the company and the conversation, not worrying about where you’re stepping and how you’re feeling the whole time.
Walking well could mean visiting cultural sites or travelling to foreign cities where you will be able to enjoy your surroundings and spend your time looking up at what’s around you.
Maybe you’ve had a fall or are worried about falling. Anxiety about falling can be overwhelming and, unfortunately, make us more likely to fall.
Most of us don’t stop to think about how we walk. We learnt to walk 50, 60, or more years ago and have carried on doing so without giving it a second thought.
It might seem silly, even frustrating, to have to think about how we walk. However, I promise you it’s worth it!
Walking well means thinking about our posture and our overall walking technique. Taking some time to think about how we walk will make a big difference for many years to come.
Often, when we start to feel more cautious about our walking, we begin to take smaller steps. If you haven’t noticed this with yourself, look around and see if you notice a difference when other people walk.
Taking smaller steps doesn’t necessarily help us walk better (or more safely). In fact, it can affect how we place our feet on the ground (more on this in my next article) and make us more likely to trip and fall.
Watch this demonstration video to learn about how taking longer strides can help us walk more confidently. Stand up and practice along if you can, I hope you’ll notice the difference!
(If you are going to practice with me, please make sure you have a clear space to move, with no trip hazards like rugs or trailing wires on the floor).
This is the fourth in a series of Walking Well articles I’ve written for Sixty and Me. All the articles have demonstration videos that you can follow along to, which will help you practice these tips.
The magic will happen when you fit all these elements of walking well together. So take a few minutes to look at these other articles and videos.
If you’re concerned about your walking posture, read more about what is good walking posture, how it helps us walk well, and what we should think about when walking.
Looking ahead may sound scary, but it is crucial if you want to walk well. If you find yourself looking down at the ground a lot when you walk, this article and video are for you!
Do you think of walking as something your legs do? Or is it a full-body activity? It is indeed a full-body activity, which means that our arms are involved in walking well. Look at this article and video to learn about why swinging your arms can help you feel more confident when you walk.
As well as paying attention to our posture and walking technique, doing exercises to improve our strength, balance, and posture will help us walk better.
If you want to improve your balance, it’s good to do some balance exercises most days (rather than a long session once a week). It doesn’t need to be a lot. Just a few minutes a day (at home) is all it takes. You don’t even need any equipment.
If you want some easy-to-follow balance exercises to do at home, this FREE, 4-week Balance Boost video series could be right for you.
If you know you want to do regular exercise to feel stronger, move more easily, have better balance and improve your posture, look at the Vida Wellness online exercise studio. Our videos are clear and easy to follow, and most of our routines are 10-15 minutes long, so you can easily fit them into your day.
How does it feel when you walk? Have you tried taking longer strides, and does this help you? How has your gait changed with age? Please share your thoughts and observations below.