Voices Anirban Ganguly Anand Neelakantan Sheila Kumar Neil McCallum Gautam Chintamani Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev MAGAZINE Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI january 31 2021 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Best Foot Forward Walking has become India’s top activity with people turning out in large numbers to seek the best path to physical and psychological wellbeing. Getting fit will never be the same again. The Technique Prescription Keep your chin parallel to the ground Hold your head high Look forward, not at the ground Keep your back straight, not arched, forward or backward Move your shoulders naturally Swing your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows Gently tighten your stomach muscles Walk smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe Source: Mayoclinic.org By V Kumara Swamy I f the Smithsonian is to be believed, the first human ancestor began to walk on two legs around 1.89 million years ago. Then the great migration began between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago with people walking all the way from Africa to Asia and Europe. Walking has been a highly rated activity since then; the means of the ultimate survival of man. Now, in parks, forests, trekking trails and city sidewalks, the great mass of humankind is constantly on their feet—to the market, to work, to school or college, to play golf, to watch birds and animals, to climb absurd heights, to root around unknown places and lost cities. Or simply, to walk. Being a conscious walker is the greatest health activity in the world, an industry in itself with accessories, videos, medical programmes and even trainers. In India, where walking is a normal activity, the pandemic took legging it to new levels. Walking is no longer a walk in the park. It is an addiction that has lasted 25 years for Delhi-based Ram Srivastava and his wife Madhu, both in their 60s. Their day is incomplete without a round trip of brisk-walking from their house in Mayur Vihar Extension to the farthest end of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary—a trip that adds up to a little over six km. On some days, they like to take two rounds of a large park next to the sanctuary . “That makes it around eight km total,” says Srivastava, who likes wearing a body-hugging T-shirt and a golfer’s cap whenever he steps out. The man who had undergone heart surgery and has suffered from a few other ailments in the last few years says that his body remains fit, thanks to his daily walks. His routine was interrupted by the pandemic. But the couple made it a point to clock the distance walking around their apartment block or on their terrace. Their daughter who lives in America tracks their daily step-count online on the fitness band she gifted them a few years back. “If you ever find a day when I am in a bad mood, you can be sure that I didn’t go for my walk,” he laughs as his wife nods assent. More than 2,000 km south of Delhi, in Bengaluru, RN Bhaskar Reddy , 46, discovered the benefits of brisk-walking after his yoga classes came to an abrupt end in March 2020. Weighing more than 100 kilos, he had joined the yoga classes a few weeks before, after he was diabetic. One of his yoga mates suggested that he could take to briskwalking as an alternative. “I’ve lost more than 15 kilos in the last six months and am feeling fitter than ever before,” says Reddy a businessman, who stays on the , outskirts of Bengaluru in his own farm. He would now like to add to his walking repertoire and increase the intensity . Immersive “walking around” videos are getting millions of views on YouTube as people crave pre-Covid normalcy and get off the couch. As fitness becomes a holistic researchbased industry walking has moved to , broader horizons. There is power walking that involves a fast pace, short of jogging with rigorous arm swings to build cardiovascular strength. There are Chi walks that emphasise postures that reinforce core muscles. Nordic walking involves poles to engage the upper body to propel you forward, like walking on ice in Nordic lands—a full body and core workout. Farmer’s Carry exercise is done using anything heavy from a dumb bell to a suitcase. Using your body as a machine is a new trend, says Rishikesh Kumar, CEO and founder, Xtraliving. Gaits Galore According to Shalini Bhargava, fitness expert and director at JG’s Fitness Centre, Mumbai, people like Reddy can adopt new concepts to walking by adding power, Chi or Nordic walking methods, and add intensity and torch the calories. “Your body tends to transform only when it notices a fluctuation in its standard routine. It becomes familiar with the amount and intensity of workouts on a day-to-day basis. In order to trigger your body to make substantial changes, it is advisable to perform above your baseline,” Bhargava says. You get the idea. Walking is not just moving your feet. There are many kinds of it and have some rules. Nutritionist and fitness expert Erin Palinski-Wade sums up the procedure: First, align your posture. Chi walking is based on the T’ai Chi practice of needle and cotton; the needle is the thin straight line of strength that runs vertically up the spine. Focus energy on your centre and let go of the tension in your arms and legs. Keep your spine long, tall and straight. Suck in your stomach. Don’t arch your back, keep your chin parallel to the ground, and fix your eyes 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. Now, engage your core. Your core muscles hold your spine erect and allow the balance to operate your legs. First your feet must be apart at hip width and parallel to each other. Relax your feet and make your knees soft. Lengthen your spine by imagining your head is being pulled up gently by a thread all the way up to the sky Level your pelvis . along the natural contour of your spine, not tilting forward not backward. If you do not know which pelvic muscles to use to get into position, just laugh or cough. Never walk with your head down, it strains your upper body and neck. Release the stress in your body by shrugging your shoulders to relax them. Get into physical balance. Centre your body weight over your leading foot with the movement coming from your centre, with the core muscles doing the heavy lifting, not your feet and legs. With each step, your arm must move forward or backward; never diagonally Keep elbows . close to your torso, stopping your forward hand at the centre point of your body With each forward step, your hand . must not go higher than your breastbone. Now start to move forward with posture straight, core engaged, upper body balanced while taking the initial step forward first with your heel. Then roll the step from heel to toe. Pushing off the ground with your toes. Bring your back leg forward. Bringing your heel down again. All the while, keep a destination in mind. Moving forward is not just a physical aspect of walking but making life choices, whether to walk daily or have the right kind of food. Arm motion is crucial to walking right. Bend your elbows 90 degrees, partially close your hands without clenching. The pandemic saw a huge boost in YouTube exercises at home. Walking at home videos threw up new stars while stepping up visibility and credibility of existing walking video gurus like Leslie Sansone. Get Healthy U TV’s Indoor Walking for Beginners workout, Fat Burning Fast Paced Walk by Lucy Wyndham, 10,000 Indoor Step Challenge by Joanna Soh are the top walking gurus of the digital world. holistic exercise “I’ve lived in India for the past 16 years, and have never seen so many people having taken to walking as an essential activity asserts Vesna ,” Pericevic Jacob, a Delhi-based holistic fitness guru. She is of the opinion that walking has been underestimated because it is too “normal” an activity . “Not any longer. The improvement in the environment due to the lockdown and the closure of gyms was a blessing. People have discovered the joys of walking, which is a holistic exercise,” says Jacob. Many don’t consider walking an exercise since we do it every day without thinking of it as being ‘good for health’. Turn to page 2 marching to good health Physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you... ✥ Maintain a healthy weight ✥ Prevent or manage conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes An hour of wal k can burn upwards of 3 calories, depend00 on your weight and your pace ing ✥ Strengthen your bones and muscles ✥ Lift your mood ✥ Improve your balance and coordination utes a day, At least 30 min can reduce the five days a week r coronary heart risk fo t 19% disease by abou Walking increases oxygen flow through the body. It also helps raise the levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine—the hormones that help elevate energy levels 5 to 6 miles a week could prevent arthritis According to a study, those who walked at a moderate pace for 30 to 45 minutes a day had 43% fewer sick days and fewer upper respiratory tract infections overall Sources: Healthline.com, livestrong.com
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