Transform your walk into a workout

We believe that Guru Nanak was the ‘greatest hitch-hiker.’ Let us also shine some light on ‘Walking’



By Sohan Singh (England) | AWAT

Some scholars say that Guru Nanak was the ‘greatest hitch-hiker.’  We believe that Guru Nanak was the greatest Walker because during Guru Nanak’s time you couldn’t point your thumb to the left or the right and expect a lift.

Anyway, the fact remains that Guru Nanak travelled half of the world mostly on foot. So let us also shine some light on ‘Walking.’

Rhythmic exercises like walking, cycling and swimming are less punishing to the joints and cause fewer sports-related injuries.

Besides improving health and well-being, walking is a great way of socialising and meeting new people. Some people find themselves very near to nature when they walk near a river, the sea and trees, or on a hill.

A recent study from the University of Cambridge found that a brisk 20-minute walk daily can reduce an individual’s risk of death by 25 percent, and a major study from the Mayo Clinic demonstrated that walking from just half an hour a day can dramatically reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, depression and Type 2 diabetes. (The Daily Telegraph, UK, 4 January 2017)

Practically all the studies suggest that our conventional way walking is not effective – it is too easy to be a workout. The problem is that most of us walk with what can be described as a ‘passive foot,’ striking the ground as one unit, whereas the structure of the foot is like that of the hand.

The larger the muscle mass you involve in each stride, the greater the benefit. The whole foot should be worked through. To get the technique right, let us have a look at three essential body parts that need to be fully engaged when walking: feet, neck and shoulders, and arms.


Walk smartly, rolling your foot from heel to toe. Some walking experts explain this technique thus:

Imagine the foot is a piece of Velcro and you are peeling it off from the heel forwards. You then move from the arch of the foot to the toes and gently push off from your toes.

If we stop using ‘passive foot’ strike and instead achieve ‘an active foot’, the movement would help to tone our thighs and encourages correct alignment.

Neck and shoulders

The head weighs about 12 lbs or 5 kg in its correct anatomical position, but because most of us sit in front of computer screens for long hours, our heads jut forward. The resulting strain causes the muscles of the shoulders and back to contract to hold the head in position.

To correct this increase the space between the shoulders and the ears and:

  • Look up and forward and not at the ground when walking.
  • Your neck, shoulders and back are relaxed and not stiffly uptight. You combat poor posture, especially slumped shoulders and rounded back.
  • Your stomach muscles are slightly tightened.


  • Swing your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows or – think of old clocks and move the arms like flowing pendulums as you walk. Posture-wise, this opens up the shoulders, and the mobility in the upper back is increased.
  • Do not clench your fists as this limits correct shoulder positioning

Warm up and Cool down

Walk slowly for five to ten minutes to warm up and prepare your body for exercise or, you may wish to ‘warm up’ with physical activities.

The same rule applies to ‘cool down.’ At the end of the walk, walk slowly for 5-10 minutes to help your muscles to cool down, or perform ‘cooling down’ exercises.

[The writer is also a member of AWAT Editorial Board. The original article can be found here]


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