When we encourage people to be healthy well rounded individuals, we believe we need to be coming at it from multiple angles. Our bodies need to move and be challenged in more ways than one so we can prepare for dynamic challenges that life sends our way. As we evaluate clients’ typical exercise routine we find that most people are really good at some areas of fitness but could use some guidance on how to incorporate others.
Over the past year as home exercise programs have become the new normal, this issue is even more apparent. Walking in particular is an activity that people gravitate to because it’s free, it’s easy to do and you can do it anywhere. While we love that people are out being active, walking as your only form of exercise can leave your workout routine with gaps that need to be filled. When you look at the activity of walking is it really good for challenging your cardiovascular and muscle endurance but it doesn’t challenge muscle strength.
Strength is the ability for your body to withstand great amounts of pressure and force. As we get older, our muscles begin to lose strength at a greater rate than in the past. The need to add strength training into your life increases. In order for a muscle to gain strength, you must load it with forces greater than itself. We do this by using things like weights, bands or putting our body weight through greater ranges of motion. This is why walking is not considered a strengthening exercise as we are only loading using our body weight and gravity in a small range of motion.
The goal today is to give you some ideas of how to incorporate strengthening exercises that are just as free and easy as walking so you can start filling those gaps in your exercise routine!
Here are 4 different movements that you can easily do at home or a local park to start addressing strength in your legs.
Eccentric Single Leg Squats
You decide how easy or hard this exercise is for you. Start with a higher surface to squat down to and as you get more confident make that surface lower and lower.
Side Plank and with hip abduction
Similar to the eccentric single leg squats you can choose how difficult to make this exercise by the height of the surface you rest your hand on, it could be a low bench or something that is higher with more support like a wall.
A simple yet so underrated exercise, calf muscles play a huge role in walking so the better you can beef them up the faster and more efficient your walking will be.
What is great about this exercise is that it can be done pretty much anywhere and you can challenge yourself in so many ways. You change the height, you can speed up your pace, you can even add weight. Start off simple with a height you can perform comfortably and as you get the hang of it, add in more variables.
To implement this program we suggest strengthening exercises need to be done at least 2 times per week. Performing 2-3 sets of 10-15 of the following is a great place to start.
To achieve well rounded fitness we need to make sure that we are shooting at all of the targets and if we don’t the ramifications are what lead to pain and dysfunction. This means that if you are walking for exercise, that’s great, keep it up! But don’t neglect your strengthening that cannot be truly addressed with walking alone. Doing that will significantly decrease your risk of injury of pain and keep you walking for a long time!