Each day we put one foot in front of the other. Step by step we cover different distances on foot, without spending a minute to think about the process. Since we are so used to walking forwards, it is tough to suddenly start trying to walk backwards…
Why should we walk backwards?
It may sound strange or silly at first, but if you take a closer look at the technique, you will see that it has tons of benefits for your physical and mental health:
- sharpens the senses and mental clarity
- improves coordination
- boosts body consciousness
- adds variety to your training
- strengthens less used leg muscles
- decreases lower back pain
- puts less strain on the knees
- speeds up the body’s metabolism
- increases energy level
- improves sleep
- strengthens the heart
In order to reap all the benefits, you should walk backwards three to four times per week for 10 to 15 minutes.
Since we practice “normal walking” every day without thinking about it, the body and the brain are forced to adapt to new, unfamiliar demands when you start walking in reverse.
In China walking backwards is already becoming a part of everyday life:
Running backwards for advanced
After you have practiced walking backwards extensively and feel comfortable with it, you can even move on to running backwards. The School of Healthcare Sciences in Cardiff researched the benefits this has for the body. The study discovered that pain in the front of the knee can be reduced by running backwards.(1) Another study, conducted by the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, showed that a combination of running forwards and backwards can improve cardiorespiratory fitness.(2)
How it works:
Before you run backwards, you should make sure to practice walking backwards a lot. The best way to do this is on a treadmill, because you have railings to hold onto. Start slowly and work up to a fast walk.
When you have reached a higher speed on the treadmill, you can carefully try jogging backwards. This is especially good if you struggle with knee pain, because this technique – as mentioned above – reduces the strain on your knees.
Concentrate on every step – your brain has to get used to the new way of moving. Safety is the top priority.
WHEN it comes to body image and self-acceptance most of us have parts of our bodies that we don’t like, or days when we lack a little confidence.
Although such feelings now and then are completely normal, being too hard on ourselves long-term can lead to other more serious issues such as depression and eating disorders. So how can we improve our attitudes about our bodies and learn to love ourselves the way we are?
Dr Elizabeth McIngvale from Baylor College of Medicine, US, gives her tips on how to achieve a healthy attitude to our bodies and positive self-image.
Be wary of social media
Social media can be a contributing factor to how we see our bodies says Dr McIngvale, but it is important to try to avoid comparing ourselves, especially to unrealistic images.
“Many times we compare ourselves to images that are airbrushed and filtered, which is not where we should be placing our importance or our significance,” she says. “Often when people go on trips, for example to the beach, one might get caught up looking at images on social media and think that is what they are supposed to look like in a swimsuit, and they forget the real importance of the trip, which is to spend time with the people they care about.”
Work out for health
Dr McIngvale recommends doing activities that you enjoy to feel healthier and spend time with friends, rather than to specifically change your body, adding, “Health is not synonymous with looks, we must remember that.”
A recent study also suggests that working out can boost body confidence, finding that just one 30-minute workout caused women to feel stronger, slimmer, and better about their body, even though there were no visible physical changes, compared to an activity which involved sitting and relaxing.
Use positive language
Changing your language from negative to positive can also help change your mindset. McIngvale recommends practising positive self-talk, such as reminding yourself that you are worthy, you are beautiful.
“It is important to remind yourself of your worth and of the things that you love about yourself.”
Focus on longer lasting goals
Body image can change every day says Dr McIngvale, and even if we reach our ideal body goals we are still are not guaranteed to be completely satisfied with how we look. Because of this she says our focus should be on long-term health and wellness and who we are as a person, not body image.
“Remember to think about your attributes that make you feel good and that are rooted in substance,” McIngvale said. “You should always be keeping yourself motivated about the traits that you love most about yourself and are most proud of about yourself. Often these qualities have nothing to do with looks but instead are focused on principles important to you and the way you define who you are and what you do.” – AFP Relaxnews
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