Ah, the wonders of hitting the pavement for a rejuvenating, brisk walk. If you’re a daily walker, then you know there’s nothing quite like heading to your favorite trail, beach, or park to get in some healthy strides. You may catch up with a walking budding, recruit your pup to come along with, or walk solo with a solid playlist on deck. Whatever the case may be, if you’re not stretching before your cardio session, your routine needs a little bit of tweaking. We did the hard work for you and have the best stretches for walkers to do every day before hitting the road.
Let’s get real: Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise. It’s low-impact, and you can do it almost anywhere for long distances. If you’re trying to lose fat, then you especially need to get in your daily steps, as walking is stellar at burning calories. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should perform 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week. Brisk walking for 30 minutes, five days a week, is the perfect choice to meet this requirement.
Performing a series of stretches before walks is necessary. Stretching will help you loosen up tight muscles and can make your walk even more productive. The goal is to open up your leg muscles and your chest muscles to improve your posture.
According to WebMD, stretching is especially crucial as you grow older, as it keeps your body flexible. In general, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends stretching out your main muscle groups a minimum of two times every week for 1 minute per exercise.
Now, let’s get into five stretches for walkers to do daily. Keep reading to learn about them, and next up, check out What a Daily Walking Habit Does to Your Body After 50, Says Science.
This first stretch begins in a half-kneeling position as you bring one leg forward and one leg behind you. Keep your chest tall and your core tight as you lean forward—as if you’re doing a lunge—until you get a solid stretch in your hip flexor. Rock forward and back, slowly increasing the range of motion. Switch sides once you get a good stretch in. Do this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.
For single-leg deadlift reach, stand tall with your arms vertically above your head and one knee “elevated” in front of you as if you’re walking up an invisible stair. Then, slowly lean your body forward as if to touch the ground with your fingers. As you do so, extend your elevated leg behind you. Keep your back straight during this motion. Get a solid hamstring stretch at the bottom, then slowly come back to the starting position, squeezing your glute to finish. Perform five reps on one side before switching to the other.
For this stretch, position yourself in the downward dog pose with one foot crossed over the other. Drop your heel to stretch your calf, perform a calf raise, and drop your heel once again to increase the range of motion. Once you have your heel to the ground, switch legs. Do five reps on each leg.
Alternating pigeon pose will have you starting off on the floor, rolling your left leg underneath you, and straightening your right leg back. Get a solid stretch in your glute and hip, hold the position for a bit as the muscles release, then switch to your other leg, and repeat. Do five reps on each leg.
Last but not least, gear up for the pec stretch. Position your arm and elbow at 90 degrees against a doorway or a stable beam. Keep your core tight and your shoulder blade pulled back as you turn your body away. You should feel a solid chest stretch. Hold the position, then slowly increase the range of motion as your pec relaxes. Once you’ve held the stretch for the prescribed time, switch sides. Do this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds on each side.
Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.