Walk Backward

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I recently shared about the book 52 Ways to Walk. You can check out a review of the book HERE.

Although I’m excited to try out all 52 ways of walking, as suggested in the book, I found myself derailed.

I initially selected, randomly, a walk with others activity. And then the weather turned incredibly hot with temps at or above 100 degrees daily. Excuses, excuses.

Eventually I found a group to walk with and I’ll enjoy that shared activity with them soon. For my first walk from the book, I chose this one: #49 Walk Backward.

And yes…it is exactly what it sounds like!

Walk Backward title meme

Why Walk Backward?

There’s a fun story behind this walking activity.

In 1931 a Texan named Plennie Wingo decided to walk backward around the world. After practicing for six months, Wingo set out from Santa Monica, California with a stout walking stick for balance and tiny mirrors attached to his glasses so that he could see behind him.

Wingo walked backward across the US to Boston, Massachusetts. He sailed from Boston to Germany and continued his backward walk. Although he was jailed in Turkey, Wingo eventually completed a walk of 7,000 miles…all in reverse. He gained recognition as the Guiness record holder for “greatest extent of reverse pedestrianism” and lived to the amazing age of 98. Wingo attributed his good health to regularly walking backward.

The Health Benefits of Walking Backward

It seems that Wingo discovered a truth.

According to recent studies, the best way to improve walking forward is to occasionally walk in reverse. Doing so strengthens the lower body while improving balance and stability.

Plus when we walk backward without using our eyes to see ahead, we learn to rely on something called proprioception, a system of neurons embedded in our joints, muscles and limbs that work with our senses to communicate with our central nervous system and brain.

Researchers speculate that walking backward requires unfamiliar, more complex movements, enhancing proprioception abilities along with balance and perception.

Walking in reverse demands more physically as well as we start on the toes and roll to the heel. (Wingo went through 13 pairs of shoes on his historical walk.) We engage the shin muscles and glutes differently and lengthen out hamstrings.

Backward walking aligns the spine and pelvis, reduces lower back pain, strengthens knee joints and improves stride and gait.

Walk Backward view behind
Walk Backward – my view behind me as I walked

Tips for Walking Backward

Engaging in this activity requires some care. Wingo sprained one ankle and broke the other and he caused a car accident.

For safety, walk in a familiar area that is level and without obstacles. Ask a friend or family member to join you, walking forward and serving as a guide.

Focus on each step, walking slowly and pushing off the toe then rolling to the heel. Let arms swing naturally and keep back straight and head centered.

Keep the walk short if this is your first time walking backward. If you enjoy this activity build up to longer backward walks.

My Experience Walking Backward

I chose my neighborhood for this backward walk. Greg accompanied me as my guide and to offer an arm if I felt unsteady. My neighborhood contains fairly new sidewalks, making a smooth, level surface to walk upon.

Due to the heat, even in the morning hours, we kept the distance short and I didn’t walk backward the whole way. After climbing a hill part way, I turned around and walked in reverse for a while. And then I returned to normal walking for a distance before reversing again.

Immediately I noticed a difference in my lower back and legs. I could feel muscles working in ways I don’t notice when walking normally. Although the distance was just under a mile, I later experienced a bit of soreness in my left leg and foot from the unaccustomed gait. The discomfort quickly disappeared.

Overall, it was a fun and unique experience. And not one person looked at me strangely…well maybe Greg did…and no one ran off the road while driving by due to the unusual sight of a woman walking backward!

To receive the most benefits, I intend to include walking backward as a regular activity.

Walk Backward cindy
Me on number 49 walk backward.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

Is walking an important form of exercise and relaxation for you? Then you would enjoy this book as well. The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. And it inspires me to create other interesting walks as well.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

 

52 Ways to Walk book

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

52 Ways to Walk

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Greg recently brought home a book from our local library, because he thought it might interest me. And does it ever interest me!

The book, 52 Ways to Walk by Annabel Streets, carries the subtitle “The surprising science of walking for wellness and joy, one week at a time.” I appreciate the “wellness and joy” aspects of the book. And, I absolutely love the format. My imagination immediately fired up as I read through the book.

I’m excited to put this book into practice. And I’m equally excited to share the book with you.

52 Ways to Walk title meme

Meet the Author, Annabel Streets

Annabel grew up in a carless family. Her father never learned to drive and her mother failed her driving test seven times. The family lived in remote places without access to public transportation, so if they needed something, they walked to obtain it.

As a young adult, Annabel bought her first car and enjoyed driving it around her little town. She also accepted a desk job. Soon she noticed changes in her body and wellness level.

Her body grew rounder, softer, achier, stiffer and more stooped. And Annabel felt more anxious, unsettled and discontent. She chose to reconnect with the simple joys of walking, to reclaim her health and wellbeing.

As she returned to walking frequently, she made two rules for herself: walk instead of using the car, unless absolutely necessary and convert as many sedentary activities as possible into walking activities.

52 Ways to Walk was born out of Annabel’s reconnection with walking and the desire to encourage others to rethink walking and reclaim it from their molecular memories.

52 Ways to Walk cold
52 Ways to Walk – Week 1 Walk in the Cold

How to Use the Book

Each chapter in the book is an opportunity to discover a new way of walking. The chapters roughly coincide with annual weather conditions, colder at the beginning and end of the year, and some universally recognized events.

However, the chapters and modes of walking can also be accessed randomly, choosing a chapter here and the next week, flipping to another section of the book.

To best use the book, whether chronologically or randomly, first skim through the chapters and prepare for the variety of walks. During cold or rainy weather, have coats, scarves, umbrellas and proper footwear available. Download map apps and online sites for walking in new areas.

Walking shoes and boots should fit properly. Purchase new ones if they don’t. Quick drying, breathable socks are a must as well. A stout walking stick is helpful for walking in nature. And keep a backpack ready to go with bandaids, snacks, water, sunscreen, wipes, antiseptic, insect repellent and pain relievers.

Pick a week to start, choose your first walk and head out the door!

52 Ways to Walk lost
52 Ways to Walk – Week 41 Walk to Get Lost

Examples from 52 Ways to Walk

Each short chapter includes the type of walk to go on, the benefits from the activity and the science to back the reasoning. At the end of each chapter is a TIPS section with ways to get the most from the walk.

Here is a sampling of walks found in the book.

Walk, Smile, Greet, Repeat

Walking allows us to experience chance encounters with others. Greeting the people we meet with a smile while walking in a neighborhood makes us feel better and return home happier.

Walk in the Rain

Rather than using a rainy day as an excuse to stay home, this week’s activity encourages us to walk in the rain and reconnect with the elements. The falling rain, increased moisture and persistent pounding of raindrops causes specific compounds to be released and combined with the air we breathe. Inhaling those compounds produces a profound sense of well being in the body.

52 Ways to Walk rain
52 Ways to Walk – Week 12 Walk in the Rain

Take a Silent Stroll

A decade ago, scientists discovered that loud noises stopped new neurons from forming in the brain, in the regions linked to memory and learning. Two hours of silence every day produced new neurons. Walking in a quiet place allows the body to reset and the brain to create new neurons.

Amble Amid Trees

in the 1960s biologists realized that the bluish haze often seen over landscapes is a vast cloud of molecules and gases produced by trees and plants. Those emissions benefit earth’s atmosphere. Now we are discovering that they deliver positive benefits to us as well, when we walk in the woods. Health benefits include reduced risks for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, early death, high blood pressure and stress.

52 Ways to Walk woods
52 Ways to Walk – Week 19 Amble Amid Trees

Walk with Your Nose

Our sense of smell is the most primitive of the senses. To fully activate that sense and awaken the other senses, walk in an area rich in aromatic plant life. Walk slowly, occasionally closing the eyes and placing hands over the ears and be guided by the nose.

Follow a River

Landscapes with running water have a restorative effect on the mood of the walker. The mind unwinds and the brain relaxes, helping us to feel tranquil and energized at the same time. Tote along lightweight binoculars for watching wildlife along the river and wear sunglasses to protect eyes from glare off of the water.

52 Ways to Walk river
52 Ways to Walk – Week 17 Follow a River

How I Intend to Use the Book

Since the copy I am currently reading came from the library, I’m ordering my own copy from Amazon.

I love the easy to use format and the mix of tips, stories, science and fun in each chapter. Walking as an exercise is important to me. The health benefits are many plus it is a recommended activity for the Blue Zones lifestyle.

What I appreciate also about the book is the ability to keep the walks interesting by playing a random game. One of the primary reasons people don’t continue a walking practice is boredom. And I get it. Walking the same route the same way becomes more of a mindless activity. I love that 52 Ways to Walk offers a fresh walking activity every week.

My intention is to write out each week’s walk on a slip of paper, fold those 52 slips up and drop them into a container. Each week I’ll draw out a different walk to experience. If the walk doesn’t match the weather or requires something I’m not able to do that week, then I’ll return that slip to the container and draw out another one. This is a form of creative play that I enjoy immensely.

52 Ways to Walk dogs
52 Ways to Walk – Week 18 Walk with a Dog

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

Is walking an important form of exercise and relaxation for you? Then you would enjoy this book as well. The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. And it inspires me to create other interesting walks as well.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK or by clicking on the photo of the book below. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

52 Ways to Walk gait
52 Ways to Walk – Week 2 Improve Your Gait

 

Click photo below to order book:

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.