women-walkingOver the years I’ve done a lot of different forms of exercise to attempt to stay fit. For about the last four months the routine that’s worked best for me is a morning walk. So, each morning — unless it’s pouring rain — I drag myself out of bed and head outside for a 30 to 40 minute walk.

In addition to spotting a lot of interesting wildlife on my walks, I’ve come to recognize some of the regular morning walkers. There have always been quite a few elderly women walking through the park by my house each morning. About two weeks ago, I noticed that some of them were adding a bit of variety to their morning walks.

Of course a few of the women move small arm weights as they walk, but I was particularly interested to notice one doing tai chi arm movements as she walked through the park. So far I haven’t noticed anyone walking with walking poles, but suspect I’ll see that at some point.

In addition to doing arm movements, some of the ladies have also started varying their walking styles. I saw one woman walk through the entire park zigzagging back and forth across the sidewalk. The minute she would touch the right edge of the sidewalk with her feet, she would take a few steps straight ahead, and then begin walking toward the left edge of the sidewalk.  Another woman walked about 10 steps facing the front, and then turned around and walked backwards for 10 steps. She didn’t go very fast, but persisted through her entire walk. Another woman walked laterally, switching from side to side after about 20 steps.

A few days ago I finally became curious enough and decided to give a few of these variations a try. I tried doing a lateral walk for about 30 steps on each side, and then managed to walk backwards for about 20 steps. Walking laterally wasn’t too difficult, but I could definitely feel different muscles working. But walking backwards was really hard! With each step I felt as if I might fall over.

Since my initial experiment, I’ve given up on walking backwards. But the lateral walking is pretty interesting, and I’m continuing to add in a bit of it each morning. So far I have yet to add in any arm movements, but remain curious, particularly about walking poles.

Are you a walker? If so, do you add any variety to your walking? And have you ever tried walking poles?