Walking and running are both excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise that can improve your overall health and fitness. However, before starting a walking or running program, it's important to prepare your body by doing exercises that strengthen the muscles used in these activities. Here are three of the best exercises to prepare for walking and running:
1. Squats: Squats are a compound exercise that work multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. These are the same muscles used during walking and running, so incorporating squats into your workout routine can help strengthen these muscles and improve your performance.
To do a squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Lower your body by bending at the knees and hips, keeping your back straight and your weight on your heels. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push back up to the starting position.
2. Lunges: Lunges are another compound exercise that target the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. They also help improve balance and stability, which is important for walking and running.
To do a lunge, start with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward with one foot, keeping your knee directly over your ankle. Lower your body by bending both knees, keeping your back straight and your weight on your front heel. Lower until your back knee almost touches the ground, then push back up to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
3. Calf raises: Calf raises help strengthen the calves, which are important for pushing off the ground during walking and running.
To do a calf raise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the ground. Pause at the top, then slowly lower your heels back down to the ground.
Incorporating these exercises into your workout routine can help prepare your body for walking and running. Start with a few sets of 10-15 reps of each exercise, gradually increasing the number of sets and reps as you get stronger. Remember to warm up before exercising, and always listen to your body to prevent injury.
By: Chris Kennedy, Registered Physiotherapist
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