Health Benefits of Walking & Pilates

Both walking and Pilates are low impact activities which reap many health benefits to include improve balance, co-ordination, deep muscular activation, posture and mindfulness.

Walking address the cardiorespiratory fitness and resistance training from Pilates addresses improved muscular strength, studies undertaken by Takeshima, et al (2013) have demonstrated that the combined programs, either undertaking both activities on the same day or alternate dayes, walking one day and strength training the following day has significant improvements in endurance, functional strength, agility, flexibility, serum lipids and blood pressure over a 12 week period.

In regard to coronary heart disease, Maestroni et al (2020) found that progressive resistance training provides an improvement in cardiorespiratory function comparable to aerobic training alone, when combined they offer more substantiated improvements in both fitness and strength as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure which may be significantly lowered by resistance training.

Those suffering from anxiety also benefit. In Australian studies on women in their 50’s and 60’s, Ripton (2015) state that women with depression who walked 200 miles a week had more energy and those with anxiety may benefit as cortisol, a hormone that provokes a stress response is lower in those who walk compared to those who are sedentary.

Both walking and Pilates can also be challenged by adding nordic poles for walking to increase the instensity of the walk which can burn more calories, poles also encourage you to stand tall, tighten the abdominals, act as an aid for balance, whilst resistance bands, tubing, circles can be incorporated into Pilates programs to increase strength and intensity.

References

Maestroni, L. Read, P. Bishop, C., Papadopoulos, K., Suchomel, T. J. Comfort, P. & Turner, A. (2020). The benefits of strength training on musculoskeletal system health: Practical applications for interdisciplinary care. Sports Medicine, 50(8), 1431-1450. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-020-01309-5

Ripton, N. (2015) The surprising health benefits of walking

Takeshima, N, Islam MM, Rogers, ME, Rogers, N.L. Sengoku, N, Koizumi, D, Kitabayashi, Y, Imai, A, Naruse, A. (2013) Effects of nordic walking compared to conventional walking and band-based resistance exercise on fitness in older adults. J Sports Sci Med, Sep 1:12 (3): 422-30.

Camino & Mindfulness

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Camino de Santiago is an excellent reason to take time out and integrate some walking mindfulness into your Camino.  Be aware of the sounds of nature, the wind, sun, rain and other people.  How can we become mindful of our experience of walking? Start with a natural relaxed walking rhythm, keep your attention in the soles of your feet, being aware of the alternating patterns of contact with your foot as it makes contact with the ground, then focus on sensations in your muscles and joints, expanding that awareness into your posture and breathing.

Posture – The Neck

There are many reasons for neck pain and one of the most common factors include the ligaments over-stretching, which could be related to postural stress. Some examples include lying in an awkward position, sitting for prolonged periods at a desk or computer, sporting activities, playing an instrument, driving or gardening.

The neck has a high level of movement and flexibility due to the structure of the joints.  The cervical spine which consists of 7 vertebrae, which rest upon each other.  Separating the vertebrae are cartilages, these are called discs.  Each joint is surrounded and held together by soft tissue which is supported by ligaments.

The neutral position of the neck should maintain a small curve, called the cervical lordosis and it is when the natural curve of the neck is lost or changed that pain could arise.

Thinking about how the neck is positioned on a daily basis, if the neck is protruded,  could lead to over-stretched ligaments, an awareness of retracting the neck enables the cervical neck to maintain its lordosis.

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