Trading stationary stretches for more active moves is a better way to lubricate joints, reduce risk of injury, and get blood flowing to your walking muscles, studies find. Try these four moves, courtesy of Tom Dooley, national walking coach for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, before your next workout for a smoother, easier stride.
1. Hurdles (loosens tight hips)
Balance on right leg (hold a chair or wall for support) with left leg bent so heel is behind you. Rotate left leg out to left side and forward as if drawing a circle with knee. Do 15 times, then switch legs.
2. Windmills (relaxes shoulders and neck)
Stand with arms at sides. Circle right arm up in front of you overhead, and then down behind you (like swimming the backstroke). Do 15 circles, then switch arms and repeat.
3. Foot Rock-Overs (stretches arches)
Stand with feet staggered, right foot flat about 12 inches behind left foot, left toes lifted off floor. Shift weight forward, simultaneously lowering left toes and rolling onto ball of right foot, lifting right heel. Reverse to start. Do 15 times, switch feet, and repeat.
4. Heel Raises (strengthens calves)
Stand with feet parallel, hip-width apart, hands on a chair or wall for support, if needed. Lift heels and raise onto toes for two seconds, then lower. Do 15 times. Repeat with heels together and toes pointing out, then with toes together and heels out.