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Learning to walk again

It is the time of the year when resolutions are made for exercise every day. And the tragedy of the times is that humans, who had evolved millions of years ago to an efficient bipedal body, now needs tips for walking, says orthopaedic surgeon R. Venugopal.

The human body is called the most efficient because its locomotive system, the rhythmic movement of the body, revitalises each and every cell of the body, said Dr. Venugopal.

However, now that this efficient body is resting most of the time, with the food intake going up, people now need walking plans and a mobile app to rediscover walking, he said. “The sad part is that natural walking has given way to artificial walking. The Internet is full of tips for walking,” he added.

How to walk

Holding head with a straight forward vision, chin parallel to the ground, a straight back — not arched, swinging arms freely with a slight bend in the elbows, shoulders moving naturally and the feet moving from heel to toe — this is how a walk is described.

People are more interested in knowing how many calories should be burnt, what is the daily calorie requirement, how much extra calories adds extra fat and so on. Recent studies have also shown that one adds 200 calories a day when eating out, said Dr. Venugopal.

Walking is the answer to a number of non-communicable diseases or lifestyle diseases of modern times. Walking keeps the heart in shape, balances the extra sugar in the body, improves the lung power, enhances vitamin D and so on. It is also said to be the best stress reliever, a major aspect in lifestyle diseases. Alzheimer’s disease, liver disorders and many other metabolic dysfunctions in the body point to a lack of exercise that should come naturally to the body.

People need to ensure good bone health too, said Dr. Venugopal. A calcium-rich diet, vitamin D, and weight-bearing exercises are good for bones, he added.

The many merits

Walking is easy and gentle on joints, builds and strengthens muscles, helps maintain bone mass, reduces osteoporosis, slows the development of arthritis, and increases joints’ flexibility and a range of movements, he added.

Regular walking helps people keep their mobility and prevent a fall, especially in the elderly. It gives the body a good posture, reduces back pain and provides spinal stability.

Physiotherapists, who help people rediscover their ability of body locomotion, come across many issues, especially knee pain, for overweight and obese people. Aqua walking, inside a pool, can reduce the stress on joints, according to physiotherapist Prince J. Francis.

On treadmill

One has to slowly increase the speed and distance of walking to get the best results, he said. Besides, it is always better to walk on natural surfaces than on treadmill, said Mr. Francis. The natural gait cycle or the walking pattern is lost on the treadmill, he said. It is also not recommended for people with back and knee pain, he added.

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