Alison Durham, Queensland Walks Board Member
The simple act of stepping outside and into your local environment is one of the many benefits of walking. You can hear the birds, pass fellow walkers and connect socially while improving your physical and mental health. But has it ever crossed your mind that you could walk backwards?
It’s one of the methods recommended in Annabel Streets’ 52 ways to walk, a book that not only discusses walking backwards, but the benefits of walking alone, in the cold, near water or into the dark of night.
Lately, I’ve started walking backwards, but mostly in a clandestine way, hoping that no-one is looking. I find it strangely exhilarating. I do it for about ten minutes on most days at the local school, strategically early before anyone arrives.
Walking backwards is actually fairly easy. The main thing to remember is to ensure that the coast is clear! I choose a flat spot so that I don’t fall over and do regular checks behind to make sure I’m not running into anything.
So why do it? Walking backwards can improve your balance and stability and reduce lower back pain. It uses more calories and strengthens different core and lower body muscles than forward walking. This is something I can attest to when I’m out there doing my best moonwalk. I can feel my glutes being used in a different way while also easing any back pain.
I often advocate for improvements in our local community to make walking more accessible for everyone. I regularly come across pathways that don’t connect anywhere, don’t have enough shade, have traffic lights that prioritise cars and roads that are dangerous to cross with heavy traffic and no crossings. Sometimes access is hard for parents with prams or people with a disability, due to barriers such as steps or uneven surfaces.
Our communities still need improvements to make it easier for more people to walk more often. That’s why I’ve become an advocate for Queensland Walks, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes better places for walking. We urge governments at all levels to improve our walking environments with better pathways, improved crossings for pedestrians and reduced car speeds for safety.
If you want to see improvements in your local walking environment, you can contact Queensland Walks or your local Councillor or State MP. Tell them what you want to see to make walking easier and safer for all. You can even do a checklist on positives and negatives about walking in your local area or report local issues online.
If you want to join a local walking group, look for free Heart Foundation Walking groups, or you can walk, jog or run any Saturday wherever you are in Australia with Park Run or join walking challenges with 10,000 Steps.
I look forward to seeing you out and about walking in your local community. But don’t expect to catch me walking backwards!
13/2/23 Blog – https://alisondurham.com.au