Bored of your usual morning walk? Try reverse walking for these health benefits
Ever tried walking backwards? While that may seem counterintuitive and even silly, experts say reverse walking can actually be quite beneficial for your brain, heart and give a boost to your metabolism enabling you to burn more calories than your usual forward walking.
"Walking 100 Steps Backward - Retro Walking - is Equivalent to 1,000 Steps Forward Walking," tweeted Lori Shemek, 4X Bestselling Author and top health expert.
Shemek says walking in reverse could make one's heart pump faster and circulate more blood and oxygen to the muscles and organs, including the brain.
What walking backwards actually does is to engage a different set of muscles - calf muscles, glutes, and quadriceps. It also challenges your mind to think and operate differently.
"One of the reasons it promotes brain health is the combination of keeping check on our surrounding and movement. Similar to dancing's brain health benefits," adds Shemek.
A researcher with the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute says the practice of walking backwards could help patients who have experienced stroke learn to walk again.
Oluwole Awosika, MD, assistant professor in the department of neurology and rehabilitative medicine at UC and a UC Health stroke expert, is doing research that examines how walking backward on a treadmill might impact sensory signalling in the brain and body to improve walking in this group of patients.
Backward walking is believed to improve limb balance and improve lower limb proprioception and gait synergy. Many studies have concluded that it can improve the symptoms of patients with knee osteoarthritis and can be used as an adjunctive treatment for it.
Moving in backward direction has plenty of health benefits, especially for heart.
"Moving in reverse causes your heart to beat faster than moving forward, allowing you to get a cardio fix, boost your metabolism, and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Walking backward is excellent for improving balance," says Dr Ankur Phatarpekar, Director Cath Lab, Symbiosis Hospital, Mumbai told HT Digital.
"Any type of walking gives the heart and lungs the efficiency to function well. The more you walk the lesser chances of developing cardiovascular diseases. It reduces the risk of developing other factors for heart diseases by lowering blood pressure, increasing HDL which is good cholesterol, keeping insulin and blood sugars in check by reducing the chances of diabetes," Dr Saurabh Goel, Consultant Cardiologist, Wockhardt Hospital told HT Digital.
Dr Goel says reverse walking also has various benefits for the overall health of the body and it strengthens bones and muscles, boosts energy levels, improves walking techniques and helps with balance.
"Not only does it improve heart health also balance and vision and is beneficial to the hips, legs, and trunk and enhances mental clarity.” says Dr Phatarpekar.
For people who are short on time, they can try reverse walking to make their workouts more efficient and intense.
"A combination of backward walking or running can improve cardiorespiratory fitness and change body composition. The body is less familiar with walking backwards, so one can expect to get more cardiovascular and calorie-burning benefits in a shorter amount of time," says Dr Goel.
Be careful if you are not habitual to walking in backward direction.
"To avoid falls or collisions, always walk in an open area free of obstacles. Not only does it improve heart health also balance and vision and is beneficial to the hips, legs, and trunk and enhances mental clarity," says Dr Phatarpekar.
The next time you go for a morning walk in your neighbourhood park, you may try walking backwards instead of your usual forward walking for reaping maximum health benefits.