Walking every day is key to our philosophy on health and wellness for mums. But what can ‘just walking’ as exercise really achieve? How can walking strengthen my core? Help my pelvic floor? How will I lose weight? Don’t I have to go fast? Is this about heart rate? How far should I walk? How long? Why do I have to walk? How can I find time with kids?
To answer your questions, here’s Beth Mount, Alignment Expert and Coach and certified MUTU Pro.
“Walking is so much more important and easier than you might think. MUTU’s daily walk is a key part of the programme, it’s part of the puzzle that will help you to adjust your alignment. Without adjusting our alignment, we’re not addressing the excess pressure that’s causing problems like diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Benefits of walking as exercise post-baby
Walking is beautiful and useful. It brings you so many benefits. It can improve your mood, focus, and energy levels. It works and cares for so many muscles at once. Hips, glutes hamstrings, quads, toe flexors and extensors, triceps, core, and spinal muscles. It really is a symphony of muscles working together, contracting and releasing. Walking as exercise is also a great escape from all the daily pressures put on us moms.
The goal is to get out and get moving, letting the world go by in the fresh air. This is such a powerful way to take care of yourself.
MUTU is changing our alignment and how our body moves for the better. Part of the magic of the daily walk is that it does use so many muscles at once. This makes it powerful for improving alignment. As we walk every day we guide our feet to point forward in the direction we are moving. Setting our feet and legs at the width of our front pelvic bones (ASIS) helps turn on our lateral hip muscles and glute muscles. Now our legs can push us forward, building strength.
How long should I walk for?
The goal is to walk more than you are walking now. At first, a 20 minute walk is an essential part of your day. This is a perfect length of time to start with and consider your minimum. Exercise science studies have shown significant health improvements with the first 20 minutes of exercise like walking. We can keep increasing our walking time from there toward 3 miles a day. But for now, do what it manageable for you and your busy schedule.
Do I need to do it all at once?
Of course not! There are benefits to having multiple walks during the day. So two 20 minute walks are great. Or 20 minutes, 15 and 5. Mix it up and work it around your day.
Where should I walk?
Walk just about anywhere! In the grass in your yard, at the playground, down your street, inside the grocery store, go for a family hike. Just walk!
How do I fit in walking as exercise?
Lots and Lots of different ways. First, start with a walk that is as easy to make happen as possible. Get out and get everyone moving. The ideal goal is to get some walking as exercise without a wearing, carrying or pushing any kiddos. Those types of walking are important too. We get that you need to push a stroller and carry your baby. Walking without an extra load helps our changing alignment improve even more.
Walking carrying a baby or pushing a buggy
You don’t have to go anywhere to get your walking time in. Try laps or large pacing in or near your home, or circling the playground at the park. Once you can get the kids walking with you or riding toys and bikes you can get a nice traveling walk on.
Getting your kids agreeable to walking with you can help a lot. Any way to make it a game appeals to everyone. A few ideas I’ve seen are, playing frisbee, collecting rocks or pictures of nature. Walking to get a snack makes for happy kids. Park a half mile from your favourite coffee shop or bakery? Get creative because we need it so so much.
Walking as exercise whilst baby-wearing
Mamas often ask about baby-wearing and stroller-pushing whilst walking. Remembering a few things can help keep you working on alignment while walking with your little ones. When baby-wearing, put the carrier and baby on with good alignment. Ribs stacked over the pelvis, shoulders relaxed, down and wide. Starting in a strong stacked position can bring more ease to carrying as we get stronger.
A really common habit when holding and wearing kids, that can overload us, is shifting the weight all into one hip on the left or right side. Check-in and stack up over your feet and pelvis. Listening to our muscles is also so important. Feel for fatigue, for when the muscles begin to get tired. When our muscles start to tire, that’s when we will come out of alignment. So, notice it and realign, switch up position or take a break.
One way to switch position is to use your arms, even with baby in the carrier, reach under baby’s bum and lift them up a bit with your arm. This can give your core a bit of a break and change up how you are using your body. Switch arms too! Remember that sometimes we do have to carry for a long time, as always, you are doing your best!
Walking and pushing a buggy or pushchair
Holding and pushing the buggy can throw our rib alignment off, so let your body centre as it’s able to. No forcing needed. Pushing the pushchair is a time you can focus on your lower body alignment. As you are holding on, you can really focus on how you are using your legs through your walk. See if you can walk with your feet hip-width apart, pointing straight ahead… As you walk holding the buggy think about pushing your foot down into the ground and pushing the ground away behind you, propelling yourself forward. If you can feel your butt working, That’s it!
A lot of these walking solutions mean that you might stand out and may have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Well, go for it, mama! It can be uncomfortable, but you have total permission to take care of yourself. You’ll get more used to it and it won’t feel so strange anymore. Feeling silly really is the worst that can happen. The best that can happen is how great you will feel in your body, feeling more connected with yourself and your family, the friends you can meet and the ones you can grow closer to.