April 22, 2013

Health magazine's story "Walk a Little, Live a Lot (Longer)" proves that you don't need to run a marathon (or even a half marathon) to stay fit. In fact, you don't need to run at all: Squeezing in some extra walking every day is a great way to burn calories, boost mood, and lower your risk of disease.

One type of walking, called ChiWalking, can even cut down on aches and pains by incorporating elements of tai chi, yoga, and pilates. By emphasizing good posture, loosening joints, engaging core muscles, and relaxing the arms and legs, this approach makes walking easier on the body and helps eliminate the discomfort of moving incorrectly.

According to, you can learn (and then mix and match) 12 different types of ChiWalks depending on your goals, including a Cardio Walk, an Aerobic Walk, a Flexibility Walk, a Loosening Walk, a Focusing Walk, an Energizing Walk, a Walking Meditation, and more. These walks focus on the body-mind component inherent by incorporating what the folks at this site call the Five Mindful Steps.

1. Get aligned: physically with your posture, mentally with your intentions

2. Engage your core: physically with your lower abdominals, mentally by using your will power

3. Create balance: physically between your upper and lower body and also between the right side and the left side of your body, mentally by creating a balanced fitness program

4. Make a choice: physically to walk in a new way, mentally to create health

5. Move forward: physically with grace and ease, mentally by focusing your mind on the next mindful step

ChiWalking originated from ChiRunning, a practice invented by ultramarathoner Danny Dreyer to help runners learn to land on their mid-foot (the most efficient way to run long distances) and prevent shin splints and overuse injuries by putting less strain on their lower legs and toes. A recent survey conducted by West Virginia University showed that 90% of ChiRunning students reported that the technique prevented injuries and improved ease of running.

With ChiWalking and ChiRunning gaining popularity, New Balance has unveiled a running shoe (both men's and women's versions, created with Dreyer's help) specifically for mid-foot strike runners.

ChiRunning and ChiWalking clubs and workshops are springing up around the country, and of course, the website offers books and DVDs as well. Give this a try and let us know what you think.