By Lisa Byrne, B.S Exercise Sciences | Certified Pilates Instructor
NABBW’s Boomer Women’s Fitness Expert

Recently, the New York Times Magazine featured a great article about running in reverse. I\’ve noodled this post to reflect something we can all relate to better: walking in reverse.lisa byrne

Walking is one of the simplest ways to get movement in anywhere.

Actually, it\’s one of the best things you can do for your body.

Walking as movement, as exercise, as a sport even, doesn\’t need to get in your way.

So get out of its way.

Let\’s flip all this walk-a-thon talk and go backwards!

Walking backwards will benefit you these 3 ways. You will:

  1. Burn more calories
  2. Sharpen your balance
  3. Train your peripheral vision immensely

It\’s also one way to keep your brain healthy and protect it against mechanical thinking as well. Mechanical thinking is that rut that you get grooved into repeating the same old patterns while walking that same route.

Walking backwards uses more energy in a shorter period of time, and burns more calories, says University of Oregon professors, Barry Bates and Janet Dufek.

Even though walking backwards sharpens your balance experts caution about its drawback (because everything has to come with a caution vs. an opportunity).

Experts warn us that a disadvantage of walking backwards is that you can\’t see where you\’re going.

Of course you can\’t.

This is where the training comes in. This is also where you\’ll fine tune your peripheral vision skills immensely. It\’s because you can\’t see where you\’re going that other senses, like hearing, sensing and feeling can play a bigger role. On top of harmonizing those senses you\’ll also tune up up your proprioceptive/kinesthetic system.

Proprioception/Kinesthesia simply means where your body is in space with regards to movement. It\’s how you sense that without constantly seeing it with your eyes.

As with any new motion go slow as you introduce a new perspective. Walking backwards is the simplest form of cross training you can find. It\’s functional fitness at its simplest.

Think about it…

  • Tennis players shuffle all around the court with lots of backwards motion.
  • Golfers walk backwards as they eye up a putt.
  • Caregivers  tend to their loved ones without regard to backward motion.
  • Nurses walk backwards while wheeling a patient.
  • Equestrians walk backwards while tending to their horse.
  • Gardeners, teachers, Mothers, corporate chicks…all of you, use backwards walking/motion in daily living.  

Train your body to SEE IT, tune into it, and benefit from it, not just using it haphazardly without thought and practice.

Lisa Byrne is the owner and chief creative officer at Pilates for Sport, LLC in Bucks County, Pa. She has her B.S in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Pilates Instructor. Lisa has operated her fully equipped Pilates studio since 1999 and has been in the Health and Fitness Industry for 23 years. The studio space is home to private sessions, small group training, and the outdoor circuit buffet, sure to get anyone grooving. Visitors to the movement studio span the range and include average Boomers looking for diversity; young people with Asperger’s-Autism; hard core athletes looking to ‘loosen up’; and those in need of chronic pain management through movement. Learn more about Lisa on her site, Move More Today.