This is a question that has plagued me for the past several months. You see, I was taking my (semi) daily walk in the park when I noticed several ladies walking backwards. Now, let me tell ya, I have enough problems walking forward so walking backwards is definitely out of the question. Still, I guessed there had to be a reason for this odd behavior, so finally, I decided I would do a little bit of investigating. Here’s what I found:
Apparently you can “Stimulate your fitness IQ by walking backwards”. At least according to Dr. Mercola in an article on his website. It’s called “retro walking” and is supposedly the great way to “build muscle, improve sports performance, promote balance and more.” Other benefits include, putting less strain on your joints, an increase in heart rate which leads to “greater cardiovascular and calorie-burning benefits in a shorter period of time.” Okay, so far sounds good. But that’s just one man’s opinion. So I delved deeper. I clicked over to livestrong.com, a popular fitness site. I found this interesting tidbit, “Although it may be folklore, it has been said that 100 steps backwards are equivalent to 1,000 steps forwards.” Okay, now I was starting to rethink my position. They agreed that walking backwards over a short period of time, uses more calories than walking forward. Hum. And, they also agreed that it’s less strain on the joints. Now, as someone who suffers with knee problems, this whole walking backwards thing was starting to sound better and better.
I decided to try one more article. I headed over to about.com, another trusted source. According to the walking expert, Wendy Bumgardner, “The most recent peer-reviewed study I found concluded that it increased the heart rate by 17% to 20%.” However, claims that walking backyards gives you ten times the benefits of walking forward, seems to be a bit of an exaggeration, based on studies she’s reviewed. “This would suggest that walking backward is a good interval training tactic to add bursts of higher intensity to a walking workout.”
So, three random articles seem to support the idea that walking backwards does offer some benefits and it probably does. I guess I could spend more time and find just as many people who claim there’s no benefit from walking backwards.
The point is, like any form of exercise, diet or whatever new fad you encounter, do your research before you jump in head first. For me, I’ll keep walking forwards...at least for now.
Myra Faye Turner, Writer