Updated: Mar 8, 2021
How a few small doses of a simple marching movement can help you bring a little spring in to your step
As we move in to March it seems logical to make mention of the humble Marching Step and some of the benefits that incorporating it in to our daily movement can bring.
(Plus, of course, Mother's Day is in March and that's Suzi's 85 year old Mum, 'M', in the picture above. M's totally 'on it' when it comes to getting her daily exercises done and she loves a good march!)
Apart from it's simplicity, Marching can be considered a fantastic movement because:
It delivers a multitude of benefits - in fact if you could only pack a handful of movements in an imaginary ‘movement bag’ to take away with you when you go anywhere, marching would definitely be one we would recommend
It’s convenient - you don’t actually have to pack anything at all to be able to march anywhere you go! All you need is your body….plus of course a sufficient amount of motivation to get yourself rolling out of inertia and in to a bit of movement
It’s accessible - anyone and everyone of any age (providing they have some degree of voluntary limb movement) can find a version of marching to suit them
You need very little space - if space is limited, marching can be done on the spot. As long as you have enough room to stand (or sit), lift your knees and move your arms, you’re good to go
You can adjust how you march to suit, maintain or advance your fitness level - apart from just doing more or less, or going faster or slower, you can make marching harder when you're ready with the addition of weights, a twist through the torso, lifting your knees higher, adding a step to step up on to, or even ‘marching’ on your back on the floor in a ‘hip bridge’ pose! Or if that sounds a little out of your league (or maybe just exhausting!) make it easier by keeping your knees lower, just using your legs and/or holding on to the back of a chair for support, or ‘marching’ whilst sitting on a chair (using just your arms or your arms and legs)
This is also a great exercise or movement because you really don't need specific guidance on how to march.
Everyone pretty much knows how to do it and there’s really not too many places you can go wrong with marching.
If you do feel you need more details, check out our TEN TOP TIPS below.
Or join a class (either in person when you can, or online) like our MOVEDtoMOVE FITFlow GOLD Class, or any of the many other classes especially designed for older adults, and get marching along with others to add in an extra boost of motivation, social contact, instruction, safety and fun.
Short 5-10 minute ‘bursts’ of marching throughout your day are a great way to:
get stiff joints moving (for example if you’ve been sitting still for a while or have been stuck in one position for a long time, like kneeling whilst gardening)
warm up your body any time you’re feeling cold
warm up before starting any other exercise
strengthen leg muscles to improve knee function, reduce knee pain and keep active
create strength and stability through the front and back of the hips
increase core stability
help reduce shuffling to help prevent falls
get your heart-rate up
boost your mood
Not only that, but:
A study published in 2018* showed that progressive low to moderate intensity marching on the spot, combined with ‘sit to stand’ practice (total time: 20 mins per day over 12 weeks) was effective in improving functional movement and daily living activities amongst frail older adults.
A 2012 study** demonstrated that walking on the spot for an hour burned an average of 258 calories (compared to roughly 304 calories/hr for people who walked on a treadmill).
Increase walking to marching and add in some ‘high knees’ and it’ll be more!
And the same (2012) study also found that just by walking on the spot during TV advert breaks over an evening’s viewing added up to an average of 148 calories and 2,111 steps over a total of 25 mins.
So if you like to indulge in a little something of the chocolatey or biscuity kind alongside a bit of viewing, marching during the commercial breaks can, at the very least, offset the minute or so it takes to consume the 150 calories of 1 and a 1/2 Tunnocks Teacakes, or 1 and 3/4 McVities dark chocolate digestive biscuits, or whatever your favourite treat is!***)
Surely that in itself has got to be good enough motivation to get going with a bit of marching if we haven't managed to convince you to give it a go already?
Our TEN TOP TIPS for Starting Out Safely and Having Fun with Marching:
Watch how much ‘load’ or impact you’re adding as you put your feet down. Our recommendation is keep this low, and start out start light (e.g. don't 'stomp' or bounce), especially if you’re not wearing shoes, you have problems with your pelvic floor muscles, or you have a specific ankle, knee or hip problem and have been told by your health professional to go easy with this type of movement
Keep your body as upright as you are comfortably able to with your eyes looking forward towards 'the horizon' if you can (rather than looking down at your feet)
Move your opposite leg and arm forward at the same time i.e. if you're lifting your left knee forward, it's your right arm that's swinging or pumping forward (and your left arm that's moving back)
Unless you're very used to working out without shoes, or whilst wearing 'minimal footwear', wear plimsoles or training shoes with a bit of support and cushioning whilst you march
If you're marching on the spot, have a chair next to you so you can hold on to the back of it if you need help with your balance
It's so easy to hold our breath when we're concentrating! Remember to breathe and march outside in the fresh air if you're able to (providing you some have even, non-slip ground available and the weather allows)
Add some of your favourite upbeat music to march to for an extra feel-good-feeling
Use the 'Talk-Test' to make sure you don't overdo it: it's fine to get a little out of breath, but you should still be able to hold a conversation (even if only with yourself if no-one else is with you!) whilst you're marching
If you have health condition, or are new to exercise, only start any new exercise programme (including marching at home) with the consent of your doctor or other health professional
Build up gradually, don't overdo it, rest if you need to and stop if you feel at all dizzy or unwell.
Will you be marching on in to March to find a bit of Spring in your step?
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