We’re all looking forward to a new year full of possibilities. But, wait, should we be walking backwards? It may sound a little eccentric, but there are many reasons to put one foot behind the other – here are a few of them.

You’ve been doing it your entire life. Putting one foot in front of the other and walking forwards. But are you doing it right? We’re overloaded with information on how to walk – what posture we should take, whether our arms should be bent or straight, whether to strike with the toe or the heel – and what about the whole 10k-steps-a-day myth? It’s endless.

Enter, walking backwards. Hailed in China for its health and mental advantages, there are plenty of advantages to walking in reverse (or retro-walking, as it’s also known). Whether you do it on a treadmill or at the park, the benefits are the same.

Why is walking backwards good for you? The facts:

It might feel a little strange at first. You might even get a few confused glances. But who cares what other people think when the benefits are so abundant…

  • Walking backwards burns more calories. Moving in reverse gets your heart pumping faster than moving forwards, meaning you get a cardio fix, metabolism boost and torch more calories in a shorter period of time.
  • Walking backwards is brilliant for balance. Your body is used to hoofing it forwards without thought. But when you switch up direction, you slightly throw off your body’s centre of gravity, calling for more stability to maintain your balance. Always make sure you’re walking in an area without obstacles to avoid falls or collisions.
walking backwards
  • Walking backwards sharpens the senses. Since it goes against our logic, stepping in reverse hones your thinking skills. You have to pay attention, which flexes your mental muscles, boosts body consciousness and improves your vision.
  • Walking backwards is easier on the joints and back. If you have any sort of back or knee injury, you’ll soon see why walking backwards is good for you when you begin reverse stepping. It takes away the usual heel-strike, requires less range of motion in your joints than walking forwards and changes your pelvic alignment to open joints in your spine – potentially easing off back pain.
  • Walking backwards does wonders for flexibility & strength. Retro-walking for 10-15 minutes, four days a week, can flex out your hamstrings and strengthen muscles that usually take a backseat when we walk forwards (looking at you, quads and calves).
  • Walking backwards shakes up your routine. Bored of the same old exercises? Not only does reversing your walk come with a range of benefits for the mind and body, it mixes up your activities and staves off monotony – meaning you’re more likely to stick with your training.

Try something different and start walking backwards. Find a place where you can start retro-walking without the worry of bumping into anyone or stepping out onto a road, such as a local park. Or, head to your local club and practice on a treadmill at a low speed, on an incline to challenge your quads.

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