3 Ways You Benefit From Walking Backwards

Walk Backwards!This weekend 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.  

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.




  • Great idea! We tend to overlook some of the most simplistic movements that are so beneficial to us. Thanks so much for bringing these helpful, new ideas to our attention.

  • This is great. I am going to try more backwards walking for sure.

  • Tracy Flippen

    I walk the last bit of my regimen backwards. I do more sweating and breathing it seems when I reach this final bit of my walk. I love how it seems to sharpen my senses for footing as well as for the rest of the coordination. I have a rocky/caliche road that is not a bit smooth or even. I feel like my walks on my old road are really beneficial to my balance and strengthening of my ankles and calf muscles. Thanks for encouraging with the benefits that are more a proven benefit.

  • Lisa Byrne

    Tracy, this is a great testimony to all of the ‘odd’ moves out there. So many people get stuck in the tight and boring way of the same old, same old.

    Good for you! Great to hear your story and thanks for contributing!


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