Practising Pilates by Julie Regan

I WENT for a wonderful long walk in Petworth Park today and was musing about what to write for this month’s column when a flash of inspiration caught me as I watched several dog-walkers on their daily routine.

We all lead busy lives and if like me, you are a dog-owner, the daily dutiful dog walk is an ideal time to practice some Pilates to perfect your posture and tone your muscles.

My advice is to firstly check your current posture. Are you looking to the ground as you walk along or do you hold your head up high with shoulders back, opening your chest to allow your lungs to breath deeply?

If Fido is an avid ‘stick fetcher’, then squat down to pick up the stick instead of simply bending at the hips and putting potential strain on your lower back.

Once you’ve re-launched the stick again, then stand and do some squats until it is retrieved back to you.

This time roll your body down towards the floor to grab the stick again, being mindful to pull your tummy in and roll back up to begin the game again.

Another great tool to use is a walking stick or long stick to draw back your arms and stretch the front of your shoulders. Place the stick against the back of your waist and loop both arms over as you stride along, preferably getting a little out of breath.

If you are in woodland, then stop to do ten press-ups against every tenth tree.

Keep your arms at shoulder height, shoulder width apart and bend your elbows, bringing your chest towards the trunk. To make this harder, move your feet further away from the base and go on to your tiptoes.

You can achieve a super easy chest stretch by placing one hand on the tree then turn away from the tree as if you are talking to someone behind you.

Feel the stretch deep into your chest and along your arm.

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