Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Walking backwards

Hey lady, you should walk backwards!

Yesterday evening we decided to take a walk. As we weren't paying attention while walking, we almost had a collision-accident as we didn't really notice the woman walking -backwards- towards us. I am not quite sure why our jet-lagged brains didn't register her, but I am guessing it might have something to do with the fact that we couldn't see her face. (Normally, people walking towards you walk with their face to the front, not backwards). Our little collision couldn't help but leave me wonder why so many people in China walk backwards? I understand that it is supposed to be some sort of exercise, but I am not quite sure if I would label it as 'doable' on the busy streets of Suzhou?! Also, considering how much road work there is everywhere around here, the risks of hitting a hole/a working area since you don't really notice it when you have your back against it, are quite high! So, why do people engage in this, highly questionable exercise method? Has some doctor gone on national TV telling people it is good? Or, does walking backwards have some hidden benefits that people like me (read: ignorant laowai) fail to see?

The backwards-walking-woman that we bumped into yesterday was quite young. Otherwise I would say the majority of backwards-walkers are seniors. Except for backwards-evening-walkers on the streets of Suzhou, I have also seen plenty of backwards-walkers on the treadmills at my gym, and in parks. Every time I see them taking on an incline of 1,5 at the speed of 4 on the treadmill, I cannot help but feel a tad worried that they are going to fall and hurt themselves badly. Far from all of them look stable. But maybe it is worth the risk if backwards-walking has rewarding benefits? I read somewhere that it was good for your back, and another page stated that it helps boost metabolism (bloody h***, every little kind of movement does soon). But does it, really? 

4 comments:

Anush said...

This is hilarious. I wish I could see some video of this. Can't believe people walk backwards on the streets. I'm from India and you'll see lots of crazy things on the streets but walking backwards is not one of them (yet).

Melinda said...

I just googled "Chinese people walking backward" because I go to school in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA and I was walkig to my 8am class and there was an older Chinese man walking faster than me BACKWARD! I had no idea what was going on. He also looked like he was holding a bowl with a spoon or fork sticking out of it. It was an extremely strange sight. Glad to know there's a reason for it and that he wasn't a serial killer!

Anonymous said...

It's done to work out the areas of the brain that do not get activated when we walk forward. It's called Brain Fitness, and now these exercises are use for people with dementia and Alzheimers. There are many more exercises such as wearing your watch in the other hand or washing your hair with your eyes close.

Anonymous said...

Have been backward walking for years.I started off in a mall before opening hours. It was safe and I new where every planter was. Did not really worry about people crashing into me. I figured they would avoid colliding with me since I was the one not seeing them coming. I would get weird looks and some would comment or ask me why I was walking backwards. I would tell them I forgot where I left something, and I am just going backward to see if I can remember. Walking backwards is fun !!! Now I walk at an outdoor high school track, no planters to worry about, and I can pick up my pace. Great mental workout too!