Turn your walk into a ruck

Turn your walk into a ruck

Rucking seems to be everywhere these days. It’s becoming more popular and is starting to take social media by storm, but it isn’t just the latest fitness trend. It’s a military training workout used by the U.S. Army and other armed forces around the world.

What is rucking?

Put simply, rucking is walking with a weighted rucksack, also known as a backpack.

Why should you try rucking?

Jonathan Jandrin, a nurse practitioner who specializes in family medicine at Aurora Heath Care, says there are several excellent benefits to rucking, including:

  • It’s easy and inexpensive, requiring no special equipment. You only need a well-fitting, durable backpack and something that provides weight.
  • Rucking provides a low impact cardio workout and is easier on your joints than running.
  • It’s an all-body workout, strengthening your muscles and improving endurance. Research studies show enhanced physical performance and lower limb muscle power in older people.
  • It burns more calories than a normal walk.
  • Rucking is usually done outdoors and being in nature can bolster your mental health and immune system.

“While specially made rucksacks with weights are available, you can easily create your own,” Jandrin says. He offers these tips to help your rucking experience get off on the right foot.

Tips on how to start rucking
  • Use a sturdy backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and preferably a waist strap. Avoid string bags, which can cut into your shoulders and aren’t meant to hold much weight.
  • For weights, use water bottles or bags of rice or sand. You can make smaller sandbags by filling ordinary zipped storage bags and then entirely wrap each bag with duct tape to prevent breakage.
  • Begin gradually, starting with 10 to 15 pounds in your backpack and slowly adding more. You can also increase the intensity of your ruck based on distance and terrain.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated.
  • Limit rucking to one to two times a week to avoid overtraining or injury.

“For most people, if you can walk, you can ruck,” Jandrin says. “But if you have issues with your shoulders, knees or hips, carrying a weighted backpack can worsen your symptoms. If it hurts, stop. And check with your provider before you give rucking a try, just like with any other new exercise program.”

Do you have hip or knee pain? Take a free online quiz to learn more. 

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One Comment

  1. I love rucking! I’ve been rucking since the end of July – it’s efficient: you get your steps in while strength training. There’s a bit of a challenge factor which makes it much more appealing than a walk. You feel like you’ve accomplished something when you come back from a ruck. Definitely a full-body workout – my core is stronger in my 50’s than it has ever been! Thank you for highlighting this great activity!

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About the Author

Mary Arens
Mary Arens

Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.