Why Do We Swing Our Arms While Walking?

It’s lunchtime and the weather is gorgeous, so you opt to sit outside and soak up some rays. Within a few minutes of watching people walk past, a random thought pops in your head: Why does everybody feel compelled to swing their arms while walking? The simple answer is biomechanics. Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that arm swinging is the most economical form of motion, requiring little effort from the muscles. In their experiments, it was discovered that people who kept their arms steady actually had to expend more effort to walk, while those who allowed their arms to swing naturally walked 20% faster. Think of it as a pendulum. When your legs move, so does your body. This movement forces your arms to sway — just like a pendulum — with your arms moving involuntarily as a result of the motion. In this way, the muscles aren’t being exerted. In fact, moving our arms while we walk makes it easier for our legs, too. The force with which we contact the ground increases by 63% if our arms are in motion. This significantly lowers the effort that we put in during a casual walk. Physics aside, swinging arms just seems aesthetically right. We can all take a lesson from Sonya, Elaine Benes’ co-worker, played by Molly Shannon, on the sitcom Seinfeld…….