Why do people swing their arms as they walk?

Well - first off - they DON’T. Not all the time. If I look at a street of people and count how many are doing the classic swinging of BOTH ARMS I see about 1 in 10 people doing it.

This are my guesses as to why we do it:

  1. as a kid, as we learn to walk, we do it to balance. We keep the habit as we grow older
  2. when we were 4 legged apes we walked on our arms as well. it’ a genetic leftover.
  3. we do it cos we see people swing their arms as they walk
  4. the arm acts as a pendulum. It’s about the same length as the leg.

I don’t swing my arms. People look at me like I’m a bit strange though. I guess it looks odd.

They are counterweights and help to balance leg movement. Proper use of the arms helps to make walking and running more efficient.

The arms are actually auxiliary to the walking motion. The real work for walking is done in the legs, but that wouldn’t work if you didn’t twist your hips. To keep balance, you countertwist in the spine, and the back and abdominal muscles help add power and traction. This back-and-forth shoulder motion translates to the arms if they’re relaxed.

That’s why people running, which is a higher-powered activity, almost invariably bend their arms at the elbow and raise them. This way, they can have their arms help with what the torso is doing - you can feel it if you sprint, that you’re sort of pulling the lateral muscles with the help of the arms. Doing so involves upper arms and pecs, it can feel almost like shadow-boxing.

When running, the added balance and power is indispensable. For walking it’s not as essential, but still useful.

Walking is a whole body process. When you walk you are trying to get the body mass moved. It is not just moving your legs. Take the advantage of using your whole body when walking, it pays back!

Well i’ll just add a little, since i haven’t read the posts above me. My bad.

When you walk it’'s basically just a controlled fall, you use your arms as mass to start the controlled fall, which actaully is just the movement of moving forwards, since your foot stops you before you fall over.

Imagine a person walking forward, if they didn’t use their arms they would need to start that fall with the mass of their upper body (torso/ head) which would use alot more engery than just swinging your arms.

Of course it also acts as a balance, but alot of that balance comes from your upper torso and head.