Walking in general is a rewarding form of exercise, regardless of your age, gender or fitness level. It’s free, easy to do and offers a multitude of health benefits both physically and mentally.
But did you know that there are different types of walking? It’s true, in addition to casual, lifestyle walking, there’s also brisk, marathon, race or power walking. These have their own features and represent a great way to keep your exercise routine challenging and entertaining.
In this article we’ll be focusing on power walking and how it can help you refresh your exercise routine and improve your health.
What is Power Walking
Power walking is the technique of walking at a speed found at the upper limit of the natural range for walking. Practically this speed ranges between 4.5 mph – 5.5 mph (7.2 km/h – 8.8 km/h).
What differentiates this type of walking from other similar forms of exercise like jogging and running is the fact that at least one foot must be in permanent contact with the ground.
How to Power Walk Correctly
Before engaging in this physical activity, it’s a good idea to understand the technique behind power walking. This way, by following a couple of basic guidelines, you’ll be able to make the most of your workout. Here are a couple of useful tips:
- Mind your posture. Having a good posture and maintaining it all throughout the exercise session will make a big difference. A proper body position means standing straight and tall with your feet together, shoulders pulled backwards and eyes looking forward. Also try to draw your stomach in so that you’ll engage your core abdominal muscles.
- Keep the right arm motion. One of the important aspects to take into account is to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle and move your arms the correct way. The correct way means moving them front to back. Don’t walk with your arms straight at your sides, don’t cross them over the center point of your body, don’t do any excessive movements. Just swing them gently back and forth.
- Take short, natural strides. One of the common mistakes done by beginners is to overstride. This means taking longer steps than usual in order to increase speed during the workout. Taking longer steps isn’t at all effective and can also lead to injuries. Just use short strides and you’ll most surely rip more benefits.
How Many Calories Can You Burn
Power walking can be an effective method to burn calories. According to CalorieLab, a 165 lbs (75 kg) adult walking at a speed of 4.5 mph for 15 minutes can burn 99 calories.
Increase the speed to 5 mph and you’ll be able to burn 131 calories in just a quarter of an hour.
Physical and Psychological Benefits
Power walking comes with a multitude of health benefits. Done on a constant basis, this form of exercise can help you improve not only your physical, but mental health as well. Here’s what it can do for you.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease. Medical studies have shown that a moderate physical activity like power walking can help you reduce the risk of hypertension, high cholesterol and possibly coronary heart disease.
- Improves diabetes control. According to the same study, engaging in this form of exercise is a great way to lower your blood sugar levels and hence better manage your diabetes.
- Lowers the risk of cancer. According to research, there is a strong link between regular physical activity and lower risk of cancer. Power walking on a constant basis can help you reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including bladder, breast or colon cancer.
- Lose weight effectively. Medical findings have shown that power walking can help you drop those unwanted pounds in an effective way. According to the study, this form of exercise has a direct impact particularly on belly fat.
- Keeps your bones healthy. Aerobic activity like power walking can help you build new bone cells and improve your bone mineral density. Picking up the pace while walking will aid you strengthen your muscles as well.
- Relieves stress and anxiety. Engaging in an aerobic physical activity will allow you to release more endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals produced by our bodies. Endorphins help us relieve stress and anxiety and improve our overall mood.
- Improves cognitive performance. According to research, walking during lunchtime can be associated with a higher level of concentration and higher energy in the afternoon. Moreover, researchers at Stanford University have demonstrated that walking has the power to boost creative thinking.
Tip: Track your Power Walks
Tracking your physical activity is a step you should always consider. Monitoring your power walks will allow you to hold yourself accountable, to understand the progress made along the way and find the motivation to go even further and reach new fitness goals.
The simplest way to track your progress is to use your mobile phone. All you have to do is install a pedometer app like our own ActivityTracker and you’re all set. Using an app will give you the chance to see a series of relevant fitness stats, such as the number of steps, amount of calories burned, distance walked or time spent active. You’ll also get to set your own goals and periodically visualize your progress.