Get the most out of your walk.
Walking. It’s one of the best exercises out there. Easy on the joints, simple, and accessible to practically anyone, walking is a great way to stay in shape and improve your health. Pick up the pace and put a little oomph behind your stride to turn your stroll into what’s known as a power walk. With the potential of burning as many calories as jogging, you may find power walking to be your new favorite workout.
To gain maximum benefit from power walking, follow the correct form and technique. Read on to learn how get the most out of your walk.
One thing that makes walking a popular form of exercise is the lack of required equipment. All you need is a pair of comfortable, lightweight, well-fitted walking shoes. Without the right support, your feet, legs, and back may end up injured, achy, or sore. Avoid wearing worn-out athletic shoes or footwear not designed for walking long distances. Get your feet evaluated at your local sports shoe store for the best fit.
The second requirement for power walking is proper venue. The treadmill at the gym, your neighborhood, or a walking trail will all suffice. Pavement or treadmill are fine options, but walking on sand, grass, or gravel may increase the intensity and therefore burn more calories.
Setting the Pace
Like all workouts, it’s best to start with a 5- to 10-minute warm up and end with a cool down and stretches. Start your routine by walking at a comfortable speed, and then get moving. Your goal should be to walk at a four-and-a-half mile-per-hour pace. This speed has the potential to burn as many calories as jogging (around 200 calories in a half hour). If you’re out of shape, don’t expect to maintain this pace your first workout, but over the course of a few weeks, work your way up.
If you’re unsure how fast you walk, track how long it takes you to walk one mile and compare it to the following:
- It takes 20 minutes to walk a mile going three miles per hour.
- It takes 15 minutes to walk a mile at four miles per hour.
- It takes 13 minutes to walk a mile at a four-and-a-half mile-an-hour pace.
Going faster doesn’t mean lengthening your stride. Increasing the distance between steps actually decreases your efficiency. Instead, focus on short, quick steps in which you land first on your heel, roll through your foot, and push yourself off your toes. Think: heel, ball, toe.
Keep your back, neck, and head aligned in proper posture. Instead of watching the ground below you, raise you head so your eyes are looking ahead and you’re able to see what’s going on around you.
In a normal stride, your arms hang loosely by your side. When in power-walking mode, bend your elbows at 90 degrees, keep your hands in a relaxed fist, and swing them close to your body from your waist up to your chest. By doing this, you’ll walk faster and therefore burn more calories. You’ll also get an upper-body workout and prevent swelling in your hands.
As you walk, contract your core to support your back and squeeze your glute muscles to give your walk that extra oomph and tone your tush.
Interval training is a great way to go for a power-walking routine. Alternating your quick power-walking speed with your normal walking pace will get you fit faster and burn more calories over the course of your workout. Try power walking for one to two minutes, regular walking for two to three, and then back to power walking.