A fitness trainer explains why power walking is so good good for you, and why we should all start doing it.
For those among us who aren’t runners or cyclists, having to endure lockdown without access to the gym likely won’t have been easy. But, as a result of having more time to kill and fewer options of what to do with it, an unsung hero of the fitness world has taken centre stage for many people: walking.
Walking, and particularly power walking, is a great form of exercise. Not only does it give you a good cardiovascular workout, but it also builds muscle, helps build stronger bones, and lowers your risk of getting diabetes and certain cancers. It is also fun and relaxing, and has been proven to help improve mental health, especially when walking outdoors.
Now that lockdown is lifting and the world is starting to return to some degree of normality, gyms are getting ready to reopen their doors. But if you’re still anxious about getting out of the house, or you just really came to love your daily walks, then kicking it up a gear with power walking is still an excellent way to stay in shape.
What is power walking?
Power walking is a faster, more technical form of walking. The emphasis in power walking is primarily on speed, and you need to try and keep your pace consistently above your natural walking speed. Runner, personal trainer and founder of the fitness bootcamp TSC Method Tashi Skervin says that, as a rough guide, “if your normal walking pace feels like a two or three out of ten for effort, power walking should feel more like a six or seven out of ten”.
There is also more of a focus on your arm movements when you’re power walking. You need to keep them by your sides at a 90 degree angle and move them back and forth as you walk.
How to power walk
While your arms should be doing a fair bit of work, it’s also important not to rotate too much through your upper body as they move. “This is unnecessary energy expenditure”, as Tashi explains. “You need to use your core to maintain an efficient walking technique”.
It’s also important not to overstride. You want to keep your walking pattern as natural as possible, just faster.
Why is power walking good for you?
One of the many great things about power walking is that, as Tashi says, “you only need to power walk for 20-30 minutes a few times a week to start feeling the benefits”. It is a form of exercise that can really help you work up a sweat and improve your fitness, without causing unnecessary strain on your joints.
It can also use up a similar amount of energy as running, when done correctly. According to Healthline, power walking at 4.5mph for one hour takes up as much energy as running or jogging at the same pace for the same length of time.
Tashi recommends that beginners start out “by adding two or three 20 minute power walks into their week”. Then, once you get comfortable with your pace and the technique, “try to do the same 20 minute route you usually do, but finish it in under 20 minutes”.
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