Power walking: what is it and how to do it
What exactly is power walking? Should I be doing this as part of my exercise regime to get fitter and what are the benefits? Will it help me lose weight? All questions this blog answers!
What is power walking?
Power walking is different to a stroll in the park. It is a fast-paced walk that will cause you to be out of breath and raise your heart rate. If you power walk correctly this can be excellent exercise and less impactful on your joints than running. Like any exercise if you are new to it, don’t do too much too fast. Start with just 10 or 20 minutes depending on your current level of fitness and consult your doctor if you are suffering from, or recovering from an illness or injury.
How fast should I walk?
A normal walking speed is around 2-3 miles an hour. When you are power walking you should be aiming for 4-5 miles an hour. Wearing pedometer or using your phone will be a useful guide. You may not be able to walk this fast to begin with but with practice you will get there. As long as you are getting hot and a little out of breath you are pushing yourself enough, and you want to continue on the walk so don’t peak to early! But power walking involves your whole body it is not just a case of walking fast.
What is important about my technique?
There are a number of things to consider as you power walk. These include:
Don’t start out too fast, spend the first 5 minutes warming up your muscles and getting into a good pace
Think about the muscles involved in good posture, including your deep abdominals (these keep you upright and your pelvis in the right position, level and facing forward) and those in your bottom (your glutes). Make sure you engage these muscles whilst walking.
Your shoulders should be relaxed but you should be using your arms in time with your legs and keep to your normal stride. Bend your elbows slightly and swing them as you walk.
Think of a slight bounce in your step as you roll from your heel to your toe and lift off from your toes. One foot should always be in contact with the floor.
Slow up slightly during the last 5 minutes of your walk to help you cool down and make sure you stretch at the end. If you want ideas for stretching see this blog.
Will I lose weight Power Walking?
Power walking is an excellent exercise to do as part of a wider weight loss strategy. It is something you can begin to do, alongside changing to healthy eating patterns, even if you haven’t done any exercise for some time.
Power walking is estimated to use up around 500 calories an hour if you are walking 4-5 miles per hour. Once you are comfortable walking at speed on a flat surface, find a few hills to include on your route and you will gain even more fitness. Once you lose weight you can add weight! For example by carrying a rucksack – these help keep your shoulders in the right position!
If you are going to start walking on a regular basis you do need to look after your feet. Make sure your training shoes/walking boots are comfortable and you have good socks. For more tips on looking after your feet see our blog on that subject.
Whether you walk to lose weight or just to get fitter you may find you end up loving the walking. I started when I was 48 and am still walking around 5 miles a day now, eight years later.