It's no secret that power walking is an excellent form of physical activity. The Mayo Clinic reports that a brisk daily walk can help decrease or maintain your weight, lower your blood pressure, improve heart health, strengthen bones and muscles, enhance balance and coordination and reduce the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
What Is Power Walking?
The easiest way to describe power walking is to think of it as a low-impact alternative to jogging. Basically, it takes regular walking, and ups the intensity like jogging does, but it still remains a low-impact activity that is easier on your body.
If you put two walkers next to each other and told one of them to move at a moderate pace with their arms at their sides, and the other person to increase their speed while simultaneously pumping their arms, it will be very easy to see the difference between the two styles of walking.
The speed of power walking is somewhere between an average walking pace and a jogging pace. This range will look different for everyone, but to get a general idea of pace, Harvard Health Publishing reports that walking at 3.5 mph will allow you to complete one mile in about 17 minutes. Increase that pace to 4.5 mph, and you can now complete one mile in about 13 minutes, which is closer to the speed of power walking.
Additionally, if you're keeping track of calories, a 155-pound person can burn approximately 149 calories in 30-minutes walking at 3.5 mph. Increase that to 4.5 mph, and you are now looking at a total of 186 calories burned in 30-minutes.
Benefits of Power Walking
Since power walking requires a faster pace while pumping your arms, you will increase your heart rate to a level that is higher than slower-paced walking. This leads to an improvement in cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
Just in case you need one more reason to take up power walking, in this August 2017 study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers found that the slower you walk, the higher your chances are of dying from heart disease compared to those who take up brisk walking. The study emphasizes that brisk walkers have lower cardiac and all-cause death.
Power Walking Tips
While walking might seem fairly intuitive, there are some important tips to consider when it comes to your form. First, check to make sure your posture is upright with your head up and neck relaxed, while also pulling your shoulders down and back.
When you walk at a faster pace, you will use your arms considerably, so make sure you're pumping them freely with a slight bend in the elbows. Engage your core muscles (think: belly button to spine) and keep your lower back straight.
Some people like to add ankle weights or small hand weights to their walking routine. While this may seem like a great idea, it's not always advisable to introduce a weighted resistance.
If you have issues with your joints, adding resistance may cause strain or increase your risk of injury. Rather than adding weight, consider increasing your walking pace and distance or perform a few bodyweight exercises such as lunges and squats every 10-minutes during your workout.
Like any other exercise, it's important to warm-up and cool down. Start with a slower-paced walk for five to 10 minutes. Begin to move your arms, but in a shorter range of motion, working up to the full pumping motion by the 10-minute mark. For the cool down, slow your pace and arm range of motion down, and don't forget to stretch.
- American Council on Exercise: "7 Benefits of Walking"
- Mayo Clinic: "Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve Your Health"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- European Heart Journal: "Association of Walking Pace and Handgrip Strength with All-Cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality: A UK Biobank Observational Study"