The "Power" of Power Walking - Burn Calories, Get Real Exercise
Do You Realize the "Power" of Power Walking?
Maybe you’re an avid exerciser, but are looking for a way to exercise with less impact on your body (such as comparing power walking vs. running); OR, maybe you are looking for a way to increase your amount of weekly exercise – Power Walking could be just the thing!
The great thing about power walking is that it takes no equipment, no gym membership and you can do it anywhere – at work, in your neighborhood, on vacation. But there are ways to maximize its benefits.
Come up with a plan – power walking is an easy way to increase your activity level, burn calories and keep you fit!
Which Calorie-Burning Power Walking Plan is Right for You?
- You work out hard 3 to 4 times each week - Use power walking on the “off days” to ensure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day! For more on staying active, visit our article on How to Keep Running or __ (fill in that blank) post 40, 50, 60.
- You want to get back into exercise, lose some weight and are looking for a simple way to start - Power walk on your lunch break, in the early morning or after dinner – just start, it is that easy!
- You used to do other athletic activities, but are looking for a low-impact exercise - Power walking can reduce the force on your body “by half," when compared to running.
How to Power Walk for “Real” Exercise:
- Invest in good shoes - Athletic shoes made for walking and hiking, with a comfortable fit that’s not too tight. Old, tight or uncomfortable shoes will mean pain, which will result in a slower pace and less exercise. Replace shoes when they become too worn to support your feet well; regularly check the outsole (bottom) for wear and the sides and top for any tears.
- Practice warm up, walk, cool down, stretch - “Warm up and cool down” should be about 5 minutes of walking at a slower pace. Stretch your legs and upper body post-walk to keep muscles flexible.
- Use good form - Power walkers should walk holding their backs straight, looking straight ahead (not down) and hold their abs and butt tight (increases the workout). For added calorie burn, hold arms bent at the elbow and swing your fists.
- Set your pace right - The key to walking for exercise is the word “power” – this means you aren’t walking at a slow window shopping stroll; instead you are moving at an athletic gait and pace. Brisk walking is typically considered 3 to 5 mph (miles per hour), and power walking at 5 mph or higher. If you are just starting out, you can set your pace lower and build up to a faster pace. There are many online pace calculators that can help you convert miles and time into your pace, or if you have a GPS enabled phone, there are apps that can also track it – check out MapMyWalk.
- Set a frequent schedule - This will vary based on how you are using power walking. If walking is to be your main form of exercise, research shows that you need to power walk 30 minutes, six times a week. If you are mixing power walking in with other forms of exercise, then the frequency will be less, depending on what else you are doing. The key is that you are getting 30 mins of exercise most days of the week.
Maximizing Your Weight Loss Benefits from Power Walking:
Over time, your body gets used to specific exercise routines and/or routes which results in burning fewer calories. So, to maximize the exercise and weight loss benefits of power walking you should:
- Mix up your pace - Staying within the ranges of moderate to power walking, slow down and increase speed for a few minutes within your routine.
- Mix up your route - Add hills, go off-road or find 2 to 3 routes you can switch between.
- Add weights - Hand weights, or a weighted vest, or use walking poles.
Other Power Walking Benefits:
Beyond exercise and weight loss, there are many benefits of walking. Studies have linked regular walking to disease prevention and to living longer. One study by Stanford University even found that walking increases creativity during and after the activity.