You can achieve your fitness goals and lose inches with power walking. It is far gentler on the joints than jogging or running, as when your foot hits the ground the impact is halved, so you won’t incur any long term injuries which could put you out of the game for a while. It is recommended by doctors worldwide and some of the top movie stars are hooked on it. Don’t confuse this with race walking.
THE RIGHT GEAR
The start-up cost for power or fitness walking is minimal. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes, comfortable clothing and a reflective belt or reflective walking vest. When choosing your shoes, make sure they are flexible, light and comfortable and that there is sufficient room between your toes and the front of the shoe. Don’t forget the water. Once you are kitted out, you can begin to enjoy the benefits. If you want to splash out, then invest in a pedometer and plan to take 10,000 steps a day, gradually increasing this to 16,000.
BEGIN YOUR ROUTINE
1. Firstly, there is no need to feel self-conscious when power walking. You don’t need to do the ‘Olympic wiggle’ but you do need to swing those arms. Bend your arms to somewhere in between a 90 degree and 75 degree angle and swing your arms from front to back, making sure that they do not cross your body. Don’t lift your elbows higher than your breast bone. Make a loose fist with your hands. People who walk with their hands by their sides frequently end up with swollen hands. Not only does this movement prevent that but it also gives you a good upper body workout and helps get rid of those flabby arms.
2. Stand up straight and tall, head up and look around 10 to 20 feet ( 3 to 7 meters) in front of you. Keep your shoulders down and back and keep them relaxed to avoid tension in the back.
3. Tighten your abs and buttocks and tilt your pelvis forward – as you would in Callanetics, yoga or Pilates.
4. If you want to walk faster, then take faster steps, DON’T elongate your stride.
5. Push off with your toes, land on your heel and roll through your instep. Keep your steps narrow, so that you are basically putting one foot in front of the other.
6. Breathe. You want your heart rate to increase, so it’s fine to increase your breathing rate, but you don’t want to get out of breath.
7. Keep hydrated.
WHAT SPEED SHOULD YOU WALK AT?
Most people power walk at between 3 and 5 miles per hour, which is around the same as the speed used for jogging. However, the calories which you burn by power walking and similar to those burnt by running rather than jogging. For maximum weight loss, it is suggested that you walk at 4.5 mph. A woman weighing 140 lbs (63.5 kgs) will burn around 200 calories in 30 minutes at this speed. If you can’t keep at that speed for the whole of your walk, then walk at a slower speed for 2 minutes and speed up for 2 minutes until your fitness level has improved. As you finish your power walk, slow the pace down for five minutes to act as a cool down period and don’t forget to stretch after your walk. It is recommended that you walk 3 to 4 times a week for between 30 and 45 minutes. You will start seeing results after two weeks, if not sooner. One study showed that by walking at 4.5 mph, four times a week for 45 minutes, subjects lost 18 lbs (8.2 kgs) without changing their diet at all!
Any exercise which increases the heart rate has a positive effect on your health. Power walking can help raise good cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Being healthy means there is less risk of contracting diseases such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease. So, it is a win-win situation – you lose weight and glow with health.
Choose a well-lit area if you are power walking in the dark and wear a reflective vest or reflective belt to ensure you are visible to passing traffic. Go with a friend rather than walk alone and don’t walk in isolated or unsafe areas.