Something as simple as walking every day can have impressive health benefits. Better circulation, muscle tone, and stability. Deeper breathing, deeper sleep, and a greater appetite for healthier food. Walking increases your immune system and your lifespan. Just taking a slow stroll around the neighborhood has many of these benefits, but those benefits multiply if you can get yourself up to a brisk walk instead. So it should come as no surprise that power walking, the art of moving your whole body at a brisk walking pace, is the best of all for gaining health and life quality benefits from your regular daily walk.
Power walking is one of the most exhilarating ways to get into a cardio heart rate without putting stress on your joints.
What Exactly is Power Walking?
Power walking optimizes your exercise from walking without actually breaking into a jog. It’s walking that gets your whole body involved as you pick up speed. You will find yourself naturally swinging your arms and tensing your core and legs in order to better pick up speed while maintaining a healthy walking gait. Many people optimize this natural speed-walking gait by intentionally tensing targeted muscles and emphasizing the movements like arm swinging to increase both calorie burn and muscle toning.
Use your daily walking as a form of more intense exercise while still keeping you within the safe low-impact category of activity.
Insights for First-Time Power Walkers
- Start with short power walks and stroll when you get tired
- Practice tensing specific muscles like your arms, your core, or your posterior while power walking
- You might want more athletic shoes for power walking than you use for leisurely walks
- Be prepared to sweat, power walking is surprisingly intense
- Power walk with friends or a podcast to help the time and exercise fly by
- You will be hungry when you get home
What are the Health Benefits of Power Walking over Normal Walking?
A normal leisurely or even purposeful walk is good for your heart and health. But power walking kicks that walk (and the benefits) into high-gear.
Someone power walking is more likely to get into a cardio heart rate and gain all the wonderful calorie burn and cardiovascular benefits from that. As we mentioned, it also gets a lot more muscles involved. After a week of dedicated power walking, you may start to notice your muscles toning more quickly. You may gain the benefits of greater stability and everyday strength as you train your body to reinforce those stabilizer muscles used during an intensive full-body walk.
Power walking is also much more effective for weight loss or weight control if that is something that matters to your current health plan. A good power walk burns calories fast and you will find yourself with a healthy appetite for foods that will fuel your new muscle growth like lean meats and salads rather than carbs and sugars.
Form: Am I Power Walking Right?
Power walking the right way often depends on what feels good to you, but we can offer a few pointers.
Never become airborne. You can jog if you want to, but a power walker always has at least one foot firmly on the ground. This is still officially a low-impact exercise.
Your hips, knees, and ankles should still be aligned, just as they would be with a good walking form. Pain in one hip, knee or one side of your body will tell you if your gait isn’t quite balanced.
Tense your arms on purpose to gain more benefit, but pump them for speed and balance. Let your arms swing naturally, don’t pump them in any way that feels awkward. But if you want a little extra toning or calorie burn, you can lift your arms higher or even start doing “rah rahs” into the air if it makes you happy. Emulate small-weight exercises but do not actually use weights that can’t be put down when your arms get tired.
Contact Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation 570-208-2787 or email me at email@example.com for more information about how power walking can make your walks more intense and how physical therapy can help.
Written by Dr Jesse Yurko DPT