Power walking – how can you benefit from it?

When people mention power walking, it’s common to visualise the distinctive ‘wiggle’ of the racewalkers completing a 20km or 50km event in the Olympics. In some respects, if you visualised this you wouldn’t be too far off the mark (although some racewalkers would strongly disagree with you!)

Racewalking is a competitive style of walking that is highly technical, and a lot of research and effort goes into training and perfecting the correct technique.

Power walking on the other hand, is when you walk faster than normal, with an element of focus on your posture and technique (exaggerated arm movements and stride length) but you don’t do it competitively. Most people engage in power walking to stay fit, not to compete.

It’s probably best to describe power walking as ‘intense walking’ that is faster than your standard walking pace, but slower than jogging – with one foot always remaining on the ground.

What is a typical power walking speed?

Most people consider a good power walking speed to be around 4.0 to 5.5 mph, but this may vary depending on your weight and fitness level.

The important thing is that you walk with more power and pace than usual, and swing your arms more vigorously than usual to get the most out of the exercise.

What clothing or equipment do I need for power walking?

The good news is that power walking is an activity that doesn’t need a huge amount of investment in clothing or equipment – but there are a few things you’ll want to take into account.

With the proper power walking technique, the movement of the foot is different to when you’re running, so highly cushioned running shoes might not be ideal for power walking.

Instead, you’re best to look for stability in a shoe, with enough flexibility for the transition between your heel and toe as you move your body forward.

Some good shoes for power walking and race walking can be found at Decathlon.

In addition to the right shoes, you’ll also need clothing that will allow you to move freely and easily – ideally something breathable and lightweight.

It’s not a bad idea to wear what you might usually consider wearing for physical activity such as jogging.

It’s important not to underestimate how much you’re going to perspire compared to regular walking – we wouldn’t recommend attempting to power walk in heavy everyday clothing such as jeans and a hoodie. It’s likely to get very uncomfortable!

Is power walking effective for weight loss?

Power walking is an excellent way to improve your overall fitness level, and one of the main health benefits of power walking is that it can be an excellent way to lose weight.

There are a lot of factors to take into account such as body weight, fitness level, and any incline on the route you’re walking, but it is estimated that an hour of power walking can burn anywhere between 300 and 600 calories.

There was actually a study completed by Dr Grace Lordan, a specialist in health economics at LSE that found that brisk walking was potentially more effective at reducing weight than doing more vigorous activity.

“Given the obesity epidemic and the fact that a large proportion of people in the UK are inactive, recommending that people walk briskly more often is a cheap and easy policy option”.

Which muscles does power walking work?

Power walking works a surprising number of muscles across both your lower body and upper body.

Some of the muscles used in your lower body include your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

The abdominal muscles are used for stabilisation, and your arm and shoulder muscles are also used quite extensively during exaggerated arm motions when power walking.

Some experienced power walkers incorporate weights on their ankles and their wrists to help train their muscles further, and increase their calorie burn.

Are there any other health benefits of power walking?

Walking of any kind has been shown to be beneficial for mental health, but power walking in particular can have some great benefits.

Aerobic exercise such as power walking has been shown to release endorphins – the ‘happy hormone’ that helps to improve mood and reduce stress. So if you’re feeling a bit down, a power walk could be a great way to lift your spirits.

Power walking is also an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, which can in turn help to reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

What are the best power walking tips and best techniques for power walking?

If you’re serious about getting the optimum benefit as a power walker, learning how to power walk with the proper technique is important.

Here are some tips to help you improve your power walking technique and get the most out of your walks:

  • It’s important to have a good posture. Try to keep your shoulders back and your head up, looking forwards so you walk straight.
  • Relax your shoulders and neck.
  • Slightly tighten your stomach muscles to engage your core.
  • Walk with purpose. Try to keep a continuous brisk pace and focus on moving forward. This will help you get the most out of your walk.
  • Swing your arms gently. Adding arm motion will help you walk faster – but don’t overdo it. Over-exaggerated movements could actually slow you down.

If you’re new to power walking, remember to take breaks as needed. If you start to feel tired, take a few minutes to rest and catch your breath before continuing on your walk.

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