Why Power Walking Is an Underestimated Part of Health
It has the power to improve your mood and creativity!
Even if not done intentionally, it’s likely that you’ve power walked at some point in your life. Whether it was to catch a bus before it pulled away or to reach an elevator before it closed, power walking is a natural way of walking more expediently.
Power walking isn’t just walking quickly. When done with intention, power walking incorporates arm movements along with quick strides. Consistent power walking is also associated with a host of health benefits, from improved joint and cardiovascular health to better emotional health and well being.
The best part about power walking? It can be done almost anywhere – whether you’re getting a quick stint in walking through a parking lot to your destination, at a local park or even around your own neighborhood.
In this article, we’ll explore what power walking is, how to do it correctly, how power walking benefits your health and tips for how to get started.
How to Power Walk
Power walking is essentially what it sounds like – walking at a swift pace. However, there are some posture precautions and techniques to consider incorporating to get the most out of your next power walk.
Pay attention to posture
Power walking is best performed with proper posture and form. This includes keeping your eyes focused straight ahead with your head upright. Pay attention to your shoulder placement as well. Keep shoulders rolled back and maintain core engagement by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.
During the duration of your power walk, pay attention to how your neck and shoulders feel. If you notice tension or discomfort, release and reposition to alleviate it. Practicing proper power walking form helps improve speed and will help avoid potential injuries.
Focus pressure on the heel
Similarly to walking and running, your heel should absorb the pressure of each step rather than your full foot or toe. Ensure you’re landing heel first, then rolling through the rest of your foot during each step.
Move your arms
When done properly, power walking benefits your upper body as well. Keep each arm positioned at a 90-degree angle, swinging back and forth so that the opposite arm is in front of your leading leg. For example, your left arm should be swinging forward when stepping with your right foot.
Use short strides
A proper power walking pace should feel more challenging than walking. While the right pace for a brisk power walk can vary from person to person, tracking your steps per minute using an app or heart rate monitor device can be a great place to start.
How is power walking different from regular walking?
There are similarities between the muscle groups that power walking and regular walking engage. Quads, calf muscles, hamstrings and hip abductors are all engaged during both regular walking and power walking. While regular walking is mostly a lower body workout used to burn calories, power walking takes this a step further by engaging your upper body as well. When done properly, the shoulders, upper back and core are all being toned during a power walk.
The Benefits of Power Walking
Improved cardiovascular health. Power walking is performed at a higher steps per minute rate than walking, which keeps our cardiovascular system more engaged for longer.
Weight loss. Regular power walking has been correlated with weight loss, particularly in the mid-section where belly fat is stored.
Increased muscle strength. Because power walking works both your lower and upper body, power walking can increase and improve muscle strength in our back, shoulders, leg and abdominal muscles.
Decreased cancer risks. Engaging in regular physical activity such as power walking has been linked to lower risk of cancers.
Lower blood pressure. Regular power walking decreases your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Increased flexibility. The more you move, the more dexterity your limbs and joints will have. Stretching before and after a power walk can increase the benefit of flexibility as well.
Improved cognitive function. Consistent power walking has also been linked to better cognitive function, particularly in older adults.
More creativity. An interesting study from Stanford University actually found that power walking increased creative output. If you’re in need of inspiration for a new project, the creativity you need could be just a short power walk away.
Tips for Power Walking
Interested in power walking, but not sure how to get started? Here are a few power walking tips to help keep you safe and start getting into the regular habit of incorporating this exercise into your routine.
Walk with a friend. Not only is power walking more fun with a friend, it keeps you both accountable. It’s easier to skip out on a power walking workout when you’re the only one taking a walk. If you’re friendly with your neighbors, see if anyone in your area wants to commit to meeting up a few times a week to take a power walk.
If you have friends or family members who live far away from you, see if they’d be open to getting on a call during your power walk to help keep you company.
Wear proper walking gear. Just because you’re not running doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in proper shoes for the job. It’s key to ensure your body is supported during your power walk — and that starts with your shoes. The ideal power walking shoe should support your heel and arch in your foot. If you’re not sure where to start, visit your local shoe store and ask for recommendations on shoes that offer support.
Depending on the weather in your area, comfortable clothes that are breathable are key. Power walking can still break a sweat, so investing in moisture wicking clothing might be beneficial for your new power walking routine.
Stay visible. If you’re power walking at night, make sure you’re doing so in an area that’s well lit. Wear reflective clothing and don’t venture down trails where visibility is an issue – both for yourself and for cars that may be passing through. Visibility is important even when power walking during the day. Ensure the street or sidewalk you’re power walking on does not have any blind spots where motorists may not be able to see you.
Familiarize yourself with the path. Before embarking on new trails or streets, make sure you take the time to get to know the terrain. Take stock of where certain sidewalks may have cracks or uneven paving.
Power Walking Summary
When done consistently, power walking has the potential to lower risk of certain cancers, improve cardiovascular health, help with flexibility and even improve mood and creativity.
Power walking combines increased pace with strategic arm movements to offer a full body workout that’s easy to do and can be done just about anywhere.
When power walking, make sure you’re practicing proper form, are wearing supportive footwear and are aware of your surroundings to stay safe and supported.