What is power walking and how to do it

Walking can be split in about 5 categories. I know that might sound awkward but it’s true. There is normal walking that we use to get from point A to B, walking for exercise, power walking, race walking and walking meditation.

Any of those can have their own separate post but now we’ll focus on power walking and its benefits.

WHAT IS POWER WALKING

Power walking or speed walking takes place when we walk at the upper end of our natural range. This usually happens at speeds around 7-9 km/h (4-6mph).

The difference between power walking and running is defined by having at least one foot on the ground at all times. Power walking is still waking. This means there has to be a period of double-support when the body vaults over the stiff limb with each step.

WHY IS POWER WALKING BETTER THAN RUNNING

Walking has significantly less impact to the joints. It’s as simple as that.

It does depend on the way you jog but at the upper range walking and jogging are almost equally efficient. Therefore if you have a knee injury or you weaker joints and don’t feel comfortable running, just go power walking instead.

It’s also a great alternative for people who are getting back in shape but are not ready to run on a regular basis. In this case, when regular walking is not enough, power walking becomes the best solution.

POWER WALKING AND RACE WALKING

Sometimes there is a slight confusion between the two. Race walking is the same thing as power walking but performed in an organised environment.

Power/speed walking is used for training while race walking is a competitive discipline that has specific rules.

Fit-walking is also a common term people get confused about. Just to keep it simple fit-walking is the same as power walking but both feet can raise from the ground at any time. It’s not running because the speed is still within the power walking range and it’s also a favoured exercise for injury prevention.

HOW TO DO POWER WALKING

1 – Like any other walking activity it starts with the shoes. Be sure to have a well-fitting shoe that is comfy and obviously not too old (if you walk on a regular basis you should replace them every 6 months).

I can’t stress this enough. If you fail to do it right, instead of focusing on walking you’ll only dream about getting home faster.

Invest in what makes up 90% of your walking activity. It’s definitely worth it.

2 – set a goal and stick with it. If you’re only just starting, even getting into the habit is a plus. Plan to walk anywhere between 5-20 min. Do it everyday until it becomes part of your routine.

After a while, usually 30 days or sooner, you should be able to walk 30 minutes on a regular basis. Once you get more advanced, take it up to 45-60 minutes per sessions.

3 – before any type of exercise don’t forget to warm up. If it’s power walking, a simple 5-10 min. regular walking session should be enough. If you haven’t exercised in a while it would be great to do some stretches before anything.

4 – Stand tall and keep your head up, shoulders relaxed and stomach in. This is how we are built but unfortunately with time, we ruin our postures. Therefore if we are ready to exercise it’s best to get back to basis and correct our body shape while moving.

5 – Keep your arms at a 90 degree angle. This is power walking so similar to running, you will need your hands to help you move forward. Everything works together here, top to bottom and you are the one in control.

6 – If you’re not in great shape, try intervals. Instead of being driven by first-time enthusiasm and struggling for 20 min, you’ll be better off doing whatever feels comfortable.

Image: Kevin Dodge/Corbis

At first walk your 20 min at regular speed and with time take that to 45-60 min. If at one point you feel you want more, add in some other moves. You can walk faster for 5min and normal for 10min. Walking on grass or gravel also intensifies the workout. Go on the side for 5min and then back on the asphalt for another 10min. Alternate as you progress but do it slowly.

CONCLUSION

Consistency is key here. Whatever you choose to do and regardless the level you are at, walk on a regular basis. Keep your sessions similar in length and enjoy them. This is very important because otherwise you’ll quit and that’s definitely not a desirable goal.