Power Walking That Increases Health and Fitness
“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very fast.”
Back in the 1980’s I read an article in Muscle and Fitness Magazine regarding power walking. The article had interviewed Steve Reeves (former bodybuilder and star of many Hercules movies). Steve credited walking and in particular, power walking, for his health recovery. At that time I decided to add power walking to my bodybuilding and powerlifting activities. It didn’t stress my knees and helped to ramp up my fat-burning.
Walking in History
Ever since our ancestors left the trees to begin walking, we humans have used it to hunt, move from various locations and to get to school. Walking also freed up the hands to engage in other activities. That’s only a part of walking. Somewhere around 8,000 – 10,000 BC, Native American’s made sandals to walk on. It seems that since those early days, walking has always been the more popular form of exercise. In the 1990’s it certainly was.
While historically walking has always been a part of mankind’s normal activities, lately we’ve seen less of it and more sitting. More people have spent their money to buy gym memberships, fitness devices and magic pills to help them lose weight. Yet, walking is the lowest cost form of exercise that one can do.
I mentioned that Steve Reeves use to power walk. If you’re already engaged in a walking routine, then power walking is the next logical step. Before we go there, the discussion of exercise intensity is important. While walking is fine and dandy, it’s the intensity and stride length that counts.
How many of you have seen older people walk really slow or shuffle (trying to walk)?
You can tell one’s true age by their walking speed and the length of their strides. I’ve seen younger people walk really slow and older people go super fast. The youthfulness is in how fast each age group is going, not in their chronological age.
If you’re walking at a slow pace right now, then start increasing your intensity in intervals. A moderate intensity walk is about 100 steps per minute. By going for one minute at 100 steps and then decreasing back to your normal walk for 2 minutes, eventually you’ll get to a straight 30 minutes of moderate intensity.
After a week of 1 minute at 100 steps and 2 minutes at the normal stepping, lessen the normal steps to 1 minute. After 30 minutes you’ll be at 15 minutes of moderate intensity and 15 minutes at your normal pace. The 3rd week go at 1 minute of moderate intensity and 30 seconds of your normal pace. The 4th week is all 30 minutes at the moderate intensity pace.
Power walking is simply increasing the pace and intensity of walking a bit more than moderate intensity. Some people will even use hand weights while swinging their arms. This adds more intensity to the upper body. How fast you swing your arms will dictate how fast you move your legs. The way it looks is more like a walk with determination to get somewhere. The power-walker is usually focused.
For those of you that used to run and can’t anymore due to knee pain and injuries, power walking is a better alternative. You’ll burn more calories over a 24-hour period versus regular intensity walks at the same distance. And you’ll cover the distance faster too, which means less time needed to complete your workout.
Use a pedometer to help keep track of the steps you take
You can also do power walks for the same time of 30 minutes and increase the amount of calories you burn. I would not suggest going longer than 30 minutes. Just as before when you ramped up to moderate intensity walks from lower intensity walks, do the same here. Go from moderate intensity to power walks in intervals until you’re able to do them for a full 30 minutes in the 4th week.
I love to walk and will always keep as part of my overall fitness routine. While I still engage in other types of fitness training, walking will always be there for me. And it’ll take me to the store where I can leave the car behind at home. Along the way I get to meet some interesting people, see some interesting sights and simply enjoy each moment. So can you.