Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
If you are a regular walker you might consider starting power walking to increase fitness or lose weight or both or simply to change your routine by making your daily walk a little different. Power walking is an aerobic exercise which conditions the heart and lungs by increasing the intake of oxygen.
Power walking is a term used to describe fast walking. You walk at a brisk pace which is quicker than walking but slower than jogging. It is also called fitness walking, is an alternative to jogging and is easier on the joints as it is a low impact activity. You can walk faster by simply increasing your stride but this is very tiring and is not very productive in the burning of calories.
There is a special technique in power walking but it is easily learned with a little practice. Make sure you are on level ground and that you are wearing a good pair of strong, flexible walking shoes with good arch support. Donít try to power walk in hiking boots! There are two distinct movements involved in power walking, using both the arms and the legs. To get your-self in proper position to begin the walk, stand with head erect and feet together. Keep your chin parallel to the ground and look straight ahead of you. Tighten the muscles of the abdomen and bottom.
Hold your arms close to your body, fists lightly clenched and elbows bent at a ninety degree angle. Look in a mirror to ensure you are getting the right angle. Raise your arms alternately up and down no higher than shoulder height. Holding your hands up and lightly fisted like this prevents hand swelling as you walk. Do not cross your arms over your body or raise them too high. Practise this movement until you are confident that you are getting it right.
Lead off on the heel of your left leg, then roll on to the ball of the foot, toes in the air and follow through on to the heel of your right leg on to the ball of the foot repeating the movement. Walk as if you were trying to walk in a straight line placing the right heel squarely in front of the left toe and vice versa swinging your torso as you do. Practise this, keeping your feet in contact with the ground at all times.
When you can do each movement separately combine the two movements by walking and swinging your arms at the same time. Take normal length strides and walk at a determined pace. Pretend you are late for that important interview!
Your goal should be to power walk for a total of thirty minutes, three or four times a week. However start by alternating power walking and normal walking. Walk first to a count of one hundred, change to power walking for another count of one hundred. Gradually increase the power walking count and decrease the walking count over a period of weeks. Little and often will build endurance and stamina and the faster you walk the more calories you will burn
When you first try power walking you may be a little stiff next day as you are using muscles you do not normally use but this is normal and will decrease as you become fitter.
Enjoy your walking!