Basically, power walking is nothing more than walking at a brisk pace. However, it is more than just going for a walk; power walking is ideal for people who want to improve their physical condition but do not have much time, they cannot run, or do not like to, and prefer outdoor exercise, even in the winter. Find out why power walking has gained so many devotees in such a short time.
Brisk walking is a simple, safe and effective form of exercise and it is cheap. That is why it is the physical exercise for the over-forties most recommended by doctors, because it has very few counter-indications and almost anyone can do it, just as long as they keep in mind these three basic points: frequency, time and pace.
The best way to power walk is to maintain a brisk but comfortable pace, always in line with your physical condition. Three to four sessions a week is the most recommended frequency. And as for the time the training – or power walk, as we would like to call it – should take, we are talking of about 40-45 minutes to begin with, at 60% of the maximum-intensity heart rate and time, which can be increased gradually.
The benefits of brisk walking are very clear
Firstly, it reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which helps prevent heart problems, even more than running does! According to a study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, (AHA) walking – equal in terms of expenditure of energy – reduces the risk of high blood pressure by 7.2%, while running achieves a reduction of 4.2%. It also enhances the activity of insulin and reduces the risk of diabetes. All of these are benefits which significantly reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
According to a study by Harvard University, covering a little more than 4km a day is enough to reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 40%.
And what is more, it has been shown that walking in the fresh air improves the immune system, relaxes and neutralises stress – which improves our mood – and of course tones up our muscles, especially the calves, thighs and buttocks.
And if we are talking about a healthy weight, we also know that brisk walking helps burn off calories and keeps our metabolism active. We could go so far as to say that a person who gets into the habit of walking for 30 minutes a day and keeps it up for 10 years will gain 8 kilos less than a sedentary person.
Now you can see that brisk walking brings nothing but advantages. But doing it just any how is not enough…
Yes to walking, but use your head
It is certainly true that power walking carries some risks if done badly, but these are easily avoided if we listen to some simple advice:
– Use light sports shoes with resistant soles
– While walking, keep the head up looking straight ahead, with the chin parallel to the ground
– Avoid walking stiffly. The back should be straight and the shoulders relaxed
– The arms should swing rhythmically and alternately to suit the stride
– Breathe rhythmically and evenly while walking
– The feet should be parallel to and the same distance apart as the width of the shoulders
By including physical activity in the winter months as well, you will gain a lot when it comes to protecting your cardiovascular system and improving your physical and mental health. Now all you have to do is to choose a time that suits you and put it into practice. Off you go!
Sources and further information:
La cocina de la salud (Planeta)
Salud y corazón (Fundación Española del Corazón)
ATVB (Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, from AHA Journals)