A nation of mostly sedentary office workers, we’re moving and exercising less and less. When we do try to start an exercise routine, we often choose something trendy, expensive, or so difficult that it’s unsustainable.
However, you don’t have to twist into a pretzel, dance like a ballerina, or do hundreds of burpees to get in shape. You also don’t need a gym. Some of the most efficient forms of exercise are also the simplest, like going for a brisk walk, or ‘power walking.’
Power walking has been shown by numerous scientific studies to aid in weight loss and improve one’s overall health. One study performed at the University of Pittsburgh found that overweight people who engaged in power walking for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost weight—even though they didn’t change any other habits.
Plus, the benefits of this exercise go beyond weight loss. In 2013, researchers at the University of Colorado showed that regular walking could help prevent peripheral artery disease, a condition that damages blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain. Also, those who walk every day have even been shown to have 25 percent fewer colds than those who are sedentary.
Convinced? Here’s how to get started:
If you’re new to power walking, you don’t want to let sore, crampy, blistered feet put an end to your exercise routine! So, the first thing you’ll need, of course, is a good pair of walking shoes. Try to find a pair that’s flexible, light, comfortable, and roomy—there should be a thumb’s width of space between the top of your big toe and the front of your shoe.
Once you have the gear, it’s time to learn the technique. This is not a stroll on the beach—nor is it quite a jog. Power walking requires its own method and movements.
As you’re walking, remember:
Keep your strides short. When you want to go fast, it’s tempting to lengthen your strides, but this will actually tire you out quicker than short, brisk steps will. Try to keep your strides short, quick, and purposeful.
Step from heel to toe. As you’re walking, focus on landing your weight on your heels, rolling forward across your instep and the ball of your foot, and then using your toes to propel yourself forward into the next step.
Bend and swing your arms. Rather than letting your arms dangle limply beside you, keep them bent at a 90 degree angle and swing them so your wrists are moving from waist to chest—making sure to keep your arms tucked in close to your body. This will allow you to walk faster and burn more calories.
Tighten your core and butt. Engage your abs and tighten your butt muscles as you walk. Keeping your abs engaged will give you good posture and support your spine as you walk, while tightening your glutes will give your stride more power.
Almost jog. A good marker that you’re walking fast enough is that you feel that you can’t go any quicker without breaking into a jog. Try to maintain this speed, or if that’s too tiring at the beginning, alternate between 5 minutes at a brisk pace and 5 minutes at a more relaxed pace.
Power walking is a fantastic exercise choice for those who are looking for something free, want to avoid the gym, are new to exercise, love to explore—or have a dog that needs walking!
For the most health and weight loss benefits, try to work up to power walking for 60 minutes, 4 times per week.
-The Alternative Daily