Beginner’s Guide To Power Walking

Beginner Guides, Fitness, Walking Workouts

By: // March 23, 2021

If you haven’t pursued the world of walking, or more specifically power walking, it might just be your time. With countless studies proving its effectiveness in benefitting your health, learning how to power walk will keep you moving well into your future.

Use these links to quickly navigate this guide:

Benefits of Power Walking

Middle aged couple power walking outdoors

Here’s why brisk walking is such an effective health and fitness routine:

  1. Low Impact: Power walking gives you a great heart rate boost without wreaking havoc on your joints and connective tissue. This means you are less likely to have either acute or chronic injury from wear and tear that comes with time.
  2. Calorie Burn: Depending on the speed, a power walk can burn anywhere from 200 to 400 calories per hour or more.
  3. Heart Health: It’s a great cardiovascular exercise working the heart and lungs.
  4. Anytime, Anywhere: No equipment or special outfit is needed to walk! That means you can do it nearly anytime and anywhere. Obviously comfortable clothes and good shoes are important.
  5. Suitable For Everyone: Obvious injuries or illnesses aside, walking is great for all ages, genders, sizes, and fitness levels. You choose your terrain and your speed based on what you are capable of, but nearly anyone can head out for a power walk.
  6. Decreased Disease and Illness: Studies show that power walking can help decrease your risk of multiple maladies. Harvard Medical School says that walking improves cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress, just to name a few!  Research also found walking can help reduce your risk of dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction!

Related: 8 Essential Stretches For Walkers

How to Power Walk

Let’s talk about the proper power walking technique.

  1. Warm-Up: Proper warm-up is crucial for all types of exercise including walking. Begin slowly. Walk for a few minutes and then consider some active stretches such as 10 walking lunges and 10 hip circles. Studies show that a proper warm-up helps prevent injury.
  2. Remember Moderation. Walking too far too quickly will lead to increased risk of injury and soreness. If you are new to power walking, shoot for 15-20 minutes or less on your first endeavor. Do this for the first few times out. After a week of regular walking, increase your time to 20-25 minutes. After a couple of weeks, you will be up to a solid 30-minute walk.
  3. Start Slowly. Just as walking too far your first time out can lead to injury or soreness, so can walking too fast. Make sure your first walk is moderate in pace. A good way to judge? Walk with a buddy and carry on a conversation. If you can talk the entire time, you’re probably at a good pace.
  4. Stretch At The End: If you only have 30 minutes to for a brisk walking workout, plan a 25-minute walk and save 5 minutes to stretch at the end. Stretching your calves, glutes, hamstrings, quads and hips will help prevent soreness and keep you free from common walking injuries.

Best Shoes for Power Walking

Close-up of woman tying tennis shoes outside

Proper footwear will be your best friend as you start a new power walking program. Don’t just grab any running shoes off the shelf or from the back of your closet.

You want to find something that is not only comfortable and cushioned but also supportive for your foot structure. Your foot might roll inward or outward as you walk, so the support in the shoe should match that.

Power Walking Shoe Tip: Be sure there is at least a thumbs width of space between your toes and the front of the shoe.

Power Walking Vs. Jogging

A common question about power walking is whether it can rival its next closest competitor – jogging.

Both jogging and power walking are great forms of exercise, but the benefit of choosing walking over running is pretty significant, namely: longevity.

Unlike running, walking is low impact.

Running exhibits twice as much force on your body every time you land. This means more injury and more likelihood that you’ll have joint issues in your knees, hips or back.

Walking will provide longevity to your exercise life and keep you moving well into your later years!

The more wear and tear you exert on your body, the more likely you are to aggravate joints and cause pain down the road.

Power Walking For Weight Loss

Speaking of burning calories, power walking is great for weight loss. Power walking can burn up to 200 or more calories per 30-minute walk. That’s a great calorie burn for weight loss efforts.

The key to walking for weight loss is to walk fast. Walk like you are in an airport and late for a flight. Be in a hurry.

How fast should you walk?

Power Walking Miles Per Hour 

Woman with hat looking at fitness watch

According to a study by Washington University in St. Louis, walking at 4.5 miles per hour can burn around 200 calories for an average 140-pound woman.

On the other hand, walking too slowly might only net you 100 calories or less for 30 minutes. Keep your intensity up.

Most fitness watches or trackers will tell you how far and how fast you are walking. This can be an invaluable tool to help you.

However, to track your pace on your own, measure a one-mile course using your car. Now walk that same course and time yourself. Here are your results:

20 minutes- 3 mph (this is a good starting pace)

15 minutes – 4 mph (this is a solid fast walk)

13 minutes – 4.5 mph (this is a challenging power walk)

12 minutes – 5 mph (this is pretty fast for almost anyone)

Remember that you are going to make progress. Don’t be discouraged if you have a slower pace to begin you’ll still get the benefits. Just use that pace and stay consistent with your walks.

Proper Power Walking Technique 

Power walking recruits all kinds of muscles in your body. In order to prevent overuse injuries or poor form hazards, here are some good power walking form tips for you to follow.

  1. Good Posture: Stand tall. Pull your tummy in like you are zipping up tight jeans. Keep your head up and shoulders pulled back but relaxed. Lift your chest. 
  2. Use Your Arms: Good arm motion will help you burn 5-10% more calories. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and keep elbows pulled in close to your body. Pump your arms straight forward, not diagonally, and be sure they stay low, not going past your breastbone. Make fists, but relaxed not tight.
  3. Foot Motion: Your footsteps should be a heel-to-toe motion. Your heel hits first then your foot rolls through your toe.
  4. Keep Your Strides Natural. Don’t try to speed up by taking giant steps or an unnaturally long stride. Instead, lengthen your stride by your back foot by keeping that foot on the ground longer and giving you a more powerful stride forward. Don’t overthink it.

Try our Power Walking Workout Video To Tone Every Zone! Get Healthy U TV workout video with play button

photo of black athletic shoes

Power Walking Tips

Here are some other helpful tips to keep in mind as you learn how to power walk:

  1. Choose Comfy Clothes: This one probably seems obvious, but the more appropriate the clothing the more comfortable you will be. And the more comfortable you are, the longer you will last.Choose not only based on the temperature you are walking in, but the fabric of the clothing as well. Moisture-wicking fabrics designed for exercise will help your temperature stay regulated as well as stave off chafing under your arms or between your legs.

    And don’t forget to dress in layers. Walking movement warms you up quickly so having a layer to shed is a good idea.

  2. Make A Plan: Don’t just open the door and go or hop on the treadmill without knowing what your intentions are.Whether you set a timer on your watch or plan a route on which you know the distance, be smart about your walk.

    Monday might be your 30-minute power walk. Tuesday you might choose to do interval walking to the park and back. Maybe you’ll be mall walking this weekend. Goals help you progress.

  3. Follow Good Walking Form: Walking uses more than just your legs. Keep your shoulders back and chest lifted to avoid hunching forward. Pull your abs in as you walk and keep good posture. Leave your arms free from clutter so that you are able to swing them next to your side.
  4. Find a Walking Buddy. There’s nothing like a friend waiting on the corner to keep us accountable.Walking buddies can encourage one another and keep each other going. In addition, a walking buddy gives you incentive to go farther and make the whole workout more pleasurable.

    We love meeting a friend during the winter months for a mall walking session. Sometimes we even grab a healthy snack or smoothie after!

  5. Track Your Progress. Whether you use a fitness app, smartwatch or other fitness trackers or go the old-fashioned route and write it on your calendar, it is important to track your progress. Not only does this help you increase your pace and mileage, but it also motivates you as you see how much better you’re getting! Aim for four to six power walks a week.Beginners should strive to stride for 20 to 30 minutes. More experienced walkers can step it up to 45- or even 60-minute sessions (when time allows). Remember the tip about starting slowly! A good rule of thumb is to gradually increase your walks by 10% each week. So if you start with 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week, you’re walking 80 minutes a week. This means you would add 8 minutes to your next week. Remember that your workout time includes a few minutes to warm up and a few minutes to cool down and stretch.

READ THIS NEXT: How To Regain Flexibility Over 50

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