Have you always dreamt of becoming fitter, getting those flat tummy muscles and bursting with energy, but bored of the everyday exercise routines? Want to learn something new to lose weight? Then read on, as all you require for what I am about to tell you are your own two feet and a good pair of shoes.
Power walking, also known as speed walking, is nothing but rapid walking with one foot always on the ground accompanied by vigorous swinging of the arms. Hundreds of doctors recommend it and research studies can’t stop lauding its benefits. Experts in the field of sports and fitness have described walking as "the nearest activity to perfect exercise". You may wonder how something so simple can be so significant, but as you begin to learn more and more about your body and the benefits of power walking you will realize that it is true; the action of walking may be simple but the results for your health and daily living are far reaching.
While most of us are familiar with the benefits of jogging, power walking comes as boon to those who want to take it easy on the joints. This is because when you power walk, you hit the ground with less than half the force when you jog. Now this doesn’t mean you pick your shoes and start speed walking. This aerobic activity comes with a little practice. Its recommended you start with regular walking speed and work on your pace on a daily basis. Once you hit an average of 7-9 km/hr and a regime of 4-6 power walks a week 20-30 minutes a day, that’s when you can call yourself a pro.
Power walking not only burns calories but it also builds your upper body muscles, strengthening and firming them. It is the most natural and fundamental of all human conscious movements; it can be done by anyone and anywhere. There is no age limit, its free it and can be done anytime during the day. To get the maximum benefits, make sure you get a good pair of walking shoes. You will want to invest in some really good ones. Walking shoes that are not too heavy, are roomy, and have some give. When you bend the shoe, it should give easily at the ball of the foot, and when it is on your foot, make sure there is a thumb’s width of space from the front of the shoe to your big toe. Shoes that are too tight or firm will make it hard for you to walk comfortably for very long. As for the attire, any comfortable clothing would do. You do not need to invest in special clothes or equipment to power walk effectively.
Atul Jagdale, a freelance personal trainer rightly quotes, “Walking is the most natural thing to do – at your own pace and time. Power walking works as an icing on the cake since its very effective for weight loss. To top it you don’t spend much.”
A few tips to keep in mind when you start power walking:
1. Avoid busy streets. Look for a garden or a race course close by for this process. If you are using a treadmill, try to picture exotic locations like a beach or vast grasslands. This will keep your mind relaxed and boost you to complete your daily rounds.
2. Take short quick steps than long strides. It’s surprising how much farther you can go this way.
3. Swing your arms and close your fists in a relaxed way. This way you’d walk faster. Make sure your elbow is bend to 90 degrees.
4. Keep your posture right. Stick that tummy in and tighten your butt.
5. Breathe naturally. As you walk, take deep, rhythmic breaths, to get the maximum amount of oxygen through your system. Walk fast enough that your breathing is increased yet you are not out of breath.
6. Take short breaks if you go breathless. Adding intervals is the fastest way to get fitter.
7. To get that speed, try to think you are running late and don’t care a hoot about the onlookers.
8. Last but not least, make your walk fun. Belt a Mp3 player along to keep yourself in rhythm. If you can find a partner to hook up with, nothing like it!
So take that speedy stroll to 'switch off' and stay healthy!
This article was printed in the Oct issue of Pune City Digest Magazine