WALKING may be a casual sport — it's a natural way of movement which explains why many people fail to see the value in it. And while there is no doubt that it contributes immensely to physical fitness, personal trainer and fitness expert at Hard End Fitness Factory, Ardenne Road, Gisel Harrow, says that altering your technique to a power walk offers a plethora of benefits.
“We walk an average of three kilometres per day doing day-to-day activities — and certainly we yield a lot of benefits. Power walking is used to describe a style of walking which is done at a steady, energetic pace and consists of intentional arm movements with brisk, wide footsteps,” Harrow said.
She said that brisk walking, because of its flexibility, pace and pronounced limb movements, encourages a number of benefits, apart from the obvious. It generally reduces the possibility of workout-related injuries; it's convenient because it can be done almost anywhere; and many people love that it is free.
Below, Harrow shares other benefits of switching to power walking:
It aids in stress reduction
Power walking often takes you away from the tense, stressful situations and environments of the day. You can go out and enjoy nature and release endorphins, which are hormones released naturally with exercise which result in a much calmer mental state. This can leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready, in a better position to tackle situations of challenge, and be more relaxed.
It contributes to improved health
Power walking is great for building and toning muscles as well as for bone health. Fortunately, power walking can also help with warding off serious health complications such as cardiovascular disease and stroke. It will assist with raising good cholesterol while reducing bad ones, lowering blood pressure, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Helps with weight management
Maintaining and/or managing body weight can be a challenge, but if you are committed to power walking consistently you will start noticing a change in your weight as well because of the calorie burning potential associated with this type of exercise. If you are able to pair power walking with a proper healthy diet, then the benefits to your weight loss or weight management goal will be even greater. The speed and distance of your walking workout are not as important as the time you spend walking at a brisk pace.
If you have any health issues, talk to your doctor first and find out what is a safe pace for you. Start gradually and walk only as far and as long as is comfortable.
For the best results with a brisk walk, Harrow shared a guideline below:
•Work up to at least 30 minutes of brisk walking a day.
•Warm up by walking at your normal pace for about five minutes and then pick up the pace for about 15 minutes.
•While you walk, swing your arms and maintain good posture. Take long strides, but don't strain yourself.
•Slow down at the end of your walk and do some gentle stretching.
•Every week you should try to add about five more minutes to the brisk part of your walking workout until you can get it to over 30 minutes.
“Power walking has many benefits and almost anyone can do it; but just before you do, you should consult with your primary doctor just to make sure that it will not interfere with existing health issues. In case that may happen, your doctor will help you to find a pace that is for you. A general recommendation, however, is to start by walking only as far and as long as is comfortable before you start challenging yourself,” Harrow advised.