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What is Power Walking?

By Steve R.
Updated: Feb 15, 2024

Power walking, also referred to as speed walking, is an aerobic activity that can be done just about anywhere or anytime. An individual who participates in the activity travels at a pace that is faster than walking but slower than jogging. During power walking, an individual moves at pace of about 5 miles (about 8 kilometers) per hour.

The aerobic activity provides many benefits for walkers. Power walking helps tone and build up muscles and burn calories. It can also help to control an individual’s weight and can enhance the immune system. The activity improves physical fitness, which may help lower the risk for injury; it also lowers stress levels, and can help provide a comfortable night's sleep. Walking can also improve the cardiovascular system, which may help lower the risk for contracting diseases including stroke, diabetes, bowel cancer, osteoporosis, and arthritis

When power walking, it is important for an individual to maintain good posture. Good posture is enhanced by contracting the abdominal muscles, which also adds to strengthen stomach muscles. A proper technique includes taking small but quick strides and landing on the heels, with toes aimed at a 45-degree angle from the ground. Speed is produced by flexibility, not long strides. With each step, the walker rolls his or her feet forward and thrusts from the toes to start a new step. This thrust gives a walker more force and power.

While moving, the walker keeps his or her raised and looks straight ahead — looking down can put undue strain on many parts of the body. Techniques for power walking include maintaining relaxed shoulders and keeping the gluteal muscles contracted. With each step, the walker keeps his or her arms bent at a 90-degree angle while keeping a closed fist and making a curved motion from the waist to the chest. The walker repeats the motion while allowing his or her arms to swing, which helps to keep a brisk pace and uses more calories.

In power walking, the whole body works together. The activity is easier on the joints than jogging and typically causes fewer injuries. A beginner will often walk up to 30 minutes, while a person more advanced in the technique can engage in the activity for up to an hour.

Before beginning the aerobic activity, an individual should check with his or her doctor. A walker should also make sure he or she has comfortable fitting shoes before engaging in walking. Shoes that are light and flexible can prevent soreness and tingling in the feet and toes.

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Discussion Comments
By croydon — On Sep 16, 2013

@Ana1234 - It feels a little bit silly at first, but eventually you just feel like you're walking normally. I've found that I have sped up my walking speed even if I'm not trying to power walk, so I've probably increased the calories I burned while walking during the normal course of the day as well.

I'm hoping to eventually get into jogging though, because I don't have a huge amount of time for exercise and I'd rather make my workout as efficient as possible.

By Ana1234 — On Sep 15, 2013

@Fa5t3r - I think that a power walking system is probably very good for fitness, but I still prefer just walking at my own pace. For one thing, I feel a bit silly marching around, swinging my arms the way people do when they are power walking.

And for another, it just seems to take the enjoyment out of the walk for me. I don't walk at a very slow rate in the first place, but it is slow enough to take in the experience of the neighborhood. If you're power walking, I feel like you're only getting the exercise and not getting the mental benefits of walking with the intention of just enjoying the fresh air.

That's just my opinion, though and I certainly think that people should power walk if it works for them.

By Fa5t3r — On Sep 14, 2013

It's really important to get the right posture for this kind of walking and to wear the right shoes, because it can put a lot of stress on your knees if you do it wrong. And once you wreck your knees they are very difficult to heal again.

If you do it properly, it isn't really all that different from just walking. They say that you burn the same calories per mile no matter how you travel it, it's just that if you are power walking you cover more ground in the same period of time. So power walking for exercise is more efficient than just walking normally.

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