As a runner, walking was always something I resorted to only if I was injured or recovering from an illness. But after giving my joints a good pounding over the years, I was willing to try power walking. It’s not the same as running, but better on your knees.
Speed walking, race walking, or power walking, however you label it, isn’t a gentle stroll. It’s walking at the fastest pace you can, which is typically between 4.5 and 5.5 miles an hour. You hit the ground with less than half of the force that you would if you were running. Studies have shown that at this pace you burn about as many calories as someone who is running at about the same speed.
Power walking may be looked down upon by the hard core runner, but it actually is an Olympic sport and has been since 1906. In Olympic race walking, the front foot must be on the ground when the back foot is raised. And the front leg must straighten when making contact with the ground.
If you’re not headed to the Olympics, but still want to get a good power walk in, you can be less formal about your style. But one thing that’s important is using your arms to give you more power and speed.
Having flexible, but lightweight shoes will help you pick up your pace.
Swing your arms in an arc from your waist to your chest while keeping them close to the body. You’ll also build upper body strength by doing this.
Keep your head held high and your stomach tucked in. This helps support your spine and keeps your posture in line.
If you know your current walking heart rate you can use it as a guide to help you set goals and improve your walking speed.
It may take some getting used to if you are used to running, but it’s a great alternative, and is probably a good idea to try every so often.