Finding the right type of exercise activity can be tough. Going to the gym not only demands a fair amount of time, but it also requires equipment. Other forms of exercise may help you lose some extra pounds. But keeping muscle mass while selectively losing fat often poses a problem as well. Ideally, an activity should improve your cardiovascular health, help you maintain a healthy weight, and be easy to do. As it turns out, there is one great option that can accomplish all three of these…intense power walking.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge recently discovered how power walking can be good for your health. In their study, they collected fitness tracker data from nearly 100,000 people over a three-year period. Based on their analysis, individuals who added high intensity intervals of power walking to their routines faired better. In fact, simply adding two minutes of more intense walking to a 35-minute walk reduced early death by 21 percent. And even greater reductions in early death were seen with longer high intensity intervals.
Power Walking in a Nutshell
Like the name sounds, power walking represents a more intense stride than everyday walking. The focus of this activity is on posture, arm swing, the number of steps you take, and of course, speed. Regarding a healthy posture, power walking encourages an upright position with a gentle yet slightly exaggerated arm swing. As you the walk, you focus on swaying your arms and landing on your heels as you move ahead. This approach is what facilitates your ability to protect your joints and spine while burning a significant number of calories.
With a correct posture and movement, you next focus on stride and speed. Shorter steps are actually better than longer ones. In other words, steps on your fitness tracker matter! Try to accelerate your movements by taking shorter steps. This will help you better achieve high intensity intervals of activity that boosts weight loss and wellness. And try to cover some distance. While even short periods of power walking are great for your well-being, longer distances have greater impacts. Notably, this was confirmed by this most recent study.
High Intensity Intervals vs. Power Walking
Understanding the basics of power walking, you can choose to perform this activity almost anywhere. You may decide to power walk between your office and car or when running an errand. You may also incorporate this into other activities like walking the dog. You’ll not only enjoy better fitness but so will your pooch! In essence, short bursts of power walking are beneficial and should be considered throughout your day. These basically provide a form of high intensity intervals that have also been shown to boost health.
You have probably heard a great deal about high intensity intervals training (HIIT). HIIT is any activity that alternates a burst of intense activity with periods of rest or less intense movement. And guess what? Power walking can be performed as a type of HIIT. By alternating regular walking with high intense intervals of power walking, you gain the same benefits as other HIIT activities. Many people choose the Tabata method when adding high intensity intervals to their regimen. The Tabata method simply alternatives 20 seconds of intense activity with 10 seconds of rest or easy walking. Like power walking, you can choose to incorporate the Tabata method into your normal daily walks. Though your endurance might not be great at first, you’ll soon see your endurance and walking distance increase substantially.
The Many Benefits of Power Walking
Notably, the research study demonstrated that power walking significantly reduces your chance of early death. But at the same time, this easy-to-perform activity has many other health benefits. For example, high intensity intervals are known to increase your metabolic rate by boosting human growth hormone. Performing power walking in this manner can therefore improve your metabolism and facilitate weight loss. At the same time, power walking and HIIT selectively burn fat while maintaining muscle mass. This, plus being healthy for your joints, make this activity ideal as you get older.
Power walking has many other health advantages as well. Studies have shown that intense walking lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. It also improves your body’s ability to use oxygen. All of these benefits serve to improve cardiovascular health. Also, power walking is linked to better blood sugar control and reduced cellular aging. The high intensity intervals stimulate the production of proteins known to slow the aging process. And regular power walking is great for your mood and mental well-being. Given these advantages, it’s not surprising that power walking has become a popular form of exercise.
How to Get Started in Power Walking
With power walking, there isn’t any need for any specialized fitness equipment. In fact, other than some good walking shoes, this activity can be performed almost anywhere and anytime. Certainly, you’ll want some comfortable, well-fitted walking shoes that have good heel and arch support. Likewise, you may want to consider a fitness tracker to monitor your steps and exercise achievements. Keeping track of your progress can be a great motivational tool. With these few items, it’s easy to include power walking into your daily routine.
To get the most out of this activity, high intensity intervals should be considered as part of your regimen. Your initial high intensity intervals should be challenging, and the Tabata method offers a good basic technique that you can follow. Start slow at first, and then gradually build in both intensity and duration as tolerated. And of course, check with your doctor if there are any questions or health concerns. Fortunately, power walking is an activity most people can perform with little difficulty. And combined with high intensity intervals, research suggests you’ll likely be able to keep power walking for years to come.
For a more in-depth discussion on the Pillar of Health, check out Ed Kopko’s book, PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success!