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.