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Now that I have been walking regularly for a little while, and I have started to power walk occasionally, I wondered whether I would benefit from power walking every day? Would adopting this practice every day actually benefit my health quicker?
So, should I power walk every day? Having tried this for a couple of weeks, I have found that actually I feel better when I don’t power walk every day, but it is better to mix up my walks. Your body needs recovery days after hard exercise days, and on these days a walk that does not put your body under as much stress will benefit it more.
You don’t see your marathon running friends running 20 miles every day, day in, day out. They will usually do a really long run at the weekend, but during the week, they may fit in one half that distance, and a couple of shorter runs – possibly one that is very short but run at a fast pace, and maybe one doing some hill work. And the other days they will not run at all!
Runners know that their bodies cannot cope all out every day, and you should follow their example, even if your power walking may not be up to the sort of exertions that you imagine marathon runners have to endure. Use your head wisely and mix up your walks so that you don’t cause burnout or exhaustion.
What is your reason for power walking?
Quite often people take up exercise in an effort to lose weight, maybe they want to tone up for a beach holiday, or shed a few pounds to fit into their wedding dress. And if this is you, then that is a great reason to take up power walking too.
You don’t often hear people say they want to start exercising to clear their mind – but actually this is exactly what happens, a great benefit even if it wasn’t the original plan. And as your body and mind are so closely linked, it’s no wonder that any health benefits such as improving your fitness and losing an inch or two also greatly benefit the mind.
I started to power walk occasionally in an effort to help lose my middle aged spread. I love my longer walks at the weekend with Nicky, but I know that with work and family commitments I cannot head off for a few hours during the week. So if I only have half an hour of an evening say, then I found that turning this into a power walk session rather than a stroll was going to help me more towards my goal.
Committing to walking for fitness
In order to gain a better fitness level, we need to commit long term. Make it a life change. Like dieting, it is so easy to start a new fitness plan, eager to improve our existing fitness, but unless we commit to this we will find ourselves back in old routines that put us in the condition we started in.
But what makes us stop our well intentioned new exercise routines (or diets)? Quite often, once the initial eagerness and excitement has worn off, boredom can creep in. We have all seen friends who join a gym in January, go every couple of days for the first few weeks, maybe even months. But by the middle of the year, many much earlier, they are back to their old ways. And even worse, paying for a gym membership that they are not using!
So in order to committing to walking for fitness, you need to mix it up:
- Change your speed – power walk once or twice a week, then have other days where you go at a much steadier pace, enjoying the scenery, maybe stopping to learn something about that beautiful old building or the wood that you are walking through.
- Vary your distance – walk for a mile or two during weekdays, but when it gets to the weekend perhaps you may want to meet a friend on Saturday for a sociable 4 miles, and head into the countryside with your partner and discover somewhere with a 10 mile yomp.
- Walk in different places – it’s no good just walking round the same route around the streets of your home town, you’ll soon become bored. You need some visual stimulation too, so vary where you walk, as much as possible. If you are stuck in the same area, turn left out of your door rather than right, and see whether you can find a new circular route to give you variety.
The key to sticking to any fitness routine, or diet, is to commit to it and varying it as much as possible so that you don’t become bored. It’s no good doing the same exercises every day, if you find that you are just going through the motions – change things up to keep it exciting and making you want to do it.
How long should I power walk to lose weight?
Ok, so most of us do want to lose a bit of weight when we start walking. But how much walking is required to start shedding weight?
First of all, I have to state the obvious – if you are power walking then coming home and eating a cake, it may not be easy. You need to be sensible in your calorie intake too – burn more calories than you take in, and you are likely to find losing weight a lot easier. I know you knew this, but it is worth reminding those of us who are weak when it comes to sweet things (both my hands are fully extended in the sky here).
Ideally you will be able to walk briskly for 30 minutes every other walking day. So if you walk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, then make the Monday and Friday a power walk of at least 30 minutes, but no more than 90. Ideally you will be walking for a minimum of 2 and a half hours a week, with a large proportion of that at a brisk pace. If you have time to do more than this, then put in some miles at a steadier pace too.
What are the 5 benefits of power walking?
When it comes to staying fit and preparing for your hiking adventures, power walking might just be your secret weapon. This low-impact exercise offers numerous benefits that can enhance your overall hiking experience and keep you in optimal shape.
- Cardiovascular Health: Power walking is a great way to boost cardiovascular fitness. Engaging in brisk walking strengthens your heart and lungs, improving endurance for hikes. A strong cardiovascular system efficiently delivers oxygen and nutrients to muscles, reducing fatigue and making steep terrain feel less challenging.
- Joint-Friendly Exercise: Unlike running, power walking is low-impact, saving your joints. Hiking can strain the knees, ankles, and hips, so integrating power walking can prevent injuries. It’s perfect cross-training for hikers maintaining fitness while reducing the risk of overuse injuries.
- Muscle Conditioning: Power walking engages and strengthens key muscle groups, including legs, glutes, core, and arms. These muscles are vital for stability and balance on uneven terrain. Regular power walking improves muscle strength, enhancing trail navigation and reducing muscle fatigue.
- Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for hikers, as excess weight can make treks more challenging. Power walking burns calories, boosts metabolism, and supports overall fitness goals.
- Mental Well-being: Power walking benefits mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Engage in rhythmic movement, spend time outdoors, and immerse yourself in nature to achieve a clear and focused mind for thoughtful decision-making while hiking.
How do I put the time in?
This is interesting, as to start I didn’t log my times specifically. Everyday I walk to and from the train station and work – this is a hilly route for 10 minutes, and is done at a fair pace (I am keen to get started, and keener to get home too).
Then at lunchtimes I will walk for about 30 minutes, although not so quick. This may involve some shopping, but generally I try to avoid that and head for some green space (as much as possible in the middle of a town – even looking at local gardens helps my mood after a hard morning’s work).
In the evenings I go for a walk in my hometown on at least 3 days a week. A couple of times I will try to power walk – one of these is when I go and visit my Mum, about a mile away. So I power walk there and back, sometimes going one way but changing my route for the walk back.
Other evenings I will take a walk around the park and castle, taking in the views of the lights shining on the river. I also play bowls, so on those nights I take a short walk to the club but have been known to walk a mile just whilst playing a game of singles.
At weekends with Nicky we take Paco out for one or two local walks on the Saturday, usually 2-3 miles in the morning and 1-2 in the afternoon, followed on Sunday by a walk of between 5-12 miles on the Sunday, preferably after a drive into the countryside.
Every other weekend I am at home with my girls, and that isn’t quite so adventurous, but I try and get them to join me for a couple of miles both days. \If they don’t, I will do a quick power walk for 30-45 minutes.
As you can see from my week, I try to fit in walking around my everyday schedule. I find that this is easiest, rather than specifying an early morning walk or a long evening one after a hard day. How does your schedule look to add some walks in?
Are there any disadvantages of power walking?
Certainly, there can be some disadvantages to power walking, although they are generally outweighed by the numerous benefits. Let’s explore some potential drawbacks:
- Intensity Limitations: Power walking may not be as intense as running or high-intensity interval training, making it less effective for achieving maximum cardiovascular fitness or burning a significant number of calories.
- Limited Muscle Building: Power walking primarily targets lower body muscles and may not offer the same muscle-building benefits as resistance training or intense workouts. To build significant muscle mass, consider adding strength training exercises to your routine.
- Weather and Terrain Constraints: Power walking can be impacted by weather conditions and challenging terrains, making it less comfortable and limiting options for when and where to do it.
- Less Impact on Bone Health: Power walking, though low-impact, may not offer the same bone-strengthening benefits as higher-impact activities such as jogging or jumping. Weight-bearing exercises with a greater impact can improve long-term bone health by enhancing bone density.
- Potential Plateaus: To avoid plateauing in your exercise routine, consider increasing the intensity, duration, or variation of your power walking. This can be a challenge, but it’s necessary to keep making progress.
- Individual Fitness Levels: The effectiveness of power walking can vary based on an individual’s fitness level. For someone already highly fit, power walking might not provide a sufficient challenge. Conversely, beginners might find it demanding initially, potentially leading to discouragement.
- Monotony and Boredom: Power walking can become monotonous over time, making it less enjoyable than activities that offer more variety and excitement.
- Limited Caloric Expenditure: Power walking can aid weight management but may have a lower calorie burn than intense exercises. For effective weight loss, combine power walking with a balanced diet and other forms of exercise.
While power walking does have a few drawbacks, they can be easily tackled by incorporating it into a well-rounded fitness routine. With its accessibility, joint-friendly nature, and a multitude of health benefits, power walking is a fantastic exercise option for people of all fitness levels. Plus, it’s great for improving cardiovascular health!
It’s not necessary to power walk every day, in fact this would become too hard on your body, and may lead to boredom. So allow yourself some rest days, some easier days, some distance days, but make sure you also fit in some power walking days to help build your fitness levels.
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