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.
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?
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 i some power walking days to help build your fitness levels.
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