normal to put on about 5 lbs. from the inactivity that accompanies
the winter. Power walking can be a safe, effective
way to lose those extra pounds and achieve body symmetry
and muscle tone. A brisk walk fires up your muscles
and gives metabolism a giant boost. Done correctly,
power walking is a great path to improved health and fitness.
Done incorrectly, the path can lead to set-backs and injuries.
It's a familiar sight. Walkers stride
along, taking giant steps and flailing their arms.
The misdirected energy that is spent over-striding and arm-swinging
can be better used to improve fitness. Here are some
tips to ensure you get the most from your power walk.
The first two tips are the most important:
Don't over stride. Resist the urge
to take longer steps. A stride that is too long can
throw you off your center, torque your spine, and put too
much stress on your back and legs. If
you want to go faster and increase the intensity of your
pace, take smaller, faster steps.
Don't use vigorous arm movements.
Bend your arms in slightly less than a 90 degree angle.
Cup you hands gently.
Relax your shoulders. Check frequently
to be sure you aren't hunching your shoulder muscles.
Tighten your abdominal muscles and buttocks.
Flatten your back and tilt your pelvis slightly forward.
Walk tall, look forward with your chin
level and your head up. Breathe deeply.
A walking companion can increase your
commitment to a regular walking program. If one of
you is having a weak moment, the other can encourage you
to stick with it. Good music or an interesting radio
program can also help if you don't enjoy the quiet approach.
A fast-paced walk can tone muscles in
the buttocks, thighs, hips, shoulders, upper back and abdomen.
An average speed of 12-15 minutes per mile will give you
similar benefits to running, without the stress on your
body. As with any kind of new physical activity, it's
important to start slowly and work up to a more intense
pace. That way, you'll skip the muscle soreness and
injuries that can discourage you and delay your progress.
- Pam Brooks