Power walking is a simple form of exercise with numerous health benefits.
Power walking is a form of exercise that utilizes increased intensity over traditional walking. This increased intensity is achieved through active participation of the arms, a longer stride and faster pace than regular walking. The aim of power walking, also called fitness walking, is improved metabolic conditioning, not just movement. Power walking is low-cost and accessible to almost everyone and can be done almost anywhere. Even in harsh weather, options for indoor power walking are often available. The health benefits of power walking are many.
Power walking is helpful for weight loss and weight maintenance. The added arm movement alone increases energy expenditure over traditional walking by as much as 55 percent. When compared to running, energy requirements for power walking are about the same as running at a 12-minute per mile pace, but without the pounding of joints associated with running. This makes power walking appealing for anyone trying to lose weight, especially people who are overweight and who may find running too hard on the joints.
Power walking improves markers for cardiovascular health. In a study reported in the Annals of Rehabilitative Medicine, cardiac patients were recruited to follow a six-week walking program as part of their rehabilitation. Sixteen participants were prescribed power walking and 18 patients were prescribed traditional walking. The power walkers showed significant improvements in fitness as compared with those patients who followed the traditional walking program. It's worth noting that the traditional walkers also showed improvement in fitness during the six-week program; however, the increased intensity of power walkers yielded even greater results.
Longer Life and Greater Independence
Walking, especially power walking, improves overall health and supports a longer life. A study published by the Public Library of Science in November, 2013, followed 45,000 walkers over a period of nine years. Results of this study showed that the risk of death decreases as walking intensity increases. The slowest walkers in the study had the highest rates of death. Walking is an exercise that most can continue well into old age, and it supports the ability to maintain independence and functional fitness as you age.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry stresses the importance of aerobic exercise, such as power walking, for overall good mental health, noting that exercise has been shown to alleviate depression, improve mood, reduce anxiety and stress, improve sleep, raise self-esteem and improve cognitive function. In a 2012 study reported in The New York Times, researchers tested the impact of a number of variables on cognitive function in mice. Some were provided treats beyond their standard diet and some were provided auditory and visual stimulation, but the improvement in cognitive function was associated exclusively with the opportunity for exercise.
Immune Function Boost
Power walking and other forms of aerobic exercise can reduce your risk for developing certain cancers. It can also improve outcomes for those who already have cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence. According to the American Physiological Society, studies have shown that when cancer survivors exercise for several weeks after completing treatment, their immune systems become more effective at fighting future cancers.