What is Power Walking?

Originally published on Nike.com

While walking is a low-maintenance and effective form of exercise, power walking ramps up this basic movement to the next level.

“Power walking is walking at a rapid speed with arms pumping, moving in a heel-to-toe step,” said Gretchen Zelek, AFAA-certified group fitness instructor and FIA-certified functional aging specialist. “While regular walking is considered a lower body activity, power walking is a full-body cardio workout that also engages the core.”

She said that power walking tends to be faster than regular walking, yet slower than running. For reference, power walking typically averages around 4–5 mph.

By doing so, you’ll also be working toward achieving important weekly exercise goals for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), walking briskly at a pace of at least 3 mph qualifies as a moderate-intensity aerobic activity, which it recommends doing for at least 150 minutes per week.

If you’re new to power walking, and searching for your optimal pace, consider how your body moves at different speeds.

“Unlike a run or jog, at least one foot must always stay in contact with the ground in a power walk,” said Marissa Miller, an ACE-certified personal trainer. “This, in part, makes power walking a low-impact and knee-friendly alternative to running.”

Also, power walking involves becoming more observant of your steps and stride length.

“Power walking aims to tackle more ground in the same amount of time — or the same [distance] in less time,” said Miller. “This means you can choose to take steps quicker or bigger steps — whichever works according to your fitness level.”

The simplest way to know if you’re power walking is by monitoring your heart rate. The CDC states that for moderate-intensity aerobic activity, your heart rate should be between 64 percent and 76 percent of your maximum heart rate, which can be estimated by your age.

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Gretchen loves to write about fitness, running, and lifestyle over 50. Gretchen, 63, has been married for 35 years and is a mom to 4 grown children. She enjoys volunteering for charities in the Los Angeles area, loves running, and never misses her daily zoom corebarrefit class.

About Gretchen