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Power walking is an exercise technique that emphasizes speed and arm motion as a means of increasing health benefits.

Done correctly, regular power walking is good for your cardiovascular health, joint health, and emotional well-being.

Good power walking technique is essential if you want to maximize benefits and prevent injuries. Here are some good guidelines to follow:

Watch your posture

Keep your eyes forward, shoulders back, and head upright. Pull your belly button in toward your spine to engage your core muscles. If you find yourself slumping forward, take a moment to correct your body position.

If you notice you’re holding tension in your shoulders and neck, relax and release them. Good posture will help you maintain speed and will help protect you from injury.

Swing your arms gently

With your arms bent at about a 90-degree angle, move your arms up and back so the opposite arm and leg are advancing at the same time. If your right foot is stepping forward, your left arm should be reaching forward, too.

Adding the arm motion will help you walk faster. You don’t need wild swings or chicken wings to get that benefit. Exaggerated movements could actually slow you down and increase the chance of hurting yourself.

Focus on controlling your range of motion. Your hand shouldn’t rise higher than your collarbone and shouldn’t cross the center of your body.

Heel!

With every step, land on your heel and roll your foot forward toward your toe. Concentrate on moving your hips forward rather than side to side.

Get a move on

Use short strides and aim for a brisk pace. Studies have shown that taking more steps per minute can have a positive impact on your insulin level, body mass index, and waist circumference.

If you’re just beginning an exercise program, talk to your doctor about a healthy pace for you. Gradually work up to longer distances and greater speed.

Distance counts

One small study of postal workers found that those who walked more than 15,000 steps daily had no signs of metabolic syndrome. This is a combination of health factors that often precedes the onset of diabetes.

It’s amazing that power walking — a form of exercise that requires no expensive equipment, no special athletic ability, no apps or technology, and no gym membership (and one of the oldest and simplest forms of exercise on earth) — can be so beneficial.

Doctors have known for some time that brisk walking can help you lose weight, especially belly fat.

Studies have found that power walking also reduces your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

The National Cancer Institute reports that engaging in regular, moderate to intense physical exercise like power walking lowers your risk for several cancers.

Power walking is also good for your bones. A recent study found an hour per day of moderate-intensity exercise like power walking prevents disability in people who have symptoms of joint problems in their lower extremities.

A 2002 study also found that walking four hours per week lowered the risk of hip fracture by 41 percent among women in perimenopause.

And it’s not just your body that gets a boost from power walking. Research indicates brisk walking has powerful effects on your mental functioning, decision-making skills, and memory, especially as you get older.

Decades of studies have also shown that brisk walking improves anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.

To get the most out of power walking, consider these tips:

  • Get the right gear. Your shoes should have good arch support and a flat sole (unlike running shoes, which may be slightly thicker at the heel).
  • Make sure you’re visible. Walk on a path or sidewalk where you’re safe from traffic. If you’re walking at dusk or in the dark, use reflective tape or clothing, or bring a flashlight.
  • Make it fun. Walk with a friend or colleague. Walk somewhere you find beautiful and restorative. Walk to music you like (just make sure you can also hear traffic sounds). Do whatever makes it fun for you!
  • Know the terrain. To keep from falling, notice uneven sidewalks, tree roots, and other obstacles.

Power walking emphasizes speed and arm motion to increase your heart rate and stimulate other health benefits.

If you want to empower your daily walk, increase your pace with more strides per minute, bend your arms, and swing them gently as you walk.

Power walking has been shown to lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers. It’s a great way to get fit, improve your heart and joint health, and boost your mental well-being.

When you’re walking, make sure you’re on safe terrain, wearing the right gear, and taking steps to be sure this workout is as enjoyable as it is beneficial.