Let’s Power Walk!
Power walking is a form of exercise that I highly recommend. What is power walking?
It’s walking briskly with more steps per minute than your normal speed while using more
arm motion. Over time, as your fitness level improves, you can add weights to wrists and
ankles, or even wear a weighted vest.
If you are older or haven’t been exercising, especially after the pandemic and you were
staying inside too much, I would recommend speaking to your doctor before you begin a
new exercise plan.
What are the benefits of power walking? You would be amazed at how many calories
you can burn this way, helping you lose weight and increase fitness. You can burn more
calories than running, especially if you are using weights. This is because while running
has been described by biomechanists as “stopping yourself from falling”, power walking
generates more forward momentum and therefore is more work for the body. Unlike
running however, there is a very low chance of injury because power walking is more
controlled, slower, and is low impact.
Walking is considered the best exercise by experts because it moves your whole body,
strengthening bone and muscle. Walking is an important part of digestion. I remember
when I first started working on the orthopedic ward of Beekman Lower Manhattan
Hospital. The patients had had their knees or hips replaced and were lying in bed for
days. Just about every one of them had to be given laxatives. I thought that was very
interesting. No walking, no digesting!
Walking also helps lung function as you contract the muscles of the neck and chest, including the diaphragm and muscles between the ribs that work together to power inhaling and exhaling. This benefit begins on day one of your power walking plan, but as the muscles get stronger over time, your lung function will increase. It’s a win win cycle as better lung function increases the amount of oxygen available to muscles- which helps muscles become stronger.
And there are some simple benefits. When you are outside, looking at green spaces,
getting a little sunshine, your cortisol (stress hormone) level goes down. This is a good
thing because we are all living a stressed out life, worried about the economy, germs, the
environment, etc. You can meditate to help lower cortisol, but nothing beats a walk in the park to improve your mood! Lowering your cortisol during the day is the best aid to a restful night’s sleep.
Because it’s so safe, you can power walk every day. Like brushing your teeth, make
some time in your day that becomes a consistent habit. Please try to walk at least 20 to 30 minutes every day. I do 2 20 minute power walks a day by getting out of the train 20 blocks away from the office. That’s a pleasant way to start my day. I walk through Union Square and Madison Square parks in order to see some trees and green space.