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Power Walking: Why Getting Off the Treadmill and Getting Outside Can Burn Calories and Free Your Mind

Sep 13, 2010

If you take up power walking outside, you will have the twin rewards of not only looking physically fit but feeling mentally fit in ways that just don't happen if you exercise indoors on a treadmill. You might actually unwind far more quickly listening to birds chirping, rustling leaves, and your own inner music rather than programmed songs from the gym's stereo system. Fitness experts say that power walks are a great way to blow off steam as well as burn calories, especially at times when you are coping with a lot of stress.

What's So Special?

You might wonder what's so special about power walking when you already walk throughout the day: from the office to the mall, from the train station to your home, and from home to the corner store? But there is a difference.

When you walk, you put one foot in front of the other and you move your body in a  forward direction, plain and simple. When you power walk, you make some special things happen that burn calories and speed up the body's metabolism.

Power walking, unlike regular walking, requires that you move your body in a focused way. With good posture, head up, shoulders back, tummy tucked in and buttocks tightened, you are all set to use your muscles in an aerobic manner. You walk more quickly than you would normally. You might normally walk about three miles an hour; with power walking you achieve an average of 4.5 to 5 miles per hour. You are not taking long strides at a slow pace. You are moving with small, fast steps to maintain speed. Your upper as well as lower body are at work. You are consciously swinging your arms from front to back with vim and vigor.

Calories Burned

If you want to shed pounds, the good news is that you are speeding  up your metabolism. Thirty minutes of power walking burns about 300 to 400 calories.

But I Have a Treadmill...

Being in the great outdoors not only relieves stress, but it gives you the chance to really work your muscles if you are climbing up and down hills. On the other  hand, you might not live in a climate where walking outdoors always makes sense--especially in frigid temperatures with dangerous, untreated ice on the sidewalks and roads. In the best of all exercise worlds, you can make use of a treadmill at home or nearby so that you can power walk in any kind of weather.

Getting Started

If you are an absolute beginner, fitness experts advise that you ease  into power walking. Start off walking for 15 to 20 minutes and aim for an eventual workout of 30 minutes for at least three days a week. If you really enjoy the time spent and think you are ready for more than three days a week, set your goal to five, six or seven days a week, depending on your own wants and needs. Even short power walks of 15 minutes three times a week will be beneficial to your health.

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