Do you want to get more exercise during your walks? Experts say that power walking, or fast walking, burns a number of calories similar to running. “You can burn as many calories walking 4.5 mph for an hour as you can running for the same time and distance,” says Eli Friedman, MD, medical director of sports cardiology at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida. “Also, fast walking tends to be easier on the knees and feet.”
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or a combination equivalent each week. The guidelines also recommend that children and teens be active for at least 60 minutes each day. Following these guidelines, according to the CDC, can contribute to overall health and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
Dr. Friedman, who serves as a cardiologist for the Miami Major League Soccer team, Inter Miami CF, and numerous local universities, is also a cardiology consultant to the United States Tennis Association Sports Science Committee and the consulting sports cardiologist for the Broward County Public Schools Student Wellness and Sports Medicine Committee. Aside from his work helping elite and amateur athletes, Dr. Friedman includes running, cycling, and training in his daily routine.
In an interview with the editors of Health, Dr. Friedman offers helpful advice for anyone interested in power walking.
Health: What is the “power walking” how is it different from normal walks?
Dr. Friedman: “Power walking” is similar to normal walking, but it is done with more intensity and at a faster pace. In other words, the number of steps per minute will increase and there may be more use of the upper body, especially the arms, to propel the body forward. Breathing may be harder and your heart rate may be faster when walking briskly.
Health: What are the benefits of “power walking”?
Dr. Friedman: In general, the more intense the activity, the greater the health benefits. Compared to a person walking at a casual pace, a person power walking can expect to lower their blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol numbers.
Health: What advice would you give someone who wants to start power walking?
Dr. Friedman: Start small. Try intervals at first. For example, walk at a normal pace for four minutes, then walk with more power for one minute. Do six such sets. As you get more comfortable, increase the power walking time and decrease the lower pace interval. Eventually, you should be able to power walk exclusively.
Health: Is there anything else you want to add?
Dr. Friedman: Power walking is a great activity for someone who is interested in increasing the intensity of their exercise. However, it is always important to listen to your body and pay attention to any unexpected or disturbing symptoms. If you develop any unusual pain, discomfort, dizziness or shortness of breath while power walking, please consult your doctor.