Many people enjoy walking as a form of recreation in the mainly developed world, and it is one of their best past time. The good news is that it is also a life saver.

Walking is one of the easiest ways to stay physically fit. You may have a busy life, but introducing a moderate dose of physical activity in the form of brisk, nordic or race walking for 30 minutes a day into your schedule will go long way in keeping you healthy.

Don’t get me wrong, normal leisure walking is better than none at all. But, the variants earlier mentioned are more beneficial.

The spectrum of walking ranges from the daily ambulatory movements to the slightly demanding brisk walking to the more intense Race and Nordic walking variants. Various other types of walking exist, but let’s stick to these three in this blog post.

When walking briskly, expect to:

– Sweat a little and experience a growing warmth of your body
– Experience a slight increase in your heart-beats
– Experience heavy breathing with the ability to still be able to talk with someone you might be walking with.

How to walk briskly

The proper form for brisk walking is to stand up straight, bend your elbows and relax your shoulders. Look straight ahead and start walking, heel to toe. Move your arms forward and backwards as you walk and try to relax your hands instead of clenching your fists.

Race walking

I usually look forward to this sport in the Olympics. It is very exerting and it has its own technique. But, it is a technique that can be used at any walking speed. It is generally used by walkers to increase their speed and endurance. Plus the race walking technique provides a great aerobic workout and burns more calories per mile than brisk walking.

How to Race-walk

Race-walking is a progression of steps in which the walker makes contact with the ground so that no visible (to the normal eye) loss of contact occurs. This is what differentiates race-walking from running. It means that there is a moment when the heel of the front foot and the toe of the rear foot appear to be in contact with the ground at the same time. Before the race-walker takes the rear foot off the ground, their front heel must make contact with the ground. Contact with the ground appears (to the human eye) to be maintained at all times.

The advancing leg must be straightened (i.e. not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until in the vertical position

Nordic walking

I am not describing ski events involving cross-country racing, ski jumping or both, nor am I talking about walking in Scandinavian countries.

I am talking about fitness walking with specially designed poles.

While trekkers, backpackers and skiers have been using the basic concept for decades, Nordic walking (also called pole walking) involves applying force to the poles with each stride. Nordic walkers use more of their entire body muscles (about 90% of all muscles with greater intensity) and receive fitness building stimulation not present in normal walking for the chest, laps, triceps, biceps, shoulders, abdominal, spinal and other core muscles that may result in significant increases in heart rate at a given pace.

According to a systematic review, Nordic walking exerts beneficial effects on resting heart rate, blood pressure, exercise capacity, maximal oxygen consumption, and quality of life in patients with various diseases and can thus be recommended to a wide range of people as primary and secondary prevention against non-communicable diseases (Pubmed).

Before you start

If you happen to suffer from any medical condition, and you intend to start fitness walking, it is always better to consult your doctor first. Discuss whether you need to take any precautions and follow his suggestions about whether you should go for brisk walk, Nordic walk or Race-walk and also how you should go about it.

To have a worthwhile experience, remember to wear the right pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothes. Also remember to carry and drink water while you walk, to hydrate yourself. Walk for 15-20 minutes for the first three days, and then gradually increase the time/day. Otherwise you can use a pedometer to count the steps you take for proper grading.

NB: If you lack the appropriate equipments (walking shoes, comfortable clothes, Nordic poles, pedometer etc). The Truppr store is your FRIEND, contact them.

Damilola Alawode (Physical Activity Advocate) – @DAlawode on twitter

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