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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 12:05 am | Fair 46º


Captain’s Log: Power Walk Your Way to Better Health

The low-impact, heart-pumping activity is a great way to get in a workout — and have fun doing it

On my way to the harbor in the morning, I am amazed and amused by the number of people out walking, jogging and running. I most admire the power walkers. I believe they best portray our Gold Coast style of taking it to the streets, and I believe they do the best job for themselves in terms of a good aerobic workout with reasonable strain on moving body parts.

Capt. David Bacon
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

A great benefit of any walking style is getting out in our neighborhoods, seeing sights and exchanging hellos with other health seekers. Power walkers tend to cover considerable distance — after a person grows accustomed to prolonged exertion — so naturally more sights will be seen and more greetings exchanged.

This activity goes by a number of names: power walking, race walking, speed walking and pacing. Whatever name you prefer, make no mistake — it is an arm-pumping, hip-rolling intense workout that will work your heart and lungs like you are running, yet put much less stress on the knees, ankles and back. It seems to take as much energy to power walk as it does to jog.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that power walking will lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increase aerobic capacity, help with weight management and lower stress levels? It is certainly a great way to burn fat — as many as 500 calories per hour. When done properly, power walking works quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals, glutes, calves and shins — all at the same time.

To provide a better description of how it’s done properly, I found this by Angie Ferguson, a fitness columnist in south Florida: “The hallmark sign of a good race-walker is the hip-roll technique. Stand straight and tall, with your shoulders and torso aligned over your hips. Keep your chin lifted, parallel to the ground, and eyes looking forward. Abdominals are strong and pulled in tight.

“Begin by stepping forward with your right foot, landing on your heel with toes pointed up toward your nose. Roll through the foot from heel to the toe to propel yourself forward. As you warm up, begin increasing your pace by increasing the number of steps you take.

“Keep the arms bent at a 90-degree angle during your workout. As you walk, your arms should swing naturally by your sides, with your front arm never reaching higher than the chest and the hand of your back arm not going past the hip. The arms should swing parallel to the ground. Also keep the fists loose and the shoulders relaxed.

“The hip roll has three components that must be fulfilled to execute the movement properly. 1) As your right heel steps out, push your right hip forward. 2) When the right heel strikes the ground, allow the right hip to pull the body forward. 3) As the right foot rolls through the step from heel to toe, drop the right hip slightly. This action will drive your left hip forward, preparing you to step out with the left foot.”

Power walking seems perfect for many of us Gold Coasters who need to get in a little more (or at least more focused) regimen of strenuous activity — maybe to help burn off some of that Valentine’s Day chocolate you know you’ll be eating this weekend!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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