walking for fitness

“Walking is the only form of transportation in which a man proceeds erect – like a man – on his own legs, under his own power. There is immense satisfaction in that.” ― Edward Abbey

Walking, for most people, is something we do without thought. We might think about where we are going or how far we may have to walk, but it is as natural as breathing. 

Unfortunately, we also live in a time and a place where walking for any stretch of distance more than a few yards is uncommon. For much of our population, walking any distance beyond a half-mile is a rarity.

And we are suffering for it.

A Society of Immobile Mobility

The irony of our lack of walking, in general, is that we are a highly mobile society. Americans are always on the move, always going somewhere, and often in transit multiple times during a day. However, much of that movement is done in a vehicle or using elevators and escalators, or maybe a bicycle – which can be as good as walking!

The Mayo Clinic notes that the average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles daily. Recently, there has been a boon in digital activity trackers in watches and mobile phones. This has led to a trend of striving for achieving a baseline goal of 10,000 steps each day by many people.

That goal is somewhat arbitrary, however, and is based on a few concepts.

One of these is that walking 10,000 steps each day typically burns about 2000 to 3500 calories each week. Since one pound of body fat equals about 3500 calories, the average person could lose one pound a week with a proper diet and consistent walking exercise.

The other basis for the daily goal of 10,000 steps is cardio-based. Most research tends to show that this is a minimum level of physical activity to elevate one above a mere low to a somewhat active state.

How long does it take to walk 10,000 steps? If you were to take a leisurely stroll through a large park, for example, and your pace was slow it might take as long as two hours and 45 minutes. But a brisk, five-mile per hour pace can burn through that same distance in less than two hours.

The sad truth is that most people never come close to that number on any typical day.

Walking for Fitness

For most people, their normal mode of walking has been termed “Lifestyle” walking. This is basic leisurely walking where you take your time and move at your own pace. While this is a necessary mode of movement simply to get from one place to another, it provides little more than a nominal cardio benefit.

There are a variety and degrees of walking for fitness, however. Here is a brief overview of the most common:

Fitness walking

While this speed is not quite jogging, it requires walking briskly at a more accelerated pace. A fitness walking workout should be in the range of 100 steps per minute or a pace of about 3.5 miles per hour or higher for at least 30 minutes. Fitness walking raises the heart rate, burns calories, and can increase longevity.

Power walking

This is a step up from fitness walking. Power walking requires an even faster pace, that is short of a slow jog, and often involves rigorous arm swings to help build up both cardiovascular endurance and total-body strength. The proper power walking technique uses a 90-degree arm swing and the heel-to-toe foot strike.

Nordic or Pole walking

This version of power walking is similar to the movements required by cross-country skiing and makes use of Nordic poles. Incorporating poles engages the upper body and helps propel forward movement.

Marathon walking

Not your grandmother’s walk! This is one form of long-distance endurance walking that focuses on the marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42.195 km). The run/walk method has been traditionally used by many marathon runners to complete the distance, but there are many dedicated walkers who also set this as a goal.

Like any other physical exertion, engaging in walking at a higher pace poses a possible risk of injury or pain caused by dysfunctional movement. That’s when you need to seek professional help and guidance.

Pain and Performance Solutions and Pain-Free Fitness

Striving for optimum health and a high degree of fitness takes work and effort. Fortunately, for most people, this can be achieved with a simple and low-impact walking routine. However, during any physical exertion, people do sometimes hurt themselves or develop some type of chronic pain.

Walking is quite likely the most low-impact form of exercise available to most people. In addition, it is quite possible to engage in fitness walking just about anywhere, anytime. The versatility and low entry bar of this form of exercise makes it an easy way to get fit and stay in shape. 

But a correct walking gait is significant for avoiding aches and pains after walking. This means a proper posture, walking step motion, and a natural stride. 

When pain is present, however, especially foot pain, an analysis of your walking gait can be beneficial. By using Anatomy in Motion (AiM) therapy, we can determine your foot’s dysfunction through movements and how your body responds to the pain caused by those movements.

With AiM movement treatments, we can learn how to move you away from that pain naturally. This will allow your body to start working properly and back to reaching its full potential. In addition, AiM treatments can reveal the ways in which your posture is affecting the pain in your feet by the way you are moving.

Understanding how your body moves through your pain and compensates for movement dysfunction is key to your recovery. Pain and Performance Solutions would like to schedule a consultation with you so we can learn more about your pain or injury and explain how we can develop a diagnosis.

As with any diagnosis of an injury or chronic pain, the first step is getting to know you. We can’t determine how to diagnose your chronic pain without understanding your history and what you’ve been through and where you are now.

Setting up a consultation is the first step in your journey to recovery, so feel free to contact us at (707) 636-4404 or fill out our online contact form.