Why Walk? - well why not!
There are (generally) several types of "walking":
1. Recreational walking
2. Nordic walking
3. Power walking
4. Race walking!
Recreational walking - the benefits
From everyday experience, we know that people benefit physically, emotionally and mentally when they start to walk regularly. Walking provides the opportunity to meet new people, expand social networks, and connect people with their local environment and community.
- it gives you more energy and vitality: you can experience the open air and calm down!;
- it also helps to combat or even diminish mental problems or complaints. Fresh air and exercise in a natural environment does do an awful lot of good. All you need to do is just go and explore your local park!
- you will also feel better as result of walking outdoors - ie you end up in a better mood at the end of your walk! You can leave behind any daily troubles for a short time! Enjoy!
- it keeps your weight under control: muscle tone, fight the flab... all are obvious benefits. You can keep fit and mobile and active in a sensible way.
- you sleep better
- you run less risk on health problems (cancer, diabetes, heart-and vascular diseases...)
- the self-confidence increases
- and so much more!
The benefits of recreational walking can actually be translated to many "types" of walking, including..
Nordic walking - and what is it?
Nordic walking was originally a summer training regime for cross-country skiers. It is based on using specially designed walking poles in a way that harnesses the power of the upper body to propel you forward as you walk. It's now a recognised way to turn a walk into whole-body exercise that can be done by anybody, anywhere.
Nordic walking is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. There are classes which range from gentle walks for people with health concerns, to workout walks, which are a great way to improve fitness, lose weight and tone the whole body. There are even Nordic walking marathons!
Equipment: You will need a pair of Nordic walking poles (different to trekking poles); walking shoes and appropriate clothing. Most Nordic walking instructors will provide the poles, but you can buy a pair for about £30.
What difference do the poles make? When properly used, the poles take the weight off the knees and lower body joints – this makes you feel lighter on your feet.
Technique: You move in a similar way to ordinary walking and swing your arms from your shoulder with your elbows straight – think of a soldier marching. To get the full benefits and avoid injury, you could start with lessons to get the basic technique.
Health benefits: similar to other forms of moderate activity, regular Nordic walking can lower your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. Nordic walking, like any other form of exercise, can also be used as part of an exercise programme to lose weight. Nordic walking is no harder on the joints than walking. It's an activity suitable for people with joint conditions or who may be carrying some extra body weight.
Getting started: Nordic walking can be done in any location, city or countryside, but it's recommended that you learn the technique from a qualified instructor.
They will usually offer a taster session so that you can make sure it's something that's right for you first. Most instructors also run local groups, which you can join for regular walks once you've learned the technique.
There are also Nordic walking championship events.
Why choose power walking or "speed walking"?
Power walking was, more or less, invented in the USA and more or less ignored by the rest of the world. The origins, in the 1990s, involved walking very fast in shopping malls in the US. It has since then been transported to the outdoors.... and the benefits measure the same benefits of recreational walking (but maybe just a little bit faster) ...
♦ it's an ideal sport for the building and the conservation of a good physical condition and an an efficient training for the strengthening of the body;
♦ it creates a sense of satisfaction through intensive effort and training;
♦ is it not a risky sport: there are no injuries by direct contact with a pavement/road surface;
♦ it offers a natural solution for the prevention of illnesses and in particular for respiratory diseases (but be aware of traffic pollution in cities!);
♦ it is compatible with other sports (running, football, tennis, fitness, swimming, mountaineering...).
Racewalking vs. Speedwalking
Racewalking is not just walking fast or speedwalking. Although a fast walking technique may borrow posture and arm motion from racewalking, it does not use the straight leg technique that gives racewalking its hip rotation.
You can use the racewalking technique to walk faster in events such as 5K park runs, charity runs and half-marathons, etc, (and quite possibly, beating many runners to the finish line).
But racewalking stands alone as a competitive sport.
It's not just for the young—racewalking also offers opportunities to compete and to achieve national standing for people of all ages.
Racewalking burns more calories per mile than regular walking as the straight leg technique forces you to use more muscles. You might use racewalking as a way to boost the intensity of your walking workouts. It can raise your heart rate from the moderate intensity level to the vigorous intensity level.
Recreational walking, Nordic walking and power walking can be a natural progression to RACE WALKING! So go for it! Give it a try... why not?
but note that walking sticks are not allowed in race walking races.....
Race walking is a bit of a technical sport. It has rules as to how you should walk and has judges to ensure you comply with the rules!
But it is a very rewarding sport! Walking with a race walking or athletics club is about so much more than physical exercise. It’s about joining a community that has the power to change your life. And when it comes to long and ultra distance walkers like the Centurions then it is a very special family of walkers.
Race walking competitions take place on track and on road and cover a huge amount of distances from 2,000metres through to 100miles and even longer. Obviously, the Centurions are interested in 100 miles and 24 hour races but we all compete in shorter and longer races!
More on > race walking
More on > Centurions 100 miles