Race Walking

Race Walking

We walkers spend a lot of our spare time in the great outdoors discovering our beautiful planet on foot. Its a great way to exercise and really take in the world around us, but have you ever thought about stepping your game up a notch and getting involved in race walking?

Race walking is a a recognised discipline of athletics, is included in the Olympic Games and is essentially just a faster version of regular walking. It is regulated by the IAAF and judged so that you maintain a good walking technique. Points are then awarded based on how fast you complete a fixed distance and rankings are produced so that you can begin to compete with other who do race walking.

Is Walking a Good Form of Exercise?

We all know that if we want to burn calories and look amazing and trim we need to run a million miles a day or jump on an evil spin bike or something equally painful and horrible, but what about walking; is walking a good form of exercise?

Well according to The Stroke Association a brisk 30 minute walk every day will help to prevent and control high blood pressure that can cause strokes, in turn reducing the risk of having one by up to 27%, certainly not to be sniffed at.

Walking is also great for strengthening your heart and reducing the risk of heart disease. Findings from a large health study told that our bodies use the same amount of energy for moderate intensity walking as you do during vigorous intensity running, resulting in similar reduction in risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

So let’s say you want to lose some weight, is walking as good as hitting the gym? Well supposedly all we need to do is walk faster and longer than we currently do to shed some pounds.  A two minute walk to your local shop isn’t going to shred body fat, but a brisk 30-60 minute walk a few times a week will definitely burn calories and get your metabolism going. Walking is a low-impact cardiovascular exercise, metabolism is the process of substances (i.e. food) being broken down and used for energy. So when walking, how much you burn and how fast your metabolism works is down to how fast you walk, for how long, whether you walk up hill and so on. You could certainly use walking as a form of exercise to lose weight though without any doubt, you just need to increase your personal effort so that your metabolism burns those calories.

If you are young and fit and want to push yourself when walking then uphill is a great way to do this. Uphill walking has been proved to increase fat metabolism to keep blood glucose levels high. Less able people may want to be cautious with the hill walks though, heading upwards brings with it worse weather and more chances of accidents happening. If you selected a hill walk setting on a treadmill you’d still achieve the desired results, but let’s face it who really wants to do that when you could be walking outdoors?

An interesting piece of research found that women who walked for nine hours per week experienced an overall lower body fat percentage and an increase metabolic rate. This compares to those who walked for just one hour a week and did not enjoy these benefits. However, one longer five hour brisk walk seemed to achieve the same results and in less time.

We are sold on the fact that walking is a good form of exercise, alongside the health benefits and the weight loss help if that’s your aim, it is also worth noting that walking has been found time and time again to positively boost mental health and help clear your mind.

Time to dig out those walking boots and breathe in some fresh air!