Contrary to popular belief there is more than one type of walk. Whilst walking essentially consists of putting one leg in front of the other, there’s many different types we can do. Walking is great for our overall health, but it can sometimes become a repetitive form of exercise. If you find yourself nodding in agreement, then look no further; in this article we’ll be discussing different types of walking you can do to spice up your exercise routine.
Before we dive into the different types of walks, let’s talk about why walking is so beneficial for our health. Not only does it increase our cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness, but it also helps manage high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. But wait, there’s more! Walking also helps to increase endurance and build muscle.
Walking is a great daily exercise to engage in, especially if you struggle to commit to frequent exercise. Walking is already a part of our routines, whether it’s done outside or around the house. Because of this it’s easy to implement, meaning we can retain it in our exercise routines.
Another great thing about walking is that it doesn’t have to be vigorous. You don’t need to commit to a 2-hour country walk in order to reap the benefits from walking. A 2007 study found that even walking for 75 minutes per week – that's 10 minutes per day – improved the fitness of an inactive group of women. I think I’ve spent longer walking to and from the fridge in a day.
Now we’ve gone over why walking is a great way to exercise, let’s deconstruct the different types of walks.
A stroll is an amble at a regular pace. These walks are probably the epitome of what we think about when we picture a walk. Strolls are great for when you have time to go at a slower pace or want to appreciate nature whilst you walk.
A brisk walk is exactly that. With a faster than normal pace, you may be puffing slightly but should still be able to talk. This is a great step up from walking at a regular pace and easing yourself to be more active. A 2018 study investigated the effects between walking pace and health. Findings indicated that brisk walking reduced the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases more than walking at a slower pace.
When we think of power walking, things like being late for your bus or having 30 minutes to walk all the way to the shop and back during your lunchbreak come to mind. However, power walking is a great way to up your walking game, and not just when you’re in a rush. Studies have linked power walking to better bone health, mental functioning, and an improvement in anxiety.
Whilst Geocaching isn’t a type of walking, it’s a great way to switch up your routine if you’re bored of regular walks. Geocaching is one big treasure hunt; follow the clues on the app left by other community members to find hidden items around your area. Once you find it, keep it in the same space for others to enjoy the treasure hunt. Geocaching is not only fun and rewarding, it’s also great to do with friends or a partner.
Originating from cross-country skiing in Scandinavia, Nordic walking is a great way to stay active. Essentially, it’s a brisk walk with support, as you use two poles to propel yourself forwards and give you momentum. Nordic walking is great as it uses most of the muscles in the body, and has been promoted by the Breast Cancer Haven as it’s especially helpful for people recovering from breast cancer. This is because the method of walking promotes muscle restoration in places it has weakened and can reduce the chances of getting lymphedema. Nordic walking is also great because the technique protects hip and knee joints, and reduces stress on the lower body.
Hiking is a long-distance walk, often through mountainous land or country lanes. If you enjoy getting outside and walking for long periods of time, hiking is great as it strengthens your fitness, improves sleep quality and can have a healing effect on cancer patients. Studies have also shown that going for hikes decreases ‘rumination,’ which is the psychological term for repetitive negative thoughts of oneself. Hiking also gives us the opportunity to step back from our busy lives and reconnect with nature, reducing stress and making us happier.
Chi walking is a method of walking that requires more mindfulness than the others. The key to this is to think of the body as one unit and align all your movements together. If you’re interested in learning the technique to Chi walking, you can click here for a step by step.
Marathon walking requires what it says on the tin; for you to walk a marathon! It may sound daunting; however, this is not an everyday feat. Whilst marathon walking is for anyone that wants to take on the challenge, the mental capacity to do a marathon walk is equally as important, if not, more than the physical element. Even though walking a marathon is easier than running one, you’ll be on your feet for much longer than you’re used to. If you find yourself interested in marathon walking, training is essential to build up your stamina.
Racewalking – long distance athletic event
Racewalking is a competitive athletic event. Whilst you may think racewalking would be the same as power or speed walking, the difference is in the technique. Racewalkers follow two rules; one foot must have contact with the ground, and the second is the leg must be kept straight from when it hits the ground. If you find regular walking monotonous and enjoy some competition, racewalking might just be for you. A racewalker testimony states “I think exercise is boring, but racewalking is a good way to socialize and you’re getting your health benefits at the same time.”
So, there you have it folks; here are just a few types of walking that you can engage in if you want to switch it up. Walking is great because you’re able to change your exercise routine with minimal effort. One day you can go for a nice stroll, and the next you may be power walking down the street. The best thing the thing is that you’ll be reaping the rewards no matter what type of walking you engage in.