Race walking, Nordic walking, power walking, freestyle walking…what is all of this? Can’t I just go out and take the dog for a walk?
Of course you can and you should! But for some people, just putting one foot in front of another is not enough.
There are many different styles of walking suited to people of differing ages, physical condition, and temperament. What follows is a description of the most popular walking styles.
Race walking is defined as follows: at any time at least one foot has
contact with the ground (to the naked eye) and the supporting leg must
be straightened (i.e. not bent at the knee) from the moment of the first
impact of the foot with the ground until the supporting leg passes below
the body. The participants swivel and tilt their hips to lengthen their
strides. The world’s top racewalkers can walk a mile (1.6 km) in under
six minutes! Try running a mile in six minutes if you want to appreciate
what race walkers do.
Racewalkers must maintain good form and are penalized for bending the
knee as it passes under the body or having their feet lose contact with
the ground. Race walking is an Olympic sport with distances of 20 kilometers
for both men and women and 50 kilometers for men only. Mile for mile,
race walkers burn more calories than runners.
You can find links to race walking sites on our Learning page.
No, we’re not talking here about Michael Jackson. That’s moonwalking.
Power walking refers to walking with a purpose as opposed to a slow,
comfortable stroll along the seaside.
Power walking is a moderate-impact activity, so make sure you have
some good shoes. Make sure your shoes are not too stiff or too tight.
There should be a thumb’s width of space from the end of your longest
toe to the front of the shoe. We have some shoe recommendations on our
To burn the optimum number of calories, aim to walk at about a 4.5
miles (7.2 km) per hour. If you walk at this pace, you can burn approximately
the same number of calories as someone jogging at the same speed. This
is a pretty good clip, so if you haven’t been walking regularly, you
should work up to that speed gradually.
You can find links to power walking sites on our Learning page.
Have you seen that guy who appears to be skiing along down the road but doesn’t have any skis? It’s called Nordic walking (also called ski walking) and it is a form of walking using ski poles. Nordic walking was first developed in Finland by cross country skiers as part of their summer training. It’s sort of a cross between walking, running, and cross-country skiing. The result is a total body workout that burns up to forty percent more calories than plain walking.
Nordic walking involves applying pressure on the ground with the poles.
Because of this, Nordic walkers make more use of their shoulders and
upper arm muscles, while getting an excellent back, chest and abdominal
workout. Nordic walkers walk faster, walk for greater distances, climb
hills more easily, get a better upper body workout, and burn more calories
than regular walkers.
Nordic walking poles are available in solid one-piece design or in
telescoping designs that allow changes in height for different terrain
or different users. You can see a selection of good quality poles on
our Gear page.
You can find links to Nordic walking sites on our Learning page.
There was no way the kids were going to let their parents have a cool
thing like walking all to themselves. So a bunch of skateboarders invented
something called "freestyle walking" that is sort of like
skateboarding with the boards. If you are young enough, flexible enough
and fearless enough and you’d like to do tricks like grinds, railslides
and backsides without a board, then freestyle walking might just be
the thing for you.
Freestyle walking (also called soaping) is a combination of skateboarding,
rollerblading and snowboarding, the major difference being that you
do it in a pair of shoes! Participants might do back flips off fences,
jump off curbs, slide down handrails – all using the soles of their
Freestyle walking can be done using an old pair of sneakers, but it’s
easier if you buy a special pair of soaping shoes. These shoes are fitted
with a special, removable plastic grind plate that screws into the bottom
of the shoe under the arch of the foot. This plate allows you to smoothly
glide down rails and do other tricks that would be much more difficult
in sneakers. The shoes are usually made of leather and have special
laces to avoid tripping on them.
Freestyle walking is definitely not for everyone. It is much riskier
to life and limb than any other form of walking, but if you like the
extreme edge of thing, you’ve got to check it out.
You can find links to freestyle walking sites on our Learning page.