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Once you've decided to make walking a part of your life, you need to decide what type of walking do you wish to pursue.  There are many types, with different benefits and challenges.

The first and least demanding form of walking is what we call pedestrian walking. Pedestrian walking is what is sounds like. It is walking without any specific technique as a casual method of transportation to get from one place to another. It is a low intensity activity that keeps your heart rate and effort low. It is ideal for individuals who are out of shape, overweight, or unfamiliar with working out. Pedestrian walkers average between twenty and thirty minutes per mile but do not focus on pace.

When an individual is ready for a bit more intensity one can step up the intensity my increasing their pace and using their arms more actively. This form of walking doesn't have a formal definition or name. It may be referred to as health walking, athletic walking, or power walking. Walkers can hit speeds of twelve to fifteen minutes per mile and get their heart rate higher than their pedestrian walking peers.

When power walking doesn't get you fast enough or it doesn't get your heart rate where you want it to be, then the natural progression is for you to learn to race walk. Unlike other forms of walking, race walking has a very formal definition. It is as follows:

  • Race walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs.
  • The advancing leg must be straightened (i.e., not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until in the vertical upright position.

Elite race walkers can achieve amazing speeds of faster than six minutes per mile. More attainable speeds are between nine and twelve minutes a mile for most walkers that focus on learning the technique and training regularly. For more information about race walking, check out www.racewalk.com and www.racewalkclinic.com
Breaking the mold of only needing a pair of athletic shoes and loose fitting clothes is Nordic walking. Here you need a pair of special poles to engage more of the body, burn more calories per mile, and elevate your heart rate.

If you are adventuresome, you might take a walk off the road or track and head out on a trail. Hiking is a great way to get a workout while also clearing the mind. Walking on a trail as opposed to a road has plenty of benefits. The often softer ground is easier on the body and the uneven trail helps develop balance and strength in various muscle groups. Obviously, if you are not sure footed you shouldn't head out on a trail, but otherwise it's a refreshing way to burn calories.

When a daily hike isn't enough, it's time to head out on a multiday trek. Merriam Webster states to trek is “to make one’s way arduously.” This could happen on the steep streets of San Francisco, dodging taxis in New York, or even battling a strong winter head-wind on the flat streets of Chicago. However, for us the term takes on the greater colloquial meaning of a multi-day walk through spectacular mountains and scenery. How arduous a trek may be is determined by factors like how far, how high, and how treacherous the path is that lies before you. For more information on trekking, check out our sister site www.greattreks.com.

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