Shape Up NYC: A Guide to Power Walking
Looking to keep active? Going for a walk has many benefits: power walking can help you sleep better, reduce stress, uplift your mood, lower your blood pressure, increase your energy level, and manage your weight. Whether you're now stretching your legs or looking to pick up the pace, use this guide from our fitness experts at Shape Up NYC to help you go the extra mile!
Note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Shape Up NYC classes are canceled until further notice.
Staying on track, no matter your fitness level, can be challenging at times. Try these tips to help keep you inspired to keep on moving:
- Print your walking plan; post it where you can see it each morning and set a reminder or alarm for your next walk
- Dress in layers to ensure you are prepared for a change in weather or temperature
- Wear comfortable sneakers with good support (or boots, if you are walking on a nature path)
- Track your progress using your phone or a fitness tracker
- Share your plan with an accountability partner, or have a friend select a walking plan or fitness challenge
- Create a motivating playlist. Check out NYC Parks' Live from NYC Parks music playlist!
Please remember to wear a mask and practice social distancing when outside. Discuss our guide with your health care provider before getting started.
Stretch: Try Pre-Workout Walking Lunges
- Stand upright with your feet together and your hands on your hips or to your side.
- Take one step forward with your left leg.
- Lower your hips to the ground, bending both knees at a 90-degree angle. Pay attention to your form here; your left knee should point toward but not touch the ground. Your right knee should align with your ankle.
- Pause for a little then push off your right foot and step forward.
- Repeat steps 1-4 on the opposite leg.
Pick a Walking Plan
Choose a plan that fits your goals.
Remember when power walking or running, pay attention to your pace; you should be able to hold a conversation. If you can't, try scaling back.
Beginner Walking Plan
Time/Frequency: 25 minutes per day, 1-3 days per week
Walking Route: Stick to flat surfaces, such as sidewalks, streets, and paths without an incline.
- Warm-Up: Start walking at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
- Push Yourself: 10 minutes at an increased speed, or alternating 60 seconds of increased speed with 60 seconds of the comfortable pace. Then increase to a moderate pace for 5 minutes.
Intermediate Walking Plan
Time/Frequency: 35 minutes per day, 2-4 days per week
Walking Route: Challenge yourself by finding inclines, such as hills and steps. Increase your stride by taking bigger steps.
- Warm-Up: Walk for 5 minutes at an easy pace. Include stretching for two minutes after your warm-up. Make sure to perform stretches on each side and hold for 30 seconds on each side.
- Push Yourself: 20 minutes at an increased speed, or alternating 60 seconds of increased speed with 60 seconds of the comfortable pace. Then increase to a moderate pace for 5 minutes.
Cool down by walking at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes.
End Your Walk With These Post-Workout Stretches
Try these stretches to help reduce the chance of injury, increase your performance, and decrease soreness of muscles.
Standing Quad Stretch
This workout stretches the big muscle in the front of the thigh.
- Stand near a wall, vertical surface, or chair if you need support.
- Stand on your right leg and bend your left knee, bringing your heel towards your bottom (your left knee pointed towards the ground). Grab your ankle for support.
- Stand tall as you pull your belly button to your spine.
- Repeat standing on your left leg. Hold for 30 - 60 seconds on each side.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Try this workout to stretch the three muscles in the back of your thigh, which run from the hip to the knee. These muscles help us walk, run, and jump.
- Stand up tall and step your right leg out. You are going to dig your heel into the ground while your toes are pointed to the sky.
- With your left knee bent (think soft knees), and heel still dug into the ground, lean forward.
- Place hands on your right leg and look straight ahead to keep a neutral spine.
- Repeat on your left leg. Hold for 30 - 60 seconds on each side.
Standing Bent-Over Calf Stretch
This stretch keeps calf muscles lengthened to make sure that walking and running are done correctly.
- Stand up straight and step one leg in front of you.
- Point your toes at a 45-degree angle with your heel on the ground.
- Gently bend the back knee (the front leg should remain straight).
- Bend over slightly at the waist until you are able to reach your toes or calf to make a gentle stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.