Of power walking and the power of perspective

Remember when people started power walking?

I remember I had a friend back in the late 80s, early 90s, who was a power walker. I’d see her and a lot of middle aged women out there going to town and I’d think, “That will never be me.”

Never say never.

This morning, I got up, had breakfast, and decided that I’d rather go for a walk through my parents’ neighborhood than to stay indoors on the treadmill. It was sunny, 85 (though still inviting for someone who really hasn’t been warm in 8 months), and breezy. I popped my new iPod shuffle in and took off.

The first thing I noticed is that my heart rate was stuck at a stubborn 108. I picked up my pace. When I did so, I threw some arms in and realized that what I was doing looked an awful lot like what I do on the Nordic Trac at home. I then realized, it also looks a helluva lot like — banish the thought — power walking. But there I went, swinging my arms, until my hands were coming about eye level. And after a few minutes of this I caught a flash of my heart rate monitor: 137! Whoa. Exactly where I needed it to be and it took a heckuva lot less time to get it there than it’s been taking at the gym!

I punched up the music and took off.

I highly recommend walking in neighborhoods of strange cities (or, in this case, cities where you haven’t lived in over ten years).

One, it’s fun to look at the houses. I got to see a number of lovely gardens and talk to quite a few tabby and ginger haired cats along the way.

Two, most residential neighborhoods are characterized by rolling hills or slight inclines. This neighborhood was perfect in that I would be going up and down and then level for a minute or two at a time. When I was going uphill, I could drop the arms a little and maintain my heart rate exactly where I wanted it. When I was going downhill, I could bring them back up.

Three, because it was breezy (as in “where the wind comes sweeping down the plains” kind of breezy) it was loud enough that I felt comfortable singing! And, even if they could hear me, no one here knows who I am, so who really cares? Besides it’s hot and most people were indoors with their windows shut tight enjoying the air conditioning.

So, I plotted out a route and stuck with it and after an hour and ten minutes, I had burned 510 calories with an average heart rate of 69%, which, ironically, is about what I burn in a typical spinning class these days! Not so shabby for a morning stroll around the block — well, several blocks.

Power walking. Who would have thought it? But, preconceived notions aside, sign me up. And, as I told my mother, as I came back in and threw myself down on the couch, I love being old enough to not care what I look like. So what if the neighbors look out the windows and say, “Who is that crazy woman out there singing Linkin Park and swinging her arms like a demon?” A fit, firm, and fabulous one, who isn’t putting any stress on her joints and is burning fat like it’s going out of style.

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1 comment so far

  1. Q on

    walking in neighborhoods of strange cities will keep the neighbors from complaining about the singing!


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