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Find Your Stride
Everyone has a natural stride length that is most comfortable, and it may be shorter or longer than someone else’s stride. One of the most common mistakes you can make with fitness walking is to increase the length of your strides in order to walk faster. That’s OK for running, not walking, as over-striding can strain your muscles and joints, causing pain in the arches of your feet, and your knees, hips and heels. If you want to walk faster, focus on taking more steps per minute, not taking longer steps.
How fast should you walk? It depends on your fitness level, stride length, and turnover rate. Here are some general guidelines:
Be aware of your posture: Stand as tall as possible, feet pointing forward, abs engaged, back straight, neck in line with your shoulders (not forward), head up, and eyes gazing about 10 feet ahead of you. When walking, your center of gravity to move forward, not side-to-side (known as hip sway). Your pelvis will rotate forward with each step, but should not turn from side to side. Try to keep your legs in line with your hips and toes pointing forward, not inward (pigeon-toed) or outward (duck-toed).
Pump It Up—Your Arms, That Is
You've probably seen those “serious” fitness walkers who pump their arms vigorously as if they were running. Even if it makes you feel self-conscious, this is the most efficient way to walk—especially at higher speeds. When your arms are too straight, it can be difficult (even painful) to pump them enough to achieve a good speed. And if your hands swell during exercise, keeping your elbows bent can help avoid or minimize that.
Keep your arms close to your sides and bend your elbows at 90 degrees. Keep them bent at a right angle while you walk. When pumping your arms, the movement should come from your shoulders, not your elbows, and your hands shouldn't rise higher than chest level. Finally, avoid clenching your hands. Imagine you’re carrying something delicate in them, like a raw egg—don’t squeeze tight enough to break it, nor so loose that you drop it. Try not to exaggerate the movement of your arms, but do use them to your advantage. You can only walk as fast as your arms pump.