Yes. In fact, my favorite exercise for most people who first begin a fitness plan is power walking. You can do it anywhere, anytime, and the risk for injury is low. You can perform it outside when the weather is nice or on a treadmill if it's rainy or too cold or hot. (Treadmill walking gives you the added advantage of controlling the grade to gradually make your workout more challenging.)
Power walking is not the same as regular walking. For optimum calorie-burning, aim to walk at about a 4.5-mile-per-hour pace. Fitness scientists at Washington University in St. Louis found if you walk at this pace, you can burn almost as many calories (201 per 30 minutes, based on a 140-pound woman) as someone jogging at about the same speed (223 calories per 30 minutes). The reason: You use the same amount of energy to stay in motion. Of course, 4.5 mph is a fast walk, and if you're just starting, you shouldn't expect to hit that speed right away. Begin at a slower pace and gradually work up to this pace.
So how do you find your beginning pace? Drive around your neighborhood and measure a mile with your car's odometer. Then go out and walk the mile. If it takes you 20 minutes, that's 3 mph; 15 minutes is 4 mph; 13 minutes is 4.5 mph, and 12 minutes is a highly athletic 5 mph. If you have trouble measuring your pace while walking, try to maintain the pace where you're just about ready to break into a jog, like you're late for an appointment.
Aim for a minimum of five power walks a week. Beginners should strive for 10 to 30 minutes per walk. Try to add two minutes per session each week. Remember that your workout time should include a few minutes to warm up, cool down, and stretch. Don't worry if you can only manage a 10-minute walk at first. Your pace and endurance increase the more you walk.
To get the best power-walking workout, make sure you:
Stride Right. Long strides are less efficient and more tiring than quick heel-ball-toe steps. Concentrate on landing on your heels, rolling through your instep, then propelling yourself with a push off your toes.
Keep Your Head Up. Walk with your chin up and look about 10 feet ahead. This keeps your neck and head in picture-perfect posture.
Get In The Swing. Bend your elbows 90 degrees, close your hands in relaxed fists, and swing them in an arc from your waist to your chest, keeping them close to your body. Swinging your arms helps you walk faster, burn more calories, and build upper-body strength.