**WALKING’S GREATEST APPEAL TO RUNNERS, IS THAT IT IS A LOW IMPACT AEROBIC ACTIVITY, GENTLE ON JOINTS THAT CAN’T OR WON’T TAKE THE POUNDING OF RUNNING. An easy walking speed allows listening to music and audio-books and lengthy cell phone conversations. It’s an enjoyable speed, but not the kind of intense workout pace that delivers an after-burn and glorious exhaustion, like that which follows a tough training run. And possibly the reason some runners reject walking as a legitimate athletic activity.
Walks don’t generate as high an energy burn as running, but there are methods to step-up walking session intensity. Check out the suggestions of Marc Lindsay, writing for the MyFitnessPal.com blog, in his article “7 Variations of Walking that Torch Calories”.
In order of increasing intensity Lindsay explains and differentiates between brisk, power, and race walking, as well as Chi, Nordic, and marathon walking. Lastly, he recommends stroller walking for parents who use strollers to push children from place to place.
Is a child needed? Earned Runs thinks anyone, even those who are not parents, can load a jogging stroller with weights in place of a real live child, and obtain a decent aerobic workout. It’s how runners TRAIN who plan to race pushing a stroller, and how research on stroller running has been conducted!
Irish research performed by a running dad-scientist (O’Sullivan 2015) to identify the effects of RUNNING while pushing a stroller (loaded with a 22lb weight) on form and injury risk did not reveal a significant down side. In spite of this finding, the runnersworld.com article that featured O’Sullivan’s study indicated his research team “recommends runners incorporate a series of specific exercises into their post-run routine”, which are described.
Another study, out of Seattle Washington, looked at the kinematics (locomotion biomechanics) and energy expenditure of stroller RUNNING. It found that compared with stroller-less running, stroller pushing while running resulted in decreased speed regardless of technique: 2 handed, 1-handed, or push/chase methods*.
The slower pace explained why the study participants’ energy expenditure (calorie burn) did not increase with the extra work of stroller pushing, the scientists indicated. However, further mathematical modeling by researchers showed that if speed were to be maintained at stroller-less levels, energy expenditure would increase 5-8% with stroller-running, depending on technique. Two-handed pushing was the most “energetically economical”, costing the least energy, (+5%) and the “push/chase” method was the most “energetically costly”. (+8%). The authors thought that stroller-runner parents seeking a tougher workout should opt to use the latter technique.
Scientific investigations into WALKING with a stroller are few and mostly focus on energy expenditure (metabolic equivalents/MET’s) while participants perform everyday tasks like supermarket shopping, which does not approximate the effort made to walk aerobically for exercise while pushing a stroller. The Compendium of Physical Activities puts the stroller walking energy cost in METS at 4.0, compared to running 10-minute miles at 9.8 and general bicycling at 7.5. That’s not a very encouraging match-up for those planning to hope to push a stroller for aerobic exercise!
Wait; there’s more science to stroller walking that has better news.
One group of researchers (JF Greany and K Greany) studied women in their 20’s who pushed a weighted single or double stroller at speeds of 3.0 and 4.0 miles per hour, which translates to 20-minute/mile and 15-minutes/mile walking speeds, respectively. The results showed that in performing this activity, the “absolute mean intensity for single/double stroller was 4.8/5.3 metabolic equivalents (METs) at 3.0 mph and 7.0/7.0 METs at 4.0 mph”. It was concluded that moving at a speed of at least 3 mph, “meets the absolute intensity guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory fitness and can yield health and fitness benefits”. Yay! **
The take-away messages from this stroller-running and stroller-walking discussion seem to be:
There’s another potential use for stroller-pushing training, golfing endurance building.
In my experience, moving a modern golf push-cart over a 9- or 18-hole course is fun outdoor exercise but fatiguing. My golf swing needs all the help it can get, and tired arms and legs worsen both distance and short games. One spring afternoon, it occurred to me that moving my golf clubs around the course with the push cart had nearly the same feel as pushing our grandchild in her stroller through the park, and hit on the idea of buying one to help build strength for both activities. I was able to purchase a floor model at a discounted price and then fill it with weights for exercise purposes.
Pushing both golf cart and stroller seems to work my entire posterior chain of muscles when the terrain is slightly hilly. My hamstrings and triceps burn at the end of good session. Regardless of the lack of research that simulates this personal pushing-workout, I feel confident it’s a building my stamina. Does pushing a weighted stroller mimic pushing a weighted sled? Trainers out there...help me understand if not correct!***
No stroller? Check with neighborhood families, especially if one parent is a runner. You might be able to borrow one that is not currently in service to trial stroller-walking . Secondhand shops are another option.
Simple walking can be transformed into a higher intensity, joint-preserving exercise that stands alone as your primary sport or serves as a cross-training activity that burns calories.
Seven variations are offered in the Lindsay article.
At the same time, walking remains a means of experiencing the great outdoors without special equipment, meditating in the presence of nature, covering considerable distances with vigor, and joining others in movement.
Walking’s a winning activity for many.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*"Push/Chase was defined as alternating between pushing the stroller ahead of the runner with both hands and running independently behind the stroller."
** Moderate intensity physical activity was defined in a different Australian study on as between 3-6 METs as “operationally defined” by “current epidemiological studies.”
*** Excerpt from "PUSHING SLED EXERCISES" BY KIM NUNLEY for Chron.com
"Pushing a weighted sled requires the contribution from an array of muscles in your lower body, core and arms. Driving the sled forward are your hip extensors, which include your gluteus maximus and hamstrings, your quadriceps, which extend your knees, and your calves, which handle movement at the ankles as you push off the ground. Your abdominals and obliques isometrically contract to keep your torso in a static position. Your shoulders and triceps help out by keeping your arms in a locked out position."
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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