To sum it up quickly: they're better than a stairmaster!
I started a power walking group in my neighborhood for people who don't necessarily have the time to go to the gym, or who just aren't into the gym and traditional workouts. Our first few times out have been really good. Late in the evening, with our little wrist weights strapped on, we pick a different route every night and just tear a path through a few miles of New York City pavement.
The best part of a power walk is finding a good hill to power up; the longer and steeper, the better! We found some good hills in a park nearby, and started looping them towards the tail end of our walk. Talk about a good hamstring, calf and quad burn! Just a few fast paced marches up a hill really takes a considerable amount of energy and effort. Your stomach even burns, and I love that, because you can just see all those bad little calories just evaporating away into the sky.... You also wake up the next day looking DAMN fabulous!
So now, I'm ALL about the hills! I am on a mad hill hunt, and will try to plot a route that has the most hilly streets I can find to take the group on. At the end, we wind up at the park and do hill laps. The group is gonna just LOVE me for that! Too bad we don't live in San Franciso!! I'm sure power walking out there would take on a whooole new meaning! ;)
It's a pretty good, uncomplicated way to go about getting a workout in, and I'm going to keep at it. Hey, maybe some mountains would be a good next step..... ;)