Walking for Weight Loss – Introduction
Is walking for weight loss an effective strategy?
When it comes to exercising for weight loss, numerous fitness experts are all about high-intensity workouts.
Things like circuit training, strength training, and interval training are viable weight loss methods, but they work because they are hard!
Many fitness experts fail to realize that not everyone enjoys being in the “hurt locker” and pushing themselves to their physical and mental limits.
Some people don’t enjoy exercise at all.
The good news is that one of the best forms of exercise for weight loss is also the most comfortable and most accessible – walking.
A lot of people are quick to dismiss walking as a legitimate form of exercise.
It’s too easy, they say.
Still, after reading this article, you will likely agree with what a valuable activity walking is – for weight loss, fitness, and health.
The advantages and benefits of walking
A lot of fitness experts dismiss walking as a form of exercise because they don’t realize just how advantageous and beneficial it is – especially compared to other types of workout.
Here’s a list of the things that make walking so valuable:
You don’t need any special equipment to walk for fitness; you don’t even need any unique clothing.
It doesn’t matter if you aren’t athletic, and you don’t need any particular skills.
You can walk almost anywhere, and any time, and you don’t need to join a gym.
In short, walking is probably the most accessible form of exercise on the planet!
#2. Easy to learn
This process of learning proper strength training form can take time and means your first few workouts will not be very productive.
You already know how to walk, so you can start enjoying all the benefits it has to offer immediately, like, today!
#3. Low risk of injury
Walking is a low-impact activity.
That means, at no point, do both of your feet leave the floor simultaneously.
Because of this, walking causes minimal musculoskeletal stress, and that means it’s unlikely to result in injury.
Of course, if you overdo it, you can still hurt yourself, but walking is easier on your body than things like running and high-impact aerobics.
#4. You can walk every day
For example, if you did heavy deadlifts two days in a row, your lower back would soon let you know that you’d done too much.
In contrast, you can walk every day.
That means it has the potential to have a more significant impact on your health, fitness, and weight loss compared to more intense but less frequent forms of exercise.
#5. You don’t have to do all your walking in a single daily session
While a lot of people prefer to do one walk per day, you don’t have to.
Instead, you can enjoy many of the benefits of walking by accumulating distance in short bouts.
For example, you could walk for 20 minutes in the morning, grab 20 minutes at lunchtime, and then enjoy another 20-minute walk in the evening.
For many people, this is more convenient and realistic than trying to exercise for an hour continuously.
#6. Walking is an excellent way to explore
Walking gets you out of your house, and that’s a much more exciting prospect than staring at the same old wall in front of an exercise bike!
If you find exercise dull, a walk could be the perfect solution as you can explore and discover new sights and sounds.
Walking does not need to be boring!
You can also walk for transport, which is often faster than taking your car, especially for short journeys.
#7. You can combine walking with other forms of exercise
Walking is an excellent form of exercise when it comes to working out, but it doesn’t have to be your only choice.
Because it’s a low-stress activity, you can walk in conjunction with other types of exercise without having a negative impact on the other things you like to do.
For example, a walk after a gym-based strength workout is a great way to relax, unwind, and cool down, warding off post-exercise Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) at the same time.
And just because you like to run doesn’t mean you can’t walk as well.
Benefits of Walking 30 Minutes a Day
Health Benefits of Walking
#1. Increased cardiovascular fitness and health
Walking is a form of cardiovascular exercise.
That means it affects your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.
Like any form of cardio, walking can develop your fitness, and increased cardiovascular fitness is linked to better cardiovascular health.
That means less risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes.
Of course, to increase your fitness, you need to walk at a brisk pace, but even that should feel very manageable.
#2. Less stress
Walking is a low-intensity, low impact, rhythmic form of exercise, and that means, for many people, it’s also relaxing.
Providing you switch your phone to silent, going for a walk also means you can unplug from technology, a common source of stress.
Because walking is a low-skill activity, you can let your mind wander and forget about the day’s problems.
#3. Increased bone mass
Despite being a low-impact activity, walking involves weight-bearing, and that can help increase bone mass.
Your bone mass tends to decline with age, in a process called osteopenia.
If allowed to progress, osteopenia can develop into osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle and prone to fracture.
Walking stimulates bone-building cells called osteoblasts to lay down new bone tissue, keeping your bones healthier as you age.
#4. Increased functional strength
Walking is a practical exercise.
That means it’s an activity of daily living.
Walking for exercise means that your walking ability will be preserved, even as you age.
Losing the ability to walk, something that happens to countless older people can have a massive impact on your life quality and even longevity.
Walking more means you are more likely to continue to walk well as you get older.
Regular walking can also help keep your leg muscles strong and healthy.
#5. Walking can help you lose weight
Like any form of physical activity, walking increases your energy expenditure.
The further you walk, the more calories you’ll burn.
While it’s impossible to say precisely how many calories walking uses, as that number depends on your weight, age, gender, and walking speed, it’s probably around 100 calories per mile.
So, if you walk three miles per day, seven days a week, you’ll burn an additional 2,100 calories per week.
Over a year, this could add up to 109,200 calories, or about 31.2 pounds of fat!
To accurately calculate calories burned walking, see the Average Calories Burned Calculator for Walking 30 Minutes.
#6. Torch visceral fat
When done right, walking for weight loss will not only reduce your weight, but it will burn the most dangerous fat in your body, visceral fat.
Visceral fat is the deep belly fat that surrounds vital organs like your kidney and liver and causes inflammation to your body and even narrowing of your blood vessels.
A sign that you have too much visceral fat is if your waist exceeds 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men.
Walking is Better Than Running for Fat Loss
How to plan your walking workouts
There is no hard and fast rule as to how far you need to walk to lose weight.
But the standard prescription is 10,000 steps per day.
For most people, this roughly equates to five miles.
The 10,000-step recommendation has no scientific basis and actually comes from the Japanese word for a pedometer.
“It turns out the original basis for this 10,000-step guideline was really a marketing strategy. In 1965, a Japanese company was selling pedometers, and they gave it a name that, in Japanese, means ‘the 10,000-step meter.” ¹
But, that said, 10000 steps is a good goal for most people and one that, with a little effort, should be achievable.
And remember, you don’t have to do all 10,000 steps in a single session.
You can accumulate them piecemeal throughout your day.
If 10,000 steps sound a little daunting, start with a more manageable number, like 3,000.
Add 1000 steps every other week until, after a couple of months, you reach your 10,000-step goal.
Build Up to a Brisk Pace
To get the most from walking, you need to walk at a brisk pace.
“Researchers from the University of Virginia found that women who did three shorter, fast-paced walks a week (plus two longer, moderate-paced ones) lost 5 times more belly fat than those who simply strolled at moderate speed 5 days a week, even though both groups burned exactly the same number of calories (400) per workout.
Those power walking also dropped more than 2 inches from their waistlines, pared about 3 times more fat from their thighs, shed 4 times more total body fat, and lost almost 8 pounds over 16 weeks—all without dieting!” ²
“Vigorous exercise raises levels of fat-burning hormones,” says lead researcher Arthur Weltman, Ph.D., director of the exercise physiology laboratory at the University of Virginia.
It also increases after-burn (the number of calories your body uses post-exercise as it recovers) by about 47% compared with lower-intensity workouts.” ibid
If you take your time, you won’t increase your heart and breathing rate enough to trigger any benefits.
Walk with Purpose
So, walk “with purpose,” striding out and swinging your arms a little too.
You should be slightly out of breath but still able to maintain a conversation.
Your heart rate will increase when you walk uphill, so feel free to slow down a little to avoid over-exerting yourself.
But then, when you hit the flat or a downhill stretch, pick the pace up again.
Ideally, you should aim to walk five days per week, but because walking is easy on your joints and muscles, seven days per week would be even better.
If you are feeling tired, walk a little slower, or cover less distance.
Keep your workouts fresh and appealing by changing routes often, walking with friends, your kids, or your dog, or listening to music or a podcast.
But, if you do wear headphones, make sure you are extra vigilant for traffic!
You don’t need a lot of gear to enjoy the benefits of walking.
A supportive pair of shoes and some comfortable clothes will do.
But, if you want to get even more from your walking workouts, consider the following:
- You'll be at the top of your game in this comfy athletic sneaker
- Synthetic and mesh upper
- Tie closure
Uncomfortable shoes can suck all the enjoyment out of walking.
These shoes from New Balance are designed specifically for women and are light, cushioned, and supportive.
They’re ideal for urban walking.
- 4E Sizing built to better fit athletes with extra wide feet
- NEUTRAL: For runners who need a balance of flexibility & cushioning
- Lightweight mesh upper with 3-color digital print delivers complete...
Under Armor make good-value sports equipment that is also excellent quality.
These running shoes are perfect for walking and will provide your feet with all the cushioning and support you need to stay comfortable.
- Use built-in GPS to see your pace and distance on screen during...
- With Active Zone Minutes, feel a buzz when you reach your target heart...
- Use 24x7 heart rate to track resting heart rate & better measure...
If you have an analytical mind and want to monitor your walking and general exercise performance, a Fitbit can be very useful.
- Automatically on, automatically connected
- Easy setup for all your Apple devices
- Quick access to Siri by saying “Hey Siri”
Long walks go a lot faster when you listen to music, an audiobook, or a podcast.
If you want to learn or enjoy entertainment while you walk, these earbuds are the way to go.
Apple AirPods are comfortable, and you won’t get tangled up in any wires.
The Easiest Way To Lose Fat Faster (One Exercise!)
Walking for Weight loss – Final Thoughts
Whether you want to lose weight, get fit, improve your health, or improve your sports performance, walking can help.
Walking is such an accessible type of workout that it’s suitable (and beneficial) for almost everyone.
And, unlike those high-intensity workouts that the media loves to write about, it’s easy and enjoyable enough to do it every day.
So, lace up your shoes, put your phone on “do not disturb,” and head out for a walk.
A daily walk will have a massive impact on how you mentally and physically feel and how you look too
Even without making major dietary changes, just by virtue of adding walking to your daily routine, you can lose 12 pounds or so over 12 weeks.
Add in some healthy dietary changes, and that can account for another pound a week, which in total would add up to 24 pounds over three months.
This makes walking for weight loss a powerful habit and tool to get fit.
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