How can walking help you lose weight? Is it possible by just doing this exercise regularly? The answer to that question is yes, of course, you can, but it’s not just a matter of stepping out of your door and going for an easy stroll.
It’s fantastic that you are thinking about being active and losing weight, and walking is a perfect way to get started for sure. It’s exactly what I did 4 years ago when I started my weight loss and fitness journey.
Before I get into the various methods and tactics for your walks, it’s really important to understand that the right diet is going to be a major factor in your weight loss and fitness journey. I’m not a nutritionist so I’m not going to tell you what you should do, but it doesn’t take a genius to understand that what you put into your body will have an impact on how it performs.
It’s also important to note that if you consume more calories than you burn then you either won’t lose any weight or you will gain it. Here’s an example:
It is estimated that to burn a pound of fat it takes around 3,500 calories. So if you cut 500 to 1,000 calories a day you could expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.
This means that if you currently eat 2,500 calories a day you would need to burn 3,000 to 3,500 to lose weight. Consuming less and burning more will give different results for each individual, but I hope this helps you understand the basics of weight loss.
Understanding Your Diet
I’m not going to preach to you what you should or shouldn’t eat, that’s completely up to you. Personally, I have followed a Plant-Based Diet for over 3 years now and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I am in the best health I have ever been as far as I can remember.
As I said, I’m not telling you what you should eat, but you should understand that if you’re going to eat processed rubbish more often than you should then eventually you are going to feel the effects of the poor diet. I did it for years where I ate a very lazy way and the food choices I made were not great. Ultimately, along with smoking it nearly killed me.
All I would say to you is that if you want to improve your health and fitness levels, then do some research on eating healthy in a way that works for you.
The Benefits of Walking
There are many benefits to walking that I want to outline individually within the post. As I write this post, the whole world is in lockdown due to COVID-19 so it’s a great time to think about getting healthy and fit, and of course, we don’t know in the coming years if the lockdowns become an annual event (I really hope not).
Anyway, enough with the doom and gloom, here are the benefits of walking.
You don’t need a gym membership to walk and you don’t need to buy any special equipment to do it. Unless you need to purchase a comfortable pair of shoes of course.
How many people do you know that have a gym membership that doesn’t really use it? Walking might not just be free, it might actually save you money in the long run.
Walking Can Improve Your Mood
Walking, or other forms of exercise can actually improve your mental health studies have shown. It has been proven not only to lighten your mood overall but helps with anxiety and depression.
At the end of the day, are you better off sitting indoors or getting out into the fresh air and going for a walk – I know which one works for me.
How did I come up with the idea of writing this post?
I was out walking my dogs as it happens. I have lost count of the number of times I have been out for a walk, run, or bike ride where I have had a weight lifted from my shoulders, relaxed and had so many positive thoughts about many things I want to do or say – it really can be quite uplifting.
There is a lot of stress in our lives today so if things start getting too much, go out for a walk – I guarantee you will feel better for it.
It Burns Calories
One of the main points of this article was can you lose weight walking. The answer is yes, walking will help you burn calories but there are a number of factors as to how many you might burn.
Going out for a casual walk will of course burn calories because you are doing an activity. But if you want to burn more then you need to incorporate a few additional factors into this.
- Your Walking Speed – upping your pace will get your heart pumping and you will burn more.
- Distance – going further or walking for longer will burn additional calories.
- The Terrain – there are big differences in energy expenditure depending on whether you are walking on a flat surface, hills, off-road, etc.
If you want to understand how many calories you are burning you could always use a Calorie Calculator.
Strengthens Your Legs
As you are carrying your own body weight for a period of time over a certain terrain, you are going to start to develop more toned and stronger muscles in your legs.
For a great leg workout, try walking up hills or stairs, or if you’re really attached to the gym, put an incline on the treadmill.
There are a few other exercises you can do whilst walking, like squats and lunges to really help develop that leg strength and tone – who doesn’t want great looking legs for the summer right?
Can Help Alleviate Joint Pain
The one thing people always say to me is “running on the road is bad for your joints”. I’m not disagreeing with that at all, in fact, that’s why I primarily run on the trails.
However, we aren’t talking about running here, we are talking about walking and that’s a different ball game altogether.
Believe it or not, walking can help with improving your range of motion and mobility due to the fact it increases blood flow to tense areas and it helps to build muscle around the joints. Stronger muscles mean more support, meaning a reduction in pain.
It Improves Your Breathing
This might be obvious, but then again maybe not.
When you walk you breath more heavily than when you are stationary. So as you are walking you will breathe in more oxygen, in turn, increasing your overall lung capacity. Greater lung capacity will, therefore, increase your stamina and overall exercise performance. It’s a win-win situation for such a basic exercise.
There are many other ways that walking can improve your life overall, most of which are medical studies. These things include but are not limited to:
- Improving the Immune System
- Fewer asthma flares than other exercises
- Increases Metabolism
- Better Sleep
- Can help deal with chronic pain
- Boost Bone Strength
- Can lower the risk of Chronic Diseases
So now that we have gone over some of the benefits, it’s time to look at ways to incorporate different walking workouts into your routine. As this is geared more towards beginners I will keep it simple.
The first thing I would consider purchasing if you don’t have one already is a fitness tracker. The reason for this is that it will count the steps you are doing per day so you can begin to set some targets for the number of steps in a day.
Which brings us nicely onto the first workout. The one thing that we should aim for is a minimum of 10,000 steps over the course of a day. You will do a fair few just doing your normal daily routine, but add in a walk and you should be targeting this number as a minimum. When you get comfortable with this then aim for 15,000 or ever 20,000+ over the course of a day.
Workout 1 – Push the Pace
Warm-up for 5 minutes at an easy pace
Walk as fast as you can in one direction for 10 minutes
Turn around and walk back, slowing the pace as you get towards the end of the walk so you cool down for 5 minutes.
Workout 2 – The Long Haul
Fairly simple this one and probably suited to a weekend as you will be walking for 60+ minutes.
Start off at an easy pace for 5 minutes to warm-up
50+ minutes at a faster, yet comfortable pace for 50+ minutes – I try to aim for at least a 3.5mpm pace
5 minutes at a slow cool-down pace.
Aim to do some light stretching at the end.
Workout 3 – Intervals
Start off at a 10-minute warm-up pace
For the next 10 minutes walk for 1 minute as fast as possible, 1 minute easy, and do this 5 times
10 minutes at an easy cool-down pace
As you start to get fitter you can increase the working time to something like 2 minutes fast pace, 1 minute slow for 20 minutes.
Just aim to improve over time.
Workout 4 – Hills
This is the one that will really get you working hard. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that has a few inclines then great. If not, use a treadmill or some stairs.
As usual, 5 to 10 minutes easy walk to warm-up
Find a hill that is reasonable in length (takes at least a couple of minutes to walk up)
Walk 2 minutes at a hard pace up the hill, turn around and return at an easy pace. Complete a minimum of 5 cycles of this. Increase as you get fitter.
5 to 10 minutes easy pace cool-down walk.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area that is hilly in general then you could also just do a normal walk but push it on the hills.
If you prefer to workout on a treadmill then just set it to a hill workout and push it for 30 to 60 minutes.
Workout 5 – Fartlek
I know, a funny word. The word Fartlek is actually Swedish and means ‘speed play’. And that’s exactly what this workout is all about – having a bit of fun on this walk.
There is no real structure, it’s about how you feel and changing up the pace as you see fit. It might go something like this:
Warm-up for 5 to 10 minutes at an easy pace.
Now mix things up a little by changing up the pace from fast as possible, to steady over various periods of time.
For instance, I might be walking at a steady pace and say to myself, “I’m going to walk as fast as I can to that tree in the distance”, and when I get there slow back down.
It’s all about getting out and enjoying the walk and mixing things up as you please and when you please. I do this a lot when I’m running as it gives you little goals that keep you motivated.
I hoped this post has been of use to you and perhaps has motivated you to get outside and walk. It is the simplest form of exercise and literally, anyone can do it.
How can walking help you lose weight? Incorporate the workouts outlined above with a healthy diet and you will see many changes in both your physique and fitness levels. It’s exactly where I started back in 2016 when I had health issues and it worked wonders for me. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been.
If you have any comments or questions then please feel free to leave them below.
All the very best,