Anyone looking a new weight loss objective in the face may find the prospect of beginning an exercise program daunting. Many factors can make fitness seem overwhelming. The anxiety associated with going to a gym, the cost of buying sports equipment, the time commitment, and even the fear of aggravating old injuries can all pile up and get in the way.
Getting started is always the hardest part, but what if all it took to start dropping pounds was to do a little more of something you already do every day? What if all you needed to do was go for a walk? It turns out, the simple act of walking can be enough to begin shedding pounds and getting you on your way to a healthier lifestyle and the forever figure you have been looking for.
How Long to Walk Each Day for Weight Loss
It would be easy to believe that you need to begin an intensive program of running or cycling or strength training to drop pounds or trim your waistline, but it turns out that walking burns more calories than most people think. Running a mile burns around 100 calories for the average person, and you may be tempted to think walking would burn far less. Studies have shown, however, that the average person burns around 90 calories by walking that same mile at a brisk pace.
Even a brisk walk for 10 minutes at a time three times a day is enough to get the same benefits of setting aside a half an hour for walking. What really matters is how many minutes you spend walking in a week. Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of walking a week to achieve weight loss. For individuals who have lost a large amount of weight, it may be necessary to walk more to keep the pounds off, so a recommendation of 200 minutes a week is perhaps a better target for some people.
The good news about walking is that you can fit it into nearly any schedule, no matter how busy you are! Unlike other sports or going to the gym, walking can be more easily fit into small spaces in your schedule. Studies have shown that three 15-minute walks throughout the day have the same overall effect on weight loss. If these small walks are timed after meals, they can even lead to better management of blood sugar after you eat.
Walking Helps Preserve Lean Muscle
The advantage of walking as part of a weight loss program are the benefits you gain down the road. Simply restricting your caloric intake to lower your overall weight may get rid of body fat, but you may also lose lean muscle mass if you are not exercising. Keeping a higher percentage of lean muscle helps you burn more calories down the road as muscle burns calories faster than fat.
Weight management is a long-term process, and the gains and losses you rack up each day make the difference over time. It may not seem like walking at a brisk pace would be enough, but walking alone can get results. A study of women asked to walk more than 50 minutes a day three times a week for three months showed that they lost 1.5% of their total body fat and a little over an inch off their waistlines.
The Health Benefits of Walking
Even a simple act like walking for exercise can take some planning if you want to have real health results. Small tips can help make a difference in establishing a new routine. Planning out a walking routine and sticking to it can help you get an idea of what changes you will need to make in your daily or weekly routine. Studies have shown that regular walking has a host of benefits for your entire body and mind, with improvements in mood, blood sugar levels, and more being evident early on in a walking workout program.
If you are starting out with a walking plan, the first thing to remember is to start slowly. This is recommended for any program of exercise, and walking is no different. It is possible to stress your cardiovascular system or possibly even get shin splints or other problems with your feet and ankles if you start with too much too fast. As with any other exercise, you should consult your doctor before you begin, especially if you have a history of heart disease. It is also very important that you speak with your doctor if you have had a gastric bypass or other procedure such as an endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty.
When it comes to the walking itself, you will also want to start slowly by walking for 10 minutes or more at a moderate pace to warm up. After that, though, fast can be a good thing. The pace you keep while walking will have a direct impact on the number of calories you burn. Increasing your walking speed to over three miles per hour or even maintaining a pace over three and a half miles per hour if you can manage it will help you raise the level of calories burned.
Power walking, or increasing your pace to a point that it takes effort to sustain your walking speed, is a powerful way to increase the effectiveness of your walking workout over regular walking. Power walking can be a great cardio workout, but not everyone is going to be able to do it right off the bat.
If you are having trouble maintaining a high walking pace, but want to increase the effectiveness of your workout, you can try interval training. With this form of exercise, you maintain your normal walking speed, and then increase to a very high pace for a short period of time, then slow back down to your original pace. By repeating this process several times in a row, you can begin to get your body used to the more intense cardio workout you need to burn fat faster.
Fitness Trackers Help Make a Difference
Using fitness trackers is a great way to help you get a handle on your workout. Many people find that having small reminders, notifications, or even a simple way to see how far you walked every day can help immensely with keeping you motivated to get out and walk.
These trackers can be everything from old-school pedometers to fancy fitness trackers or even the phone or smartwatch you may already own. If you are going to use one of these devices to help in your walking workout, it is important to understand what these devices are capable of and what they are not as useful for. Not all types of devices offer the same benefits. Most will work if you are just trying to get a general idea on how far you are walking in a day, but if you are doing specific calorie planning in your diet, some devices may not be accurate enough.
Most fitness trackers and smartphone apps that attempt to count your calories for you can be wildly inaccurate. Some estimates put the margin for error as high as 23% since these devices cannot take into account environmental factors like ambient temperature, humidity, and whether or not you are encountering hills on your walk.
The more effective way to use devices to help you with your walking program is to set a goal of the number of steps you walk in a given day. The accelerometers in phones, smart watches, and fitness trackers are generally quite accurate about the number of steps you take. A dedicated pedometer will be even more accurate, but starting with a phone you already have is an even easier way to get going.
Places to Walk
The best part about walking is you can do it nearly everywhere. Unlike some sports that require a gym or a trip out to a park or local trail, you can start walking almost anywhere! Beginning slowly and ramping up your workout over time is always wise, and as you build up your conditioning, you can begin adding some challenge to your routine.
Incorporating the terrain if you live in a hilly area is a great way to start upping the intensity of your workouts. Including hills in your workout, and trying to keep your pace high even when going up hills, will rapidly increase the intensity of the cardio workout you are getting. Even if you don’t live in a hilly place, finding a building with a staircase to add into your walk could help knock off a few extra calories.
Shoes for Walking Workouts
You may have been walking your whole life without giving much thought to what you were wearing. Many people who pick shoes for style or comfort may still end up walking many miles, but if you are trying to regularly walk for exercise, you will probably find it is better to buy specific shoes designed for walking.
There is no such thing as the one “best” shoe. What kind of shoe will work for you depends on how your foot is built, your stride, and whether your feet roll in or out when you take a step. Rolling in, or pronating, happens when your arch flattens out causing the ankle to roll in toward the midline of the body. People with a pronated foot strike will often benefit from more support in the sole and arch of a shoe. A supinated foot strike, on the other hand, is the term used to describe what happens if your ankle rolls outward when you take a step. People who have a tendency to supinate will often be helped by a shoe that has less support, allowing the arch to flatten out more as your foot lands on the ground.
In both cases, walking shoes are often less stiff than running shoes. While preferences will differ from person to person, you should be able to bend and twist the sole of a walking shoe more than you would a running shoe. Since your feet don’t need the support of a running or hiking shoe when you are walking, softer materials can be used, which will help prevent blisters.
Walking is Only Part of the Answer
The journey to your forever figure is often a long one, and no one thing is going to get you there. Exercise alone is not enough, and neither is changing your diet without modifying your lifestyle. For some people, reaching your goals might take more than changes in diet and exercise. That is why we offer several procedures here at NEW You Weight Loss to help you get to your forever figure.
Weight loss procedures are not for everyone, but for some individuals, they can mean the difference between struggling to reach your goals and finally seeing success. Procedures like our ORBERA® weight loss balloon do require changes in your lifestyle, and if you are going to be exercising regularly, even just to walk, you will need to be very careful about the food you eat to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. At NEW You Weight Loss, we are there for you every step of the way. Schedule a consultation today to talk to us about what options or procedures are available and how we can walk with you down the road to a healthier you.