Although the fitness industry is very innovative, there are many pitfalls. It can be difficult to figure out what workouts, equipment and supplements will work best for you. Instead of trying to find the latest trend or spending hundreds per month on a fancy class, it might be worth going back to basics and walking.
Walking is easy and free. Simply put your foot on the ground. Walking is great for general health and increasing physical activity. Walking is a great way to get around, and it’s also free. But what about weight loss? Walking is a form of exercise that can help you lose weight. We spoke to several fitness experts about walking for weight loss.
- It can improve your cardiovascular health
De Bolton (NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, and wellness educator) says that walking can be a great cardiovascular exercise. However, she cautions against thinking that any amount of walking will increase your fitness. Bolton recommends that you walk at a pace that is challenging for your heart and lungs. She says power walking uphill or briskly is a great way for improving your cardiovascular health.
- It’s a low-impact exercise
Alex Parren is a Certified Personal Trainer, triathlete, and writer for the eco-friendly activewear brand Sundried. He says that walking is low-impact, so it’s suitable for people who are prone to injury from running or other high-impact activities.
- It can tone your legs
Bolton suggests that walking briskly for two to four miles each day is a great way to improve your muscular endurance, strength, and definition. Bolton explains that you must extend your leg forward as you walk. This is called an eccentric contraction. It also helps stretch your quadriceps muscles. You engage in concentric contractions for your hamstrings. Walking fast, especially up an incline can help strengthen your calves, hamstrings, and glutes. Quads are a key component of downhill walking.
- It improves physical health
Walking has been shown to lower blood pressure, resting heart beat, total cholesterol and aerobic capacity.
- It can lower blood sugar
Walking regularly is a great way to manage blood sugar, whether you are diabetic or not. Bolton says that if you walk at a fast pace, your muscles will use the glucose in your bloodstream. This will eventually lead to a decrease in blood sugar levels.
- It can improve your bone density
Bolton says that by challenging yourself to walk at a rapid pace, you can build muscle and increase bone density. This is because bone density is a result of increased mineral matrix due to stress on the bones from muscle engagement. Your muscles contract when you exercise and pull on your bones, signaling the body to begin laying down more minerals to support your muscles.
- It can help strengthen your immune system
Research shows that 30 minutes of brisk walking can boost your immune system’s defenses against disease. This is a great benefit for cold and flu season.
- It can help improve your mental health
Walking is good for your mind and body, but it’s not only about your body. Lisa Olona (fitness and life coach) says that walking can improve your mood and even stimulate creativity. Walking produces endorphins like other types of exercise. This can help you feel happier and less anxious.
- It takes you outside
Parren says that walking allows you to get outside and improve your mental health. You can make your walk more enjoyable by adding a pet friend. Even if you don’t own a dog, studies have shown that walking outdoors can improve self-esteem and mood.
- It can be accessible and social
Bolton says that walking requires no special equipment, can be done anywhere and is the most affordable and accessible type of exercise. The activity is low in intensity so you can talk and walk with your family or friends. You can participate in the activity regardless of your body size, fitness level, or age, except for certain injuries and impairments.
Walking to Lose Weight
Walking has many benefits. But, can it aid in weight loss? These are the findings of our research and experts.
Is it possible to lose weight by walking? Walking is one of the most effective exercises for weight loss, whether you believe it or not. Simply put, walking fast will increase your heart rate, which in turn will help you lose weight and improve your fitness. Walking can help reduce body mass (BMI) as well as body fat percentage, according to research.
All of our experts agree that walking can help with weight loss. However, it is important to maintain a healthy diet if you want to achieve optimal results. Walking helps you lose calories and aids in weight loss. Olona says that if you reduce the amount of calories you eat and include walking, you can lose weight.
Parren says that weight loss is at its core when there is a calorie deficit. This can be achieved by eating less or exercising more. Stress, dehydration, and lack of quality sleep all play a role, but it is possible to lose weight even if you’re stressed. It is impossible to lose weight when you walk but eat in excess calories.
Walking for weight loss is influenced by your pace, distance, and the technique you use. Parren says that walking briskly increases your heart rate and helps you burn calories. This will help you lose weight.
Walking isn’t the fastest way to burn calories. Parren says that a person of 120 lbs could walk for 65 calories per mile. A 30-minute walk would burn approximately 130 calories. However, a run of around 30 minutes would burn about 300 calories. Walking can still burn calories, but there are ways to increase the intensity of your workout.
She says that if you walk 30 minutes at a fast pace with a heart beat of 130bpm, it will burn more calories than if your heart rate was only 90bpm. Walking up and down hills can increase your heart rate without increasing your pace. You could reach 170 bpm walking up hills. This is the same as running. Move slowly and purposefully, keeping your heart rate between 120 and 150 bpm. Olona agrees, “Do a solid strength walk.” The main thing is to increase your heart rate. Keep your arms extended, elbows at 90 degrees, and do a power walk to increase your heart rate.
What about 10,000 steps per day?
10,000 steps is roughly five miles. This goal has been set by many since a 12-week intervention with walking at this level resulted in weight loss, decreased waist circumference and lower blood pressure. Recent research suggests that walking less, but at a brisk pace, can be enough. The “Active 10” study showed that three 10-minute walks per day led to similar improvements in adherence and better performance. Walking for weight loss is possible regardless of whether you walk 10,000 steps in 24 hours or break it up with three 10-minute bursts of quick walking.
When you are considering your weight loss goals, it is important to consider your whole health. Olona suggests eating a balanced diet that includes lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as good fats rich in nutrients.
You need to consider calories in and calories out. It is a good idea to keep track of your calories if you are trying to lose weight. Parren warns that most people underestimate or overestimate the amount of calories they consume each day. This can cause frustration in trying to lose weight. It’s easy to track your calories using apps such as MyFitnessPal. However, it’s important that you label the foods correctly. Many of these are made by users and can be inaccurate. This can be avoided by reviewing nutrition labels and entering the data yourself.
In recent years, counting calories has been criticized. While it is not a good idea to be obsessed about tracking calories, it can help you understand the calories in foods to fuel your body properly.
How to track your progress
Monitoring your progress is worth it. Parren suggests that you monitor your progress if you’re walking for weight loss.
Surprisingly, a simple pedometer may not be the best investment if you are serious about losing weight by walking. Paren says that heart rate is one of the most important stats you can monitor. Paren notes that the higher your heart beat, the more calories you’ll burn. The heart rate monitors that you wear on your chest are more accurate than the watches, but they are also more convenient and more comfortable. For those who want to track steps, you can use your phone or any of the many fitness trackers available.
Tips for a Better Walking Workout
Walking is the most basic form of exercise. However, there are many things you can do that will spice up your workouts to make them more enjoyable.
- Get the right shoes
Bolton notes that sneakers are like tires. They have a expiration. 300-400 miles depending upon your running/walking style. To avoid hip or knee problems, you may need to replace your sneakers sooner if your pronate (turn your foot inward) or supinate (“walk on the outside of you feet”) activities. She suggests that you choose a running or cross-training shoe when choosing the type of shoe.
To accommodate natural swelling, shoes that fit properly should be at least 1/2 inch longer between your longest toes and the end.
- Entertainment for Your Walk
Bolton suggests bringing entertainment such as audiobooks or podcasts to help you stay motivated when you are alone. “I try to read a book every month by walking.” Bolton shares that it encourages her to exercise and helps to learn new things. Listening on the move has another benefit. Bolton says that some studies have shown the retention of information by active people.
- Do not forget about your posture
Bolton says that shoes and posture are crucial. It is important to breathe from your diaphragm and not your chest. When walking, keep your hips under your shoulders, your head up and your head elevated.
- Change the Terrain
You can mix up the terrain that you walk to avoid boredom and overuse injuries. Concrete and asphalt are less shock-absorbing than grass, trails, cinder or woodchip paths, or sand. This makes them better for joint health. Your body will need to use additional muscles to stabilize any changes in the footing or incline, which can increase the difficulty of your walk.
- Add hand weights
Lightweight dumbbells can help you tone your arms, chest, shoulders, and chest. They also increase your heart rate. Bolton explains that if your hand is over your heart, it will increase your heart rate. This can help you work out more intensely. If you plan to use handweights, it will be more efficient to keep them above your heart than to hold them at your sides. While holding them by your sides adds weight to your body and increases intensity, it is far more effective to hold them overhead.
Bolton recommends carrying a water bottle with you on walks to ensure that you are properly hydrated. She says that water is essential for building muscle, maintaining temperature, lubricating joints and overall health.