What’s not to love about going for a walk? It’s free, simple, and full of health benefits. Can it, however, help you lose weight? Can you really lose weight by walking?
Walking, on the other hand, may help prevent weight gain over time, according to the findings of a 15-year study.
Walking alone, however, may be difficult to lose weight: “Without dietary changes, you [would] need to do a lot of exercises consistently for a number of weeks to see a shift in the scales,” says Shelley Keating, Ph.D. “But it is, of course, possible!” she adds.
Here’s how to make it happen.
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT BY WALKING
Focusing on increasing the intensity, frequency, or duration of your walks is your best bet for losing fat through walking.
For example, increasing your walking pace (intensity) is a simple way to burn more calories. To put it another way: According to Harvard Medical School estimates, a 155-pound/70-kilogram person walking for 30 minutes at a pace of 3.5mph/5.6kph burns approximately 149 calories. However, if the speed is increased to 4mph/6.4kph, the total calories consumed rise to 167.
You can also make your walks more intense by including hills. According to Keating, incline walks add variety to your walking routine and quickly raise your heart rate.
You may have heard that exercise, particularly high-intensity exercise, causes a “afterburn” effect that keeps you burning fat for hours after your workout. However, while brisk walking burns more calories after a workout than leisurely walking, the amount is minimal, or “the equivalent of one or two pieces of fruit,” according to Keating. “The key to fat loss is how much energy you expend during each exercise session, as well as how many calories you consume through your diet.”
Consistency is also important for long-term fat loss, so try to incorporate walking into your weekly routine.
If you’re new to walking, start with 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity cardio (brisk walking) per week, as recommended by the CDC. Try to walk at a moderate pace that raises your breathing and heart rate while still allowing you to talk. Increase the intensity, frequency, and/or duration gradually to maintain the benefits.
To make walking a habit, try going first thing in the morning, “before you get busy doing anything else,” advises Jason Karp, PhD. Set your clothes and shoes right next to your bed to make things easier. Karp adds that this way, they’ll be the first thing you see when you wake up.
Combine your consistent walking routine with a healthy diet for the best results. A registered dietitian can assist you in determining your daily caloric needs for fat loss.
WALKING HAS ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
A regular walking routine provides benefits that extend beyond fat loss.
Walking is good for your heart, for one thing: Walking briskly for at least 40 minutes two or three times per week is associated with a near 25% reduction in heart failure risk among postmenopausal women, according to a 2018 study.
Increasing physical activity levels also improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight in people with Type 2 diabetes, according to research. According to research, even small increases in physical activity, such as walking an extra 1.2 miles, 30 minutes, or 2,400 steps per day, can help you achieve these health benefits.
Overall, the CDC suggests doubling the minimum physical activity guidelines to reduce your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. To put it another way: This equates to 5 hours per week of moderate-intensity cardio. That is 60 minutes per day, five days per week.
Make strides every day toward your fitness and nutrition goals, such as walking more steps.
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