Does Walking Help you to Lose Weight?
If walking helps you to lose weight, why are there so many obese golfers? It was a question that I remember asking my mother as a child and which came back to me as I was watching this weekend’s Open Championship at St Andrews.
My mother was a nurse but she never could answer the question; I have always suspected that it has something to do with the 19th hole and golfers do tend to graze on some sort of snack throughout their round. The truth of the matter is that walking is good for you while golf sends your stress levels into low orbit. The famous saying that ‘golf is a good walk spoiled’ has a measure of truth in my experience of the sport.
It is also true that while any form of exercise is good for you, in order to get the best results that exercise should be fairly intense. There is clearly a difference between strolling around the block or the local park and a vigorous march up a long hill.
It is also very important to note that exercise alone will have very little effect on your weight unless you watch what you are putting inside your body. A healthy diet is just as important if not more so than the exercise that you are doing. A sensible weight loss plan addresses both diet and exercise. Adding a resistance workout to diet and walking will yield the best results.
Besides losing weight, there are a number of very good reasons to leave the car behind whenever possible and for good old fashioned walking instead. Even if you have a good health and fitness plan –try to walk as much as possible—it all adds up.
The Benefits of Walking
• It helps you to lose weight
• It will strengthen your heart
• It tones your legs, arms and butt
• It strengthens bone density and helps with osteoporosis
• It reduces the risk of diseases like diabetes and asthma
• It is good for brain function
• It gives you an energy boost
• It simply gives you a feeling of wellbeing
Losing Weight by Walking
Walking is a great exercise for many reasons, it is cheap, convenient and relatively easy and for many people with painful joints it might be the best and only feasible choice of exercise. It can most certainly help you to lose weight but it should be done briskly and you need to keep your diet under control.
There are no absolutes when it comes to weight loss but most of the accepted science focuses on calories in and calories out. To lose a pound, you need to eliminate 3,500 calories. By adding a brisk 30 minute walking session to your routine, you will burn somewhere around 150 extra calories a day which falls some way short of the 500 calories a day that you will need to burn. In which case, if you are trying to lose weight, you will need to reduce your calorific intake as well.
The best way to lose weight and to keep it off permanently is to lose it gradually. Losing weight quickly as advertised by a number of faddy diets might work for you in the short term but you are unlikely to keep it off in the long run. Losing weight at around a pound a week is considered sensible and very manageable and walking can help you to do just that.
The amount of fat calories you burn through walking depends on a variety of factors including body weight and the intensity of your walking. These figures are not set in stone but are a fair indicator of how much weight loss you can expect and how quickly it will happen for you.
At an average walking pace of around 4 miles an hour a person weighing 140 pounds will burn around 5.5 calories a minute while a person who weighs 220 pounds will burn somewhere in the region of 8.8 calories a minute. If you are aiming to lose a pound a week then you should try to burn around 250 calories through walking which equates to around 40 minutes a day for a person weighing 160 pounds.
If you want to accurately gauge your walking pace and have access to a gym then walking on a treadmill is a good way to test your speed.
Make sure that you have a good pair of sports shoes that fit you well, dusting off that ten year old pair of sneakers might not be the best idea. Poorly fitted shoes will not only feel uncomfortable but they might cause joint injury and blistering.
If you are new to walking then like any form of fitness or exercise, it is better to start off gradually and build up your intensity and distance over time. There are a number of walking programs available but most of them have the same thing in common; they start you off slowly.
You might well feel that you can go further immediately but for a complete beginner who has not done any exercise for a long time you should start off by walking 3 or 4 days a week for between 10 and 15 minutes. When you are feeling fitter and ready to do a bit more, you can increase the duration and the frequency of the walk. Keep doing this until you are walking between 40 and 60 minutes a day each day of the week.
Getting fitter and thinner might well be motivation enough for you to keep going but if you start getting a bit bored and your daily walk is becoming a bit of a grind, try changing your route, alternating between outdoor and indoor walking on a treadmill or listening to something interesting while you walk. As a runner, I make sure that I have a few chapters of a good audiobook ready on my phone or MP3 player before I set off on a run. I often get so lost in the story that I forget that I am actually running at all.
Power Walking to Lose Weight
If you feel that you are ready to push yourself a bit further, then power walking is a great way to get fitter, more toned and to lose more weight. While your normal walking speed might be around 3 to 4 miles an hour, power walking should see you increase that speed to around 5 miles an hour.
By power walking you will be using more muscles, focusing your posture and burning far more calories than regular walking. A fairly good estimate is that power walking will burn between 300 and 400 calories in thirty minutes which is double or more the calorific burn that you get from regular walking.
Of course this means that you will lose weight faster which is good news if you are trying to get into shape in a hurry. Like regular walking, experts recommend that you ease your way in gradually to power walking.
Start by doing between 15 and 20 minutes every other day and aim to increase the duration and frequency until you are comfortable doing at least 30 minutes nearly each day of the week.
Whether you are a beginner who needs to get into shape or you want to challenge yourself further by power walking, there is little doubt that walking is a great form of exercise. Keep it up, focus on your diet and you will start to see weight loss results on the scales in no time.