Walking for Weight Loss
Walking for Weight Loss
Walking for weight loss is the easiest, cheapest, lowest impact form of exercise to incorporate into everyday life. All the family can join in too, young and old, to either assist with your weight loss or increase overall health and fitness.
Walk the Weight Off by Increasing Everyday Background Activity
Experts suggest that increasing ‘background activity’ such as walking is crucial to losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight or increasing overall health and fitness levels. Walking to places where you would normally take the car is a practical way to increase your activity and the number of calories burned during an average day - without having to make special plans to go to a gym or an exercise class.
If you use a Step Counter (Pedometer) it can measure how much background activity you currently undertake. The step counter can also be used to set goals and measure calories burned, all of which will help support your weight loss goals.
Low Impact Exercise for Weight Loss
Low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking is ideal for people who wish to lose weight. It replaces jogging and jumping with an activity that places less stress on the joints. As long as you exercise at your target heart rate (see below) you will get all the health benefits of aerobic activity, maximising your weight loss whilst decreasing the possibility of injury.
Why Walk for Weight Loss?
Walking is aerobic, which means it improves your cardiovascular fitness and maximises your weight loss. Recent studies undertaken by the US Dept of Health also suggest that Walkers LIVE longer!
Studies on walking for weight loss and general health, from the British Heart Foundation show:
Improvements in your overall fitness and increases in energy levels
Improvements in circulation and in building stamina
That walking can add to the recommended activity target of taking 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week or taking 10,000 steps per day
Walking can also…
Help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
Help lower blood pressure
Reduce high cholesterol
Aid weight loss, reduce body fat and help maintain a healthy weight
Reduce stress and create a feeling of well being
Increase bone density - helping to prevent osteoporosis
Minimise the risk of non insulin dependant diabetes
Using a step counter such as the Omron HJ-109 Pedometer helps by:
Revealing how active you really are
Providing measurable means to reach your weight loss or exercise goals
Measuring your ‘background’ activity which is how active you are in your day to day life
So how much and how fast should you walk to maximise weight loss and improve your fitness?
According to the Ramblers Association a simple way to work out how fast you should walk is to try to ‘walk fast without overexertion’. Basically you should be able to hold a conversation whilst you are walking – the ‘talk test’.
The Ramblers Association say ‘Brisk is best - walk fast without overexertion’
If you want to get really scientific you could train within the correct heart rate ‘zone’ according to your age, giving you the most effective aerobic workout. As an example a 35 year old should aim to keep their heart rate at approximately 83 beats per minute during their walk
Put Your Heart Into It - Measuring Your Heart Rate to Maximise Weight Loss
Using a Heart Rate Monitor can help you maximise your weight loss.
A Heart Rate Monitor uses weight and age to calculate your correct training zone automatically. It will show you exactly how many calories you have burned per session, just what you need to get the calories in versus calories out balance just right.
Walking Can Help Maintain a Healthy Weight
It’s simple maths really, maintaining a healthy weight is a question of getting the right balance of calories in versus calories out, burn more than you eat and, hey presto! you will lose weight.
You can eat more calories if you are more active so if you use walking to lose weight as part of a calorie-controlled diet it will speed up your weight loss. So in order to lose weight through walking - combine this extra activity with healthy eating and you have a close to perfect balance!
Walking For Weight Loss - How Much, How Often?
How many calories you burn through walking is dependant on how much you weigh and how far you walk. As a rule of thumb if you walk briskly for 30 mins you can burn up to 320 calories.
If you are trying to lose weight then doing this just 3 times a week could help reduce your weight by over a pound a month. Combine your exercise regime with a sensible, but reduced calorie intake and you will lose more fat - studies have shown that regular walking alters how we metabolise fat and this is burned instead of sugars.
How to Burn MORE Calories When Walking
Walk briskly and within the ‘talk test’ zone, swinging your arms in a controlled way
Measure the distance walked, steps taken and duration using a pedometer/step counter
Keep your heart rate within its target zone
Use walking poles like the poles used in Nordic Walking
Carry a backpack or extra weight, watch your posture though and remember it will put extra strain on the hips
Learn how to race walk – if you walk at speed which means you can walk a mile in under 13 minutes you are using and building more muscle groups and maximising the number of calories burned
Walk with a friend – it’s easy to persuade yourself not to go out especially when it’s cold and rainy. Making arrangements to walk with a walking partner will help you stay committed to your goals
Advanced Walking Techniques…
Power Walking – this is an excellent aerobic activity which increases your heart rate and is low impact, accessible to all, make sure you have some decent trainers and easy to learn good techniques to get the most out of your exercise. Advice from WalktheWalk.org includes, making sure that you have good, well fitting trainers which support your foot, particularly around the heel and investing in a good step counter/pedometer. Aim to walk 2 or 3 times a week. There is some excellent advice and some beginner’s guides on their web site.