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Walking for Weight Loss: Is it Enough?

If you want to stay fit and healthy, it’s essential to exercise regularly.

That’s because being physically active lowers your risk of developing health conditions. This includes heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Besides helping you live a longer and healthier life, exercise can also aid weight loss and maintenance. Fortunately, walking is also a great form of free, low-risk physical activity and accessible to most people.

It’s good for you and one of the most accessible forms of exercise to include in your day-to-day life.

The Benefits of Walking

Walking Burns Calories

Your body demands energy (in the form of calories) for all the complex chemical reactions that allow you to move, breathe, and think.

However, regular calorie needs vary from person to person and are affected by things like your weight, sex, genes, and activity level.

It’s well known that you need to burn more calories than you absorb to lose weight.

Furthermore, people who are more physically active can burn more calories.

However, modern living and work environments show that you spend large parts of your day sitting, especially if you have an office job.

Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle makes you susceptible to weight gain and health risks.

Trying to get more exercise by walking more often can help you burn more calories and subdue these risks.

Walking a mile (1.6 km) burns roughly 100 calories, depending on your gender and weight.

One research measured the number of calories burned by non-athletes who walked at a brisk pace of 3.2 miles (5 km) per hour or ran at a speed of 6 mph for about a mile. It discovered those who walked at a brisk pace burned an average of 90 calories per mile.

And although running burned significantly more calories, it only burned around 23 more calories per mile, on average. This indicates that both forms of exercise contributed substantially to the number of calories burned.

To enhance your walk’s intensity and burn even more calories, try walking on routes with hills or slight inclines.

It Helps Preserve Lean Muscle

When people burn calories and lose weight, they often lose some muscle in addition to body fat.

This can be counterproductive, as muscle is more metabolically dynamic than fat. This implies it helps you burn more calories each day.

Exercise, including walking, can help counter this outcome by preserving lean muscle when you lose weight.

This can help lessen the drop in metabolic rate that often occurs with weight loss, making your results easier to maintain.

What’s more, it can also decrease age-related muscle loss, helping you retain more of your muscle strength and function.

Walking Burns Belly Fat

Storing many fats around your midsection has been connected to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Men with a waist circumference larger than 40 inches (102 cm) and women with a waist circumference larger than 35 inches (88 cm) have abdominal obesity.

One of the most efficient ways to reduce belly fat is to participate in aerobic exercises, such as walking regularly.

In one small research, obese women who walked for 50–70 minutes three times per week for 12 weeks decreased their waist circumference by 1.1 inches (2.8 cm) and lost 1.5% of their body fat.

Another research found that people on a calorie-controlled diet who walked for one hour, five times per week for 12 weeks, lost an extra 1.5 inches (3.7 cm) off their waistlines and 1.3% more body fat.

Other studies have observed similar results.

It Improves Your Mood

Exercise is known to develop your mood.

Physical activity has been shown to develop your mood and decrease stress, depression, and anxiety.

It does this by creating your brain more sensitive to the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine. These hormones reduce feelings of depression and stimulate the release of endorphins, which make you feel happy.

This is a great advantage in itself. However, experiencing enhancement in the mood when you walk regularly might also make the habit easier to keep up with.

What’s more, some researchers have found that if you enjoy physical activity, it can increase the likelihood that you will continue to do it.

People tend to exercise less if they don’t enjoy it, which can be the effect of the exercise being too physically demanding.

This makes walking a great choice, as it’s a moderate-intensity exercise. That’s likely to drive you to walk more rather than give up.

Walking Can Help You Keep Weight Off

Several people who lose weight end up gaining it all back.

However, regular exercise plays an essential role in helping you.

Daily exercise, like walking, does not only help boost the amount of energy you burn day-to-day. It also enables you to develop more lean muscle to burn more calories, even at rest.

Furthermore, engaging in a regular, moderate-intensity exercise can enhance your mood. It makes you more likely to stay active in the long term.

A recent study estimated that you should walk at least 150 minutes per week to maintain a stable weight.

However, if you’ve lost a lot of weight, you may still need to exercise more than 200 minutes per week to restrict yourself from regaining it.

Researchers have found that people who exercise are usually the most successful at keeping their weight loss. Meanwhile, people who exercise the least are likely to regain the weight.

Incorporating more walking into your day can help you build the amount of exercise you do and add towards your daily activity goals.

How Long Should My Daily Walk be for Weight Loss

Aim for a brisk walk of 30 to 90 minutes for most of the days of your week for weight loss. You can do walking exercises for more on some days and less on others, but the total time for the week should be at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours).

You should walk fast enough to be in the moderate-intensity activity zone at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. You should be breathing harder than usual and speak in full sentences, but not sing. You can use your heart rate and practice zone reading from a fitness band, app, or heart rate monitor. This is to ensure you are exercising at moderate intensity.

While you can split up your walking time into periods of 10 minutes or longer, you get an added advantage of burning fat when you walk at a brisk pace for at least 30 minutes.

If you’re new to walking, get started with a shorter walking duration, and steadily build up your walking time. You might want to take long walks every other day in the beginning.

Try not to skip two consecutive days. Consistency is good for burning calories and enhancing your metabolism, as well as for creating new habits. On your non-walking days, try to do some strength training exercises. If you’re exhausted, take a rest for today and get back to walking tomorrow.

If you’re working on keeping your weight, the CDC suggests that you spend 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity while limiting your calorie intake.

What If You Can’t Walk for 30 Minutes at a Time?

Life can be busy. If your schedule doesn’t allow walking continuously for 30 minutes, split it into brisk walking two or three times a day for at least 10 minutes.

Always warm-up for five minutes at a slow pace no matter what duration you will be walking. You can use higher-intensity periods, stairs, and brisk walking to get the most out of shorter walking workouts.

According to 2017 research, high-intensity intervals are as good as constant moderate-intensity workouts. And it can be an excellent way to fit exercise into your day.

Calories and Fat Burned in 30 Minutes

At a brisk walking speed, you would burn 100 to 300 calories in 30 minutes (depending on the person’s weight) or 200 to 600 calories in an hour. By walking for 30 minutes or more at a time, some of those calories will come from stored fat.

During the first 30 minutes of your exercise, your body is burning sugars stored as fuel. These are used up after about 30 minutes. To get your body going, your body delivers fat from your fat cells and burns it for energy.

This stored fat is exactly what you want to lose, and it’s an excellent basis to build up your walking stamina so you can walk for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Weight Loss Workout Plan

You can use this sample schedule and adjust the days as needed. This workout plan is best for those who don’t want to accelerate their speed and enjoy long walks. The time listed is at your objective heart rate and pace after warming up.

You can break up the long walks into multiple shorter walks if your schedule won’t permit you.

  • Sunday: Long walking exercise with 60 minutes at a brisk pace
  • Monday: Day off with no walking workout, but you can still enjoy strolls.
  • Tuesday: Short walking exercise with 30 minutes at a fast pace, plus a strength training workout
  • Wednesday: Short walking exercise with 30 minutes at a rapid pace
  • Thursday: A prolonged walking exercise of 60 minutes at a brisk pace
  • Friday: Short walking exercise with 30 minutes at a brisk pace, plus a strength training workout.
  • Saturday: A long easy walking day with 30 minutes at a fast pace, then 30 to 90 more minutes at a leisurely pace.

While the number of calories you burn relies on your weight and the distance you walk, this plan can burn 2000 calories per week for an average walker.

Walking Workouts for Weight Loss

A brisk pace is a state where you breathe harder than usual, and your heart rate is at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can monitor your heart rate by taking your pulse.

Short Walking Workout

  • Warm-up at a leisurely pace for three to five minutes.
  • Speed up to a brisk walk at the objective pace for 30 minutes.
  • Walk at a slow to a comfortable pace for three to five minutes.
  • You may want to do a mild stretching routine after your warm-up or after you finish your walk.

Very​ Short Walking Workout

If you don’t have enough time for a sustained walk, find the time to take two to four 15-minute walks. Your time at a brisk pace for the day should continue to at least 30 minutes.

  • Warm-up at a leisurely pace within one to three minutes.
  • Accelerate to a brisk pace for at least 10 minutes.
  • Walk at a slow to a comfortable pace for one to three minutes.

Long Walking Workout

  • Warm-up within five minutes at a leisurely pace.
  • Do a brisk walking pace for 60 minutes.
  • Walk at a slow to a comfortable pace for five minutes.

Long Easy Walking Workout

You can spice up this workout by engaging in a local charity walk or joining a walking group or club for their workouts.

  • Do a warm-up for five minutes at a leisurely pace.
  • Start walking at the target brisk walking pace for 30 minutes.
  • Walk at a slow to a comfortable pace for an additional 30 to 90 minutes.

Days Off

When you are walking for weight loss, you should take no more than two days off weekly. You can still enjoy strolls on your day off, and you would want to ensure you aren’t sitting for long periods.

Tips before you start your walking exercise

Choose the right shoes

The only “equipment” necessary for walking are decent pairs of shoes. Unless you’re walking on the beach, chances are you have a pair suitable for the job already.

“Walking shoes” have flexible soles and stiff heel counters to limit side-to-side motion. Normal flat surfaces only need low-heeled shoes that are comfortable, cushioned, and lightweight.

Devise a great walking playlist

Before you even think about tying up your sneakers, think of the songs you want to hear as you make strides towards a fitter you.

Having a great soundtrack to your walk will drive you to push harder and go farther. And the best part is that you probably won’t even notice the extra effort that you end up putting in.

Look for songs that are between 75 to 130 BPM. These tempos will help you synchronize your strut to the beat.

Know your route

It’s good to have a clear knowledge of where you’ll be walking on any given day.

You’ll feel comfortable and confident knowing what to expect. It also prevents you from wasting any walking time, figuring out a route on the fly.

Try and devise a handful of routes that range in length, grade, and terrain. Just a couple of route choices can prevent your new belly blasting habit from getting repetitive.

Find a walking buddy

Numerous studies prove that having a strong support group is vital to achieving and maintaining weight loss success.

Be prepared for weather conditions

We don’t all live in San Diego, which means that we have to deal with a changing climate.

Don’t let a run of hot, cold, wet, windy, or icy weather stop you from walking off your belly. Get yourself kitted out with the proper clothing for the sorts of weather your area can get in a given year.

During a heatwave, walk before the sun gets too high in the sky. During a cold snap, do the opposite. A fair-weather walker in Seattle or Fargo will miss out on a lot of belly blasting moments.

Keep a walking journal

Keeping a journal has been shown to increase the effectiveness of a walking program by 47 percent.

Here are some of the things you should track:

  • Days that you did your walking routine
  • Time of day or night that you performed your walking routine
  • Distance and time you finished each walking routine
  • Your walking course
  • Your weekly weight

Walk in daylight to eat less

Get some of that sunshine or even daylight on your walk. Why?

A study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology explained that sleep-deprived adults who were exposed to dim light after waking had lower concentrations of leptin. It is a hormone that tells you are full.

By letting some light in, you’ll get your desired weight loss results.

Walk briskly

Walk like you’re at the airport, and you’ve cut it close for your flight.

If you’re 150 pounds walking briskly (around 3.5 miles per hour) will burn about 300 calories every 60 minutes. If you can fit in 30 minutes of brisk walking on a flat surface each day, you’ll have burned off 1,050 calories by the end of the week.

Studies reveal that this sort of weekly calorie expenditure helps protect against heart disease. And you’ll probably notice that you look and feel different soon.

But also vary your walking pace

Engineering researchers have found that walking at alternating speeds can burn up to 20 percent more calories than keeping a steady pace.

The 2015 study from Ohio State University is one of the first to measure the metabolic cost, calories burned, and varying walking speeds. While walking briskly for 30 minutes is a great idea to try and work in a few minutes to accelerate and decelerate your brisk walk.

Vary the terrain

As well as changing your speed, a great way to burn more belly fat is to switch up the surface you’re walking on.

Walking on grass or gravel burns more calories than walking on a track. Meanwhile, walking on soft sand raises caloric expenditure by almost 50 percent, given that you can keep your pace the same.

Final Thoughts

You might be able to lose weight through walking, depending on its range and intensity and your diet.

A blend of physical activity and dietary changes seems to improve weight loss more effectively than exercise alone. Physical activity, such as walking, is also essential for weight control because it helps you burn calories.

If you add 30 minutes of brisk walking to your routine, you could burn about 150 more calories a day. Of course, the more you walk and the quicker your pace, the more calories you’ll burn.

However, balance is still important. Overdoing it can raise your risk of soreness, injury, and burnout. If you’re new to daily exercise and physical activity, you may need to start with short walks or walking at a light intensity. And then build your pace to longer walks with moderate or vigorous intensity.

Once you’ve lost weight, exercise is even more critical for maintenance. So keep walking, but make sure you also eat a healthy diet.