Many people consider walking for weight loss as an ineffective form of low-impact exercise for out of shape folks. I was one of those people. I was wrong. In this article I will share my experience using walking to get in shape in the spring of 2011 during a high stress period in my life when all other forms of higher intensity exercise were out of the question.
The reason most think that walking for weight loss isn’t really a good way to get in shpe is that it seems too easy to give results. The activity in itself doesn’t burn a lot of calories if you do it for 10 or 15 minutes 3 times per week.
Why Walking for Weight Loss Works
The reason this activity does work for getting in shape is that it is very easy to stick to. For me, the daily walks are a form of relaxation, a sort of meditating cool down. I would just tie my shoes, take my mp3 player, leash my dog and head out for an hour of listening to music, audio books or just quietly enjoying the nice weather and the occasional bird song.
Spring and early summer are perfect for this. So is autumn when the weather is nice walking in Winter in my experience has to be done before sun down, otherwise it’s not really enjoyable. In contrast, Spring and Summer nights are perfect for this.
Finally, walking for weight loss is low stress. As a form of exercise it’s easy on the joints and muscles. As a mental challenge it’s easy, because you don’t have to flinch at the thought of the tough workout planned for the day. As a bonus, walking acts anti-inflammatory on the whole body.
Walking for Weight Loss: An in-depth Look
Ina a couple of months I was able to lose 10-12 Holiday pounds I had gained after Christmas, New Years and a series of family holidays There are many online calculators claiming walking for an hour burns between 100 and 300 calories depending on the terrain, your speed and your weight.
I think that trying to calculate the exact calorie burn is a fools errand. The focus instead should be on watching what you eat and also getting in as many walking sessions as possible. Some days I managed to walk twice, but most often I’d walk once per day, 6-7 times per week.
The cool thing about walking as a tool to lose weight is that the more weight you need to lose, the more effective walking is. The reason for this is that all your extra pounds act as resistance and make the exercise harder. It’s like using a weighted vest.
How to Walk for Weight Loss
- Walk 6-7 days per week. A single session burns a small amount of calories, but is very easy to do. When you do it every day, the calories burnt start to compound after just 3 or 4 weeks and you start seeing rapid results.
- Once or twice a day. If possible, try to walk twice on the weekends.
- Walk for 30 to 60 minutes. Start small and gradually increase time.
- Walk on flat or incline surfaces. Incline walking increases calorie burn significantly but at the same time keeps the joint stress super low.
- Listen to music or audio books. Provided it is safe, walking and listening to an audio book (I went through a bunch of books while walking in the park. I also listened to some language tapes which was also lots of fun.
- Take your dog. I love my lab Lucky and he enjoys those walks with me too.
- Safety first. Be careful– don’t listen to loud music if walking in the evenings or in a questionable area.
- Walking in the rain. It’s actually fine to walk in the rain. Just get a nice waterproof hooded jacket and you are set.
Walking for Weight Loss Resources
- Diet is king. Walking for weight loss only works if your calories are in check. Personally I had great success in the past by skipping meals as described here ==> Easy Diet Plan
- Intense exercise before walking. Do a 15-25 minute intense workout, such as these body weight circuits. In this way walking serves to both cool you down from the workout and actually burn off the fat that has been released from the fat storage during the high intensity exercise.
- Walking for weight loss and your health. Here’s a great article on the anti inflammatory effect of walking ==> Why Walking is Necessary for Good Health – Even If You Are Extremely Fit and Lean
- The lovely photo courtesy of jenny downing