Despite various trending weight loss methods such as diet plans and intense workout programs, walking is still considered as one of the best ways to shed pounds. It is not only extremely healthy for your body but also quite advantageous if you are geared on the way to burn calories (1). Lack of physical activities in daily life, improper lifestyle, poor food choices, and stress are some of the crucial reasons that lead people to put on weight. If you want to reduce fat from your body and are searching for a hassle-free way to achieve the target, walking some miles every day is one of the best options (2). If you are confused about how much walking is required, or Will it actually work? Do you need to accompany it with something else for better results?etc., go through this article. We have accumulated all the information you need to know before including walking to lose weight in your fitness regimen.
Does Walking Really Help Lose Weight?
This would be the very first question that comes to your mind while thinking of weight loss by walking. If one understands the basics that are required to gain success with a walking program and follows it by setting relevant goals; just walking a few miles can do wonders. According to a research, it is suggested that walking for half an hour for about 5 to 6 days a week is as favorable as 60 minutes walk (along with dieting) in providing enormous health benefits if compared to the only diet adhering to a 3 months weight loss program (3).
Usually, a walk for 5 miles every day, considered as an explicit mode, reduces weight efficiently. But, is it possible for you? Lack of time and strength may not allow you to follow this routine regularly. You can replace it with 30 minutes of walking; it is potent and viable, as well. You don’t need to do this for the whole week, instead 5 days are sufficient (4). Some dietary changes will be like the icing on the cake for this routine. It is not wise to waste your time and money at the gym or on any magical remedy for 15 days-1 month diet program.
How to Walk for Weight Loss?
The second thing of vital importance is the method or the way that you opt to walk. It might be unbelievable for you, but yes, it really matters a lot. There are so many factors that decide the number of calories you are going to burn in a 30 minutes walk. It may be possible that one of your friends who walks almost for the same time as you do, loses more weight than you. It happens because of your walking pace and body weight.
If you aim to lose fast, you are required to increase the duration and pace. Ideally, for satisfactory results, you need to walk at a pace of 3-4 miles every hour (5). Brisk walking for half an hour burns about 150 calories a day (6). So, raise your graph from moderate to intense and eliminate calories from your meals to accomplish your target. Also, tracking your progress, walking duration, and calories are critically important if you have chosen to lose weight by walking. You can use a pedometer or tracker for this.
What Health Benefits (Apart from Weight Loss ) Does Walking Offer You?
Sometimes vigorous exercises result into satisfactory weight loss, but if you don’t continue it, the results may not last long. The outcome that made you happy may vanish completely within 2 to 8 months. Experts believe that walking is exceptionally advantageous than the intense workouts. If one walks regularly, s/he acquires a healthy body and is less prone to injuries. In addition to it, walking also puts minimum adverse effects on your joints and bones compared to strenuous activities (7). Here are some reasons why you should choose walking to curtail inches from your body.
1. Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Walking widens the blood vessels that causes a reduction in the pressure on the walls of blood vessels. This lowers the chances of rupturing of arteries and veins and also deducts the stroke risks. Also, it lowers the sympathetic nerve activity in the patients with hypertension or high blood pressure (8).
2. Reduces Bad Cholesterol
3. Increases Bone Density
Walking is a great way to increase your bone density, thus, it is often recommended to the patients suffering from osteoporosis and other related problems (10). Besides this, it also strengthens the muscles.
4. Maintains Body Weight
Brisk walking for 15 minutes is an effective method to reduce weight (11). Its combination with a healthy and proper diet can lead to burn a lot of calories.
5. Relieves Tension and Stress
Walking is an excellent exercise to relieve stress (12). It enhances the production of endorphins that boost not only physical but also mental health. The presence of endorphins in the body releases stress, depression, and anxiety, and also makes you feel relaxed.
6. Makes You Flexible
If your aim is not just weight loss, but you also want to make yourself flexible, regular walking is a great solution. A walk stretches your muscles and increases the flexibility (13). This makes your routine activities smoother and safer.
7. Strengthens Nervous System
Walking barefoot on the grass, moist sand or in water is a good method to regulate the nervous system. The brain sends signals to the muscles, and they work accordingly. Walking increases the speed at which these signals are passed to the muscles, and this way improves your responses (14).
8. Prevents Cardiovascular Issues
Walking is well known to keep your heart healthy and fine. If you walk for 30 minutes every day, it promotes the blood circulation, decreases the blood pressure, and reduces the chances of cardiovascular problems (15). The heart rate increases when you walk, which as a result lowers the rate at the time of rest. Thus, risks of heart attack and other coronary diseases decrease.
9. Regulates Insulin Production
Walking is also quite beneficial for the patients suffering from diabetes. It enhances the production of insulin in the body that fights against the high blood sugar. If you are not a diabetic, walking prevents the risks of this disease (16).
10. Combats the Signs of Aging
If you find some wrinkles and fine lines on your face, these are the signs of aging. They occur as your body stops producing certain hormones that are required to tighten your muscles. Walking allows the production of hormones that are able to combat against the signs of aging. Also, stress is an important reason for the signs of aging and walking is said to deal with stress exceptionally well(17, 18). It is a great natural method to look young even after your youth.
How Much Walking You Need to Lose Weight?
A person on an average has to walk about 2,000 steps per mile that result in burning off 100-150 calories. To know how much you need to walk to lose weight, the first and foremost thing that you require is pedometer (19,20). This helps you keep track of the number of miles you achieve every day, no. of calories burnt, and the pacing rate. In order to find the correct heart rate as per your age, you can use a special calculator for it, known as Target Heart Rate Calculator. You can follow these simple steps for a head start towards weight loss.
- Initialize your routine with a walk of 10 minutes at an effortless pace.
- Halt it and perform stretching and some flexibility workouts.
- Set your target heart rate and walk at a moderate pace for about half to 1 hour.
- After that, relax and walk at a slower pace for 5 minutes.
- Finish the complete session with some soothing stretches.
- Later, you can increase the duration of your walks. Set the target heart rate and walk for 30 to 60 minutes at it. Then, reduce the speed and finish your walk after 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Ways to Burn More Calories While Walking
If you feel that your normal walking routine is not sufficient, you can accompany your walk with certain steps that burn more calories and enhance the possibility of a favorable outcome.
Posture is the most crucial thing that one should be aware of while walking. Incorrect posture may lead to nullify the positive effects of the exercise. Try your best to be straight throughout your walk as it will make you move more and more faster (21). Keep your spine and neck straight, line up the shoulders over the hips and look forward. This will make your muscles work more vigorously.
2. Use your Arms
Have you ever noticed a professional runner? They run with bent arms. It is because this position of arms makes you move faster if compared to straight hands. Also, it doesn’t reduce your pace and burns more calories. Elbows should be bent, and palms should face inwards (22).
3. Use of feet
Your foot strike plays a key role in deciding how efficiently you are walking. This makes your ankle move accurately and allows you to go faster. Concentrate on landing the middle part of your foot, and roll-off the toes while striking the foot (23). In this way, you can burn more fat every day.
4. Smaller Steps
Another way to reduce more weight just by walking is to take smaller and quicker steps (24). It is recommended to walk about 2,000 steps every mile (25). This upgrades your speed and as a result, reduces more pounds. Start with 80-100 steps per minute, try to cut some seconds from your previous time and again count for 100 steps. Repeat the same procedure for 10 to 12 times.
Nordic walking is a great option if you want to make your walk more efficient and comfortable (26). It is very advantageous for your blood pressure and oxygen consumption, improvises the quality of life of the patients with certain diseases and enhances the stamina (27). Nordic poles activate the upper part of the body and push you forward (28). Also, they enhance your power and increase the speed. In addition to this, it is an extremely helpful method for those who are suffering from some kind of leg injury.
6. Set the target
Setting a goal is another crucial thing that one should do if s/he wants to achieve the goal faster and more efficiently, just by walking (29,30). For this, you can select a stop sign such as a bench or tree. Keep encouraging yourself to reach the place you have opted. You can slow down in between if you feel it is not possible.
7. Skip Inclines
If you think inclined surfaces are highly competent for burning calories, you are somewhat wrong. Flat platforms are supposed to be more beneficial than inclines. Also, inclines are said to exert more pressure on knees and can lead to premature osteoarthritis in young people (31). So, instead of wasting your time on such surfaces, prefer leveled lands.
8. Raise the Rate
Walk with a normal rate, but it is effective only if you are a starter. Also, one should walk at the same rate for not more than 3 to 4 days. After that, start increasing the rate as this procedure will help you shed more pounds. A fast-paced walking for 30 minutes helps lose around 158 calories while jogging at a moderate pace burns 215 calories (32).
You can wear a heart-rate monitor to track your progress and success. This device will play the role of your coach and keep you inspired to lose more weight by walking.
9. Add some Strength
You can accompany your walk with some exercises that demand strength (33). This will cut your inches very fast. Walk for 5 minutes and then stop for a minute to perform some of the activities such as lunges, jumping jacks, squats, planks, high knees running in place, and push-ups. This combination is to say goodbye to your extra pounds in short-term.
Things You Should Keep in Mind While Walking for Weight Loss?
- Instead of escalating your stride, keep your leading foot close to your body and push it forward with great force.
- If your aim is to walk at a faster pace, avoid exceeding a stride.
- While walking, concentrate that your heel must touch the ground at first and then the foot rolls to the toes (34).
- To avoid sprains from stumbling and falling, make sure that your feet roll forward from the center.
- For each next step, push the whole toe backward. This will prevent your muscles from fatigue.
- In order to maximize the efficiency of your walk, twist by your waist.
- Keep your shoulders, hands, and neck relaxed (35).
- Your arms should be very close to your body, and attempt to enhance their swinging speed.
- Don’t forget to analyze your progress and results, as it is very important (36).
Ways to Make your Walk More Effective and Enjoyable
1. Consume Green Tea
Green tea has tremendous health and beauty benefits. It not only regulates your metabolism but also reduces fat at a much faster rate. It is quite beneficial to have it before or after the workout. Green tea has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties that are useful for athletes who perform vigorous exercises (37). Enjoy a cup of it after the walk to lose weight fast.
2. Prepare a Walking Playlist
Music will encourage you to walk extra miles. Fast music enables you to increase the duration of your workout (38). Also, a research indicates that listening to music puts positive effects on the autonomic nervous system and reduces the psychological stress response and the levels of endocrine (39). Thus, it relieves the stress that occurs during a walk or workout.
You can prepare a list of mood-boosting tracks that motivate you to put extra efforts and to achieve your goal as soon as possible.
3. Get a Walking Buddy
Moral support is very important when you are on the way to accomplish something like weight loss. Ask one of your close buddies to accompany you for the walk. Your buddy will not only encourage you to put more efforts, but you can also compete or laugh with him/her. According to some studies, laughter is considered very healthy and maintains the heart rate. Also, it is said that 10 to 15 minutes of laughing could burn about 45 calories (40).
4. Select the Right Shoes
The most important thing for walking is the shoes your wear (41). Make sure that your pair is suitable enough for a comfortable walk. If you are walking on a leveled surface, you should wear flexible, lightweight, low-heeled and stiff shoes that avoid tripping and side-to-side motion.
5. Walk Early in the Morning
Any exercise is more beneficial if done during the early morning hours, as it reduces blood pressure and enhances your quality of sleep (42). At this time, the body lacks in calories, and walking promotes the body’s ability to burn more fat.
The levels of glycogen get decreased in the body while sleeping, and fat becomes the only source that can be utilized by the body during a walk. Also, a study shows that people who have regular exposure to earlier sunlight are leaner as compared to those who get up later in the afternoon (43).
6. Drink Water
If you want to reduce your weight at a faster rate, increase the amount of water you drink (44). A research shows that water helps you burn more calories. A person who consumed more water than usual is able to burn many extra calories during his workout. Thus, drink as much water as you can for better results.
Note: If you want to lose weight, you should avoid certain drinks that contain a lot of calories and sugars.
7. Choose an Appropriate Terrain
A walk on the grass is said to burn more calories as compared to a walk on track (45) and a walk on soft sand can enhance the caloric expenditure even more than the grass. You can choose the terrain according to your choice and suitability.
8. Add Resistance
If you think you are quite fit now and walking is not sufficient, start adding resistance to your walk by adding some weights to the body while walking. You can fill a bag with water or sand and can use it as a backpack. Don’t use hand or ankle weights as they may either change the way you move or can injure you (46).
Note: Elderly people should not use this method as it may lead to high blood pressure or cardiovascular diseases.
9. Avoid Sport Drinks
Keep yourself away from caffeinated drinks or beverages as they can increase the loss of fluid from the body. This can result in making you dehydrated (47). Many of you may feel to drink something to prevent dehydration or wet your dry throat. For this, you can opt some healthy beverages such as coconut water, lemon iced tea, etc.
10. Eat Almonds
A low-calorie diet enriched with almonds has the potential to decrease your weight a lot (48). If you are walking to burn calories, almonds are a great companion of your exercise. They contain mono-unsaturated fats that regulate the levels of insulin in your body. Also, it keeps you full, and you will not experience frequent cravings.
11. Practice Arm Swinging
If you want to get the best results out of your walk, you should keep your arms swinging (49). This will not only speed up your pace but is also extremely helpful to keep your upper portion fit. Above all this, arms swinging results into burning more calories as compared to walking normally. Move the hands in a way that while reaching backward, they should touch your back pocket, and should be close to the middle of your chest when coming forward.
12. Keep an Account of Your Walk
Keeping an account of everything about your walk is really an excellent idea. This will spur you to increase your efficacy with each day. Keep a record of the number of the days, distance, and duration (50). Along with this, do not forget to measure your weight every week.
13. Avoid Starvation
If you are working hard to shed pounds, then you should wisely choose what to have for your post and pre workout meals, as they should be full of nutrition (51, 52). These meals refuel the body, lowers the protein breakdown, enhance protein synthesis, and increase the strength of your muscles. Proper food really adds on the positive effects of walking.
14. Avoid Overeating
If you think that after a brisk walk for about 1 hour in the morning, you are free to eat whatever you wish to, at any time of the day, then you are completely wrong. You should avoid doing this. It is quite probable that if you are new to this workout, you may feel the need to refuel yourself more frequently. Involve yourself in more physical activities and avoid high-calorie food (53).
Ways to Include Walking in Your Routine Life
Besides the intentional morning walk, you can incorporate some incidental walks in your routine to escalate your progress by burning more calories. Here are some of the ideas that you can use to reach one step ahead.
1. Nearby Destination
If you have to visit a nearby shop or garden, avoid using a vehicle for that. Instead, prefer walking for such a short distance (54). For convenience, you can mark all such places nearby your home, on a map.
2. Supermarket Walk
If you are working so hard to get back in shape, you will definitely like the idea of shopping in a supermarket. It is not only healthy but also an enjoyable task (55). You can also accompany your friends if they need to buy something.
3. Reverse Walk
You can try something new and can change your regular route from home to nearby destinations (56). Though these routes may be longer than the usual ones, but anyhow, it will be beneficial for you. You will see some new things in these ways that will refresh your mood.
4. Office Walk
If you want to discuss something with your team, instead of that boring idea to meet in the conference room, you can go out with your colleagues on a walk and can have a conversation while strolling. In case, you have to talk to any of your colleague, instead of calling or mailing him, prefer walking to his place (57). This will boost your mood and help you shed a few more inches of fat as well.
5. Drizzle Walk
If it is raining, how can you miss the chance to walk in the rain? Yes! It is a mood-uplifting idea that can add some more calories to the account of the burnt ones. Rather than using an umbrella, wear a rain suit and enjoy the drizzle walk. This short stroll can also aid you to lose weight (58).
If you have a busy schedule, be active and try to spare some time for short strolls such as walking with friends or family after dinner (59). It will boost your metabolism and is quite healthy for you. Other than this, it also helps you keep burning lots of calories.
7. Park and Walk
If you have pulled up your socks to eliminate that extra fat from your body fast, it is time to cheat yourself. Park your car as far as possible from your destination, so that you can get some extra steps to reduce your body fat (60).
Now, you know how walking is capable of removing fat from your body. So, make it a habit and think of as many ways as you can, to include it in your routine life. You will definitely get positive and satisfactory results.