How can you use walking to lose weight you may ask? After all, it may not seem to burn very many calories. Many of those – “if you aren’t sweating and vomiting, you aren’t really exercising” people dismiss walking as pointless.
Running, jogging, weight lifting, calisthenics may all burn more calories per hour, but you have to fit them into your life AND persevere AND be relatively fit to start with to get the effects. They may be great calorie burners, but walking is still the most simple, and effective, of all exercises to lose weight and stay in shape.
The Upward Spiral
Once you have become a little fitter, the extra energy may be increasingly enthusiastic about exercise that is more vigorous. Once you have built muscles and stamina, it is easy to move into other enjoyable activities like cycling, running or rowing which are even more effective than walking to lose weight. If you prefer not to, then it still a viable way to get rid of those extra pounds.
When I look at the calorie burn calculator, it tells me an hours slow walking burns about 200 calories in an hour. 200 calories a day doesn’t sound like much (less than 40 grams of milk chocolate) and some people conclude it’s just not worth the effort. However, using the rule of thumb of 3500 calories to a pound,
- After 17 days, you lose a pound – with very little effort.
- In a year, that’s 21 pounds or 9.5 kilos.
Not bad, easy to do, and you don’t have to be super motivated or super fit. It is a great way to start an exercise routine if you are unfit or recovering from injuries or illness, or just can’t find blocks of time to “officially” exercise.
There are three ways to lose weight
- take in less calories
- use up more calories through activity
- increase your metabolism
A brisk walk increases oxygen intake and therefore calorie burning. It also increases muscle mass. Our skeletal muscles are 40% of our muscle mass. Being fitter and increasing muscle mass increases your metabolic rate (the rate you burn calories even when sitting around) as well as heart function and circulation.
Adding more steps
If you can include extra steps in your day with things like walking to the local shop instead of driving, or going for a walk after dinner instead of watching TV, you can easily increase the time and calories burnt. Alternatively, put that treadmill gathering dust in the basement in front of the TV and walk while you watch your favorite program.
My favorite walking to lose weight tip – wearing a pedometer to record your average number of steps in a day, and then beating that number by just 10%. Increasing the amount of walking to 66 minutes for instance could burn
- 220 calories or 1 pound in 16 days
- A respectable 23 pounds/ 10.5 kilos in a year
Increasing the Pace
Walking more briskly increases calories burnt to more than 300 calories per hour. Increasing your speed – putting pep in your step boosts that calorie burning.
- That’s a pound in 12 days
- 31 pounds/14 kilos in a year if you keep it up. Without changing your diet or lifestyle.
Another way to increase pace is to cover your regular in less time. If your normal morning walk is 30 minutes, aim to do it in 25. Increasing your heart rate and oxygen use burns more calories. When that becomes easy, aim to cover the distance in 20 minutes.
It gets even better. You can increase calorie burning capacity even more by:
- Adding a small amount of weight – groceries or a backpack
- Going up slopes, inclines or hills
Walking helps regulate blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Increasing your insulin sensitivity is one of the most important things you can do to lose belly fat. Insulin is our fat storing hormone – high blood sugar can make it almost impossible to lose weight.