Q: Does walking help lose weight?
A: This is a question I hear a lot and the answer is a resounding YES! Fitness walking will not only help you lose body fat, it will also help you build lean muscle and strengthen your cardiovascular system.
Here’s a really simple plan to lose weight walking:
1. Walk at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week
2. Walk briskly
3. Eat a reasonable diet
Let’s talk about each step in greater detail…
Step 1: Walk at least 150 minutes per week. That’s the minimum recommendation by the American Council of Exercise. That breaks down to 30 minutes for five days a week.
If you’re wondering how you can possibly fit that much exercise into your jam-packed day, start by just adding 10 minutes a day and work up to 30 minutes a day by adding 10% more walking time each week.
Even if you just walk briskly for 10 minutes a day, you are improving your long term health. Heck, research even shows that you’ll live longer than those who don’t exercise at all.
Walking for 30 straight minutes will give you a great workout and improve your endurance, but if you can’t find that much time in your day, you can break your walking time into three, ten-minute periods.
If you are thinking to yourself that you’ll try and find 30 minutes to exercise tomorrow, there’s a good chance it isn’t going to happen. Things will come up and exercise will get pushed down on your to-do list.
So, take a few minutes now to really plan out how you can add 30 minutes of exercise to your day tomorrow. Can you wake up 10 or 20 minutes early and walk then? How about a walk during lunch time or after dinner? I like to walk my son to school every morning, which amounts to 20 minutes of exercise.
Prioritize your exercise time into your day, just like any other important activity. In fact, it may be the most important thing you do every day. It will make you healthier, feel better and give you more energy. You deserve it!
Step 2: Does walking help lose weight if I take a nice, easy stroll after dinner? The short answer is, well, no. To really burn calories, you’ve got to walk briskly. The faster you go, the more oxygen your body will require, which will burn more calories.
How fast should you walk? You don’t have to be dripping sweat and crying in pain. But the answer really depends on your current fitness level. Use the “talk test” to determine how fast to go.
If you can carry on a conversation while walking, you need to go faster. You should be walking fast enough that you can get out a few words in between your deep breathing. Here is an article I wrote on how to walk faster that will teach you how to walk faster the proper way, without hurting your back or legs.
If a brisk pace is too difficult to maintain, just try to maintain it for one minute or five minutes – whatever you can do. And next time try to maintain it for just 30 seconds or one minute longer until you can walk briskly for the majority of your 30 minute period.
Step 3: Does walking
help lose weight without needing to go on a diet? It’s possible, especially if
you haven’t been exercising much. But if you want to lose weight quicker, you’ll
probably need to modify your diet. Here's a great resource on what types of food to eat in order to eat a reasonable diet.
Losing weight is about burning more calories than you consume. One pound equals 3,500 calories. To lose a pound, you’ll need to eat 3,500 fewer calories than you are currently eating. That boils down to 500 fewer calories a day if you want to lose one pound per week.
A 30-minute brisk walk can burn about 100 to 150 calories (depending on how fast you walk and how much you weigh). The calories that you burn off by walking can offset how many calories you need to cut from your daily food intake.
For example, if you burn 100 calories per day with walking, then you only need to reduce your calories from food by 400 instead of 500 in order to stay on track for losing one pound per week.
I recommend tracking your daily calorie intake. My favorite tool to do so is called My Fitness Pal. It is free and can be used on your smart phone or computer.
It will help you determine how many calories you should eat per day in order to achieve your weight loss goal. It will also keep track of how many calories you consume (it has a great library of how many calories are in the foods we eat) and how many calories you burn off with exercise.
By now, I hope you know the answer to, “Does walking help lose weight?” With this simple, three-step plan, you can definitely reach your weight loss goals and get fit while doing so.
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