We’re always hearing about high intensity exercise, lifting weights, and doing other forms of training that push your body to its limit, but there are other ways to stay fit and healthy and lose weight.
And one of those ways is by walking daily.
Why is walking important?
Walking is fun and effective for a number of reasons: it prevents you from putting on too much weight, releases endorphins, keeps your blood sugar at an ideal level, allows blood to circulate throughout your body and is an easy, regular source of activity that you can do pretty much anywhere.
What determines how you burn calories?
Walking can help you to burn calories as your only form of exercise, or a supplementary form of exercise that you can do to complement your training regime.
Your weight and the distance you walk are the biggest factors in how many calories you burn while walking. A rule of thumb is that about 100 calories per kilometre are burned for someone who weighs 80kg and 65 calories per kilometre are burned for someone who weighs 55 to 60 kg.
But a host of other factors also have a role to play, namely:
• Muscle mass
• Physical fitness level
• The presence or absence of inclines and intervals
• Duration of time spent walking
Can you lose weight with walking?
Yes, even though walking is a lower intensity exercise, it is still effective for people who either want to maintain their physique or lose weight. Walking is a versatile exercise that can be done at varying intensities and in almost any setting. Apart from the obvious benefits, it also changes up your routine and allows you to get outside and see the world around you, which further enhances the experience.
If you’re keen to get a “harder” training session out of walking then it’s simple: walk faster. Walking faster ups your tempo and if you are sticking to a set amount of time to complete your walk then you’ll be increasing the overall distance by walking faster.
Walking is important for people who are coming back from injury, who don’t train regularly, and older people who don’t want to risk doing intense bouts of exercise. As a form of active recovery, you will find that you’ll still lose weight and keep any excess weight off, while you are spending time away from your regular training schedule.
It will take more time to lose weight, due to the lowered intensity, but by including intervals such as walking at a faster pace for a minute and then slowing down for 30 seconds, and taking to the hills for the incline and decline, you’ll find that you will burn more calories.
Using walking poles might look strange, but the dynamic motion of moving forwards and backwards actually adds to the overall intensity of your workout and, as a result, your weight loss.
This goes for all forms of training, but with walking it is probably even more important because you are training at a lower intensity and less fat is being burned – always be mindful of the amount and type of calories you are consuming throughout the day. You will not lose weight if you are eating more calories than you are burning. Just as important is the type of foods. If you are looking to lose weight then a diet that is low in refined carbohydrates and sugar and high in nutritious foods such as lean meat, vegetables and nuts and legumes should be given priority.
More ways to make walking fun
Walking is for everyone, and for this reason there’s more than one way to add to your daily routine:
- Include the whole family and your pets
- Go hiking out in nature
- Make it a daily challenge to beat your steps
- Walk as a way to take a break from the desk at work
However you choose to walk, you will optimising your health and wellness with a beneficial form of exercise that everyone can do. Add it to your current routine or, if you’re looking to get a bit fitter, start doing a little more every single day until you’re ready to go on to bigger and better things.
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