walking for weight loss

Your weight is mostly a function of the balance between what you take in as food and the calories you burn up as energy. Logically, weight loss is bound to occur if a calorie deficit is created by increasing activities that will burn up more calories while at the same reducing your calorie intake through eating fewer calories daily. For instance, to lose 1 pound a week, you would need to expend 3500 more calories than you eat that week either through increased activity or reduced eating or combining both.

Of all the activities you could engage in to increase your activity level, walking is by far the most popular and one of the easiest as well as a very effective form of exercise that you can incorporate into your daily lifestyle. So, take the initiative today and make walking a regular activity by focusing on the pace and distance you can cover.

Walking does not require having any kind of athletic skill, special training equipment, or membership at any gym and it also has a very low risk of injury. Walking will significantly help to improve your overall health and fitness levels as it helps you to strengthen your bones by increasing density, tone the leg and other muscles, maintain good posture, improve your heart health, burn off some extra pounds and instill a general sense of well-being while also increasing your positive self-esteem.

There are basically three types of walking – two formal type and one traditional type. Formally, you have power-walking (also known as speed-walking) and race-walking and both require some technique to carry them out. While race-walking is an Olympic sport with specific rules, power-walking is a more recreational form of walking. On the other hand, you have your plain old walking technique where you just go out and do your thing.

How many calories can you lose by walking?

Generally, Your Weight x Distance Covered = Energy used in walking. So on an average, a man weighing 150 pounds will burn around 100 calories per mile; a 200-pound man burns about 133 calories per mile; and a man of 250 pounds will burn 166 calories per mile. A simple rule of thumb is that a 180-pound man will burn 100 calories per mile.

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Walking achieves it health and weight loss benefits because it can be almost as challenging as any other form of exercise. Increasing your walking pace will make you burn more calories per mile because while walking at high speeds you will be making use of more sets of muscles to move your legs forward involving more arm and torso movements than when you are walking at slower pace. These extra muscle movements burn up extra calories with each step you take.

You can also increase the amount of calorie you burn while going for a walk by carrying a backpack or extra weight such as a weight belt. You need to make sure to watch your posture as these might put extra strain on your hips.

However, to get the best from walking as with other types of exercise, you will do far better by incorporating high intensity interval training into your walking regime. How?

High intensity interval training simply means that you alternate some quick energy burst during your walking session with your usual walking pace. You can do this for instance by:

  1. Walking at your normal pace for about 5 minutes
  2. Next increase your speed to about 70-85% of your normal heart rate for about 1 minute; then
  3. Go back to your normal walking pace again;
  4. Repeat the above cycle to efficiently make use of your walking session.

Some useful safety tips for walking

  • Consult with your doctor first especially if you had a recent injury or have a chronic medical condition.
  • Ensure you keep yourself hydrated before, during and after your walk and more so on warm days.
  • Take safety precautions by being aware of your surroundings and also by making sure someone knows where you are and when you are to be expected back
  • In the same light, try and be as visible as possible by wearing bright clothes during the day and try putting on something white or reflective at night.
  • Remember to always walk facing oncoming traffic if you are walking on the road
  • Wear appropriate footwear that has good arch support with a slightly raised heel that has stiff material to support the heel when walking.
  • Always warm up by walking at a slow or normal pace before increasing your pace to allow your body to prepare your joints, muscles and heart for the walking session.
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Walking however should not become just another exercise regime to become tired of as it is something you can easily incorporate into your everyday lifestyle while at work, outdoors or at home. For example, you can walk over to the next office instead of making a phone call, take the stairs instead of the lift, park your car a little further away from your office and walk the remaining distance or even walk your children to and from the park on weekends. Just make life a little active around you by walking anytime the opportunity is there.

Walking can actually boost your weight loss even if you can just manage to make the effort and engage in a small amount of it every day. For overall quality health and fitness, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you do a 20-60 minutes of continuous activity – walking can easily fill this space – for about 3 to 5 times every week at 60-90% of your maximum heart rate and to add 2 to 3 days of resistance training. Through walking, you can easily achieve this goal and reap the weight loss benefits that come with it.