Exercising for weight loss isn’t just about running, circuits classes or HIIT training. Regular walking is a great way to burn fat. Jeff Archerexplains the benefits.
When it comes to losing weight, many people think they need elaborate training plans and lengthy exercise sessions in order to see results. In many cases however, it’s precisely this notion that losing weight will require lots of effort and major changes to current lifestyle routines that’s enough to put people off getting started.
In fact, if you’re looking for quick and consistent weight loss, what really matters is the regularity of your activity, which is why walking, although often underrated, is a great addition to your workout routine. While walking may appear as though it won’t get results as fast as other forms of exercise, most people are more likely to venture out for a stroll than to drop by a HIIT class or get on a spin bike, so what it might lack in intensity, it makes up for in accessibility, often meaning that by the end of the week, those who walk regularly often accrue more activity time than those who set out, but fail, to do things they deem far more active and beneficial.
The great thing about walking is that it’s probably the easiest form of activity to fit into your daily routine. You don’t need to get changed, no special kit is required and you can do it anywhere. You can make it a feature of your day to create a break from work or family life, or you can fit it in as part of your commute or everyday schedule. You can do it at home and it’s a great way to explore new places on holiday.
It’s also an easy way to establish or fine-tune the exercise routine that brings you the results you’re looking for. To achieve this, all you need to do is track your current level of walking, which you can do easily with most phones or wearable technology if you have it, and then, if you’re looking to lose weight, use your current routine as a platform to build from. Regular monitoring in this way will ensure that you always have a clear idea of the precise amount of walking that will lead you to your desired results. This information puts you in complete control of when you’ll reach your weight loss targets.
Increasing your steps
For example, let’s say you currently achieve 5000 steps per day. If you set yourself a target of increasing this by 500 steps each day for the next ten days, you’ll very soon achieve the recommended 10,000 steps per day. Once you’re in a position where you’re regularly achieving this, you can assess how this behaviour change impacts on your weight loss. Then you can either look to continue increasing your daily steps or, if you stick with a target of 10,000 steps a day, aim to achieve this by walking faster or include some challenging terrain within your 10,000 steps. Seek out stairs where you can or any hills on route as both will make you work harder.
Push your boundaries
To get the most out of your walking, aim to push yourself out of your comfort zone as often as you can. Get into the habit of assessing your effort level on a scale of one to ten. A gentle stroll probably feels like a three out of 10 effort and, while this will help with fitness and weight loss, boosting things up to a 7 or 8 out of 10 effort will bring you much faster results. And faster results are always a great motivator to keep going!
How to get the best weight loss results with walking:
- Set yourself daily, weekly and monthly targets
- Track your progress so you can keep pushing yourself
- Monitor the way in which regular small efforts add up to large results. For example, if you manage your 10,000 steps a day you’ll walk more than 63 marathons in a year!
- Create positive associations with walking. This could be walking with the dog, meeting friends to walk, using your walks as a way to unwind and de-stress or, providing you’re in a safe environment, listening to music or podcasts while you walk
- Always focus on how you’ll feel after a walk rather than how you might not feel like getting out there. If in doubt, aim to do a short walk. Chances are that once you get started you’ll do more than you thought you would
- Make it a habit. If you walk similar routes at regular times, you’ll find that very soon you’ll do this automatically without having to think too much about how you fit your walks into your regular routine
- Reward yourself for steps achieved, distances completed or regularity of walking
- Always remember that if you don’t make the effort to walk regularly, you’ll be missing out on fresh air, great scenery, a simple way to reduce stress and a sure fire route to steady weight loss