You might have lost weight in the past using different diets, but you weren’t able to sustain it over the long term?
Or perhaps you’re looking for a healthy way to lose weight naturally and you’re asking yourself “will walking really help me to lose weight?”
In this article i’ll cover some of the many reasons that simply walking more is a great way to lose weight, and will hopefully inspire you to think about how you can incorporate walking into your everyday life.
In short, while the calories you burn on any individual short walk may be relatively low, it is a great way to get outdoors and get moving more. Walking more often is very easy to pick up as a habit, and as you start to walk more regularly you’ll notice the benefit.
As we’ve said many times before, walking is a key part of the 500 Calorie Workout.
Keep reading for more information…
Everybody knows the proverb that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, but do we really believe it? And how often do we use it to our benefit?
In our modern lives it is easy to be overwhelmed by information, and we often assume that there is a new, scientific way of achieving our goals. Ideally a way that cuts out the hard work.
We overlook the tried and tested ideas that have been passed down through generations over thousands of years.
How many times have you heard someone say “i’ve tried all the fad diets, but I just can’t lose the weight”.
Their problem is often twofold:
- They don’t recognise that life is a journey of a thousand miles – They want to see success right now, and don’t have the patience to make changes for the long term
- They don’t start with a single step – They go straight into a sprint, trying to do too much at once and run out of steam before they even start to see the benefit
A good approach to making sustained change in any area of your life is to have a long term vision that you’d like to achieve, but start really small with something that you can do today, or even right now.
Walking to lose weight
When it comes to health and exercise we can take this approach quite literally; start with a single step.
Starting small has a number of really important benefits:
- You know you can do it – There is no confusion or self doubt around whether you can take a couple of extra steps per day.
- It’s easy to begin with – You can start as small as you like, you could literally start with a step. This means that you won’t dread doing it, you won’t look for excuses not to do it, and you’ll be able to keep at it until you make it a habit.
- It’s easy to scale – Once you started walking a bit and you are feeling comfortable, it’s easy to increase your effort simply by walking faster, or for a longer period of time.
- It doesn’t take up much time – To start with you can literally take just a few minutes to get a few extra steps. Over time, as you start to increase the length of your walks you can look to incorporate it into your everyday life, for example you could park your car slightly further away from the office or the shops so that you have to walk the last 10 minutes.
- It doesn’t require any equipment – You won’t need to buy anything, or learn how to use anything new in order to start walking more. You can just get on and do it.
- You’ll do more than you plan – The fact that you can start small means that you can build momentum really easy and often you’ll be able to exceed you walking targets. If I commit to walking for 10 minutes extra today and i’m able to do 12 or 15, it builds a sense of achievement that you can carry into your next day.
If you track your progress over time, you will clearly be able to see the impact that your walks are having, and will be motivated to keep doing more and more.
How many calories can I burn by walking?
Clearly, walking for just a few minutes extra every so often won’t burn sufficient calories for you to notice weight loss in any reasonable amount of time.
According to MyFitnessPal.com, walking at a leisurely pace for 20 minutes will burn roughly 70 calories.
You can get a more accurate measure of the calories you will burn using the calculator here.
However, as mentioned previously, the idea is to start small and then build up to bigger things. For example, by increasing the pace slightly, and walking for a further 10 minutes (30 minutes total) you could burn around 130 calories.
You can start to see how this would have a positive impact if sustained over a long period of time.
If you are finding this quite easy and want to burn some extra calories, I might suggest stairs for you. Adding a flight of stairs, or steep hill inclines to your walk will dramatically alter the muscles that are under strain, and also increase the calories burned during your walk.
Another option would be to consider wearing ankle weights while you walk. This extra resistance will help you burn more calories and build up extra strength in your legs.
Benefits of Walking
Countless studies have shown the positive impacts of walking, not just on weight loss but also on lifespan.
Research in the UK in 2015 found that “Just 25 minutes of brisk walking a day can add up to seven years to your life”.
Researchers showed that light exercise could reduce the risk of heart attack by up to 50% for some people.
Other benefits of walking include:
- Improved mood – A 2014 study by the University of Michigan showed that “taking group nature walks is associated with a whole host of mental health benefits, including decreased depression, improved well-being and mental health, and lower perceived stress.” Full article here.
- Strengthens bones – “Walking has been shown to reduce your hip fracture risk by as much as 40%”. Full article here.
- Improves sleep – “A bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia compared to a night in which they did not exercise (Passos et al., 2010)”. Full article here.
So what now?
Rather than attempting another diet or exercise regime that they cannot stick to, many people would be better off losing weight by walking everyday. As we have discussed before, getting your mindset right is an equally important part of achieving your weight loss goals, and walking is a really simple but effective method that anyone can apply, which will allow you to start feeling good about exercise right away.
It is undeniable that walking helps lose weight. Anything that you can do to get your body moving and burning more calories will be of benefit.
The next step is in your hands, so give it a go, you may be surprised how much weight you can lose by walking, especially if you are able to combine exercise with elements of the 500 Calorie Diet.