Walking exercise for weight loss is probably the easiest and most accessible form of physical activity that can be exercised by almost everyone. It is an activity with a minimal level of injuries and beneficial effects. These can range from reducing heart diseases, diabetes or even cancer while improving mental health.
It helps longevity, improves health whilst supports weight loss management.
This post analyzes how walking as a daily exercise can help you lose weight.
Walking helps you to burn more calories
In order for our body to operate daily, it must have the appropriate fuel in the form of calories found in the food we consume daily. The body converts food and water into energy (measured in calories). This energy allows the body to perform everyday activities, like moving, walking, running, eating, breathing or even thinking.
Based on the gender, the height, the age, and the activity level the number of daily calories varies. In generic terms, the calories consumed daily should not exceed the calories burned in order to lose weight. The trouble begins when you consume more than your body burns to lead to weight gain.
However, nowadays living may demand a large amount of the day to be sitting in front of a PC minimizing the daily activity level. This usually leads to weight gain and health problems.
In order to burn more calories, try to increase your activity level by walking. It will help you reduce health problems. Specifically, walking a mile (1.6 km) burns approximately 100 calories, depending on your sex and weight.
Walking or Running?
Walking exercise for weight loss has similar health benefits with running. However, running is better for weight loss as it helps you burn more calories. Actual data prove that running can burn up to 2,5 times more calories than walking. A 75 kg person running 8 mph would burn over 600 calories per hour compared to about 300 calories walking at 3.5 mph.
Still running is a high-impact exercise. High-impact workouts can be harder on your body than low-impact exercises like walking.
Yet, both forms of exercise contributed significantly to the number of calories burned. Increasing the intensity of your walk or change your walking routes with hills or slight inclines will help you burn even more calories.
Walking Maintains Muscle Mass
Whether an exercise burns fat or muscle is not a product of the specific exercise. Any exercise can burn muscle. The key factor for our body to use fat or muscle mass as an energy source is a result of the nutritional intake prior to the exercise as well as the duration of the exercise performed.
In the case that you perform an exercise in a fasted state, meaning you haven’t eaten for more than 8 hours and you walk, run or swim for more than 20 minutes, it is likely that you will begin to burn more muscle than fat. The level of intensity is also important to determine whether the muscle is burned.
In the general healthy population, muscle break down from walking is unlikely to take place because there are enough alternative sources of stored energy in our body for fuel. Glucose resulting from the process of digesting carbohydrates is the body’s preferred first source of energy. After that, the body turns to fat which is the backup source, in the form of lipids or fat cells. Usually, the fat burning process kicks in after 20 minutes of moderate/high-intensity cardio exercise. After that, if your body is in a state of undernourishment, it may begin breaking down lean muscle mass for energy.
When people cut their calories intake in order to lose weight, they often lose some muscle in addition to body fat. While weight loss reduces your metabolism, walking can help you reduce the drop in metabolic rate that often occurs with weight loss, making your results easier to maintain.
Walking is a Belly Fat Burner
Excess belly fat apart from making your waistline bigger, it also raises blood sugar levels and increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or even diabetes. In extreme cases, excessive belly fat is also linked to colorectal cancer, breast cancer, dementia, and stroke.
However, belly fat can be readily broken down and used as energy by your body. Is the form of fat that responds fast to cardiovascular exercises. Brisk walking is a low-impact moderately intense cardiovascular activity. It gently increases your heart and breathing rates and doesn’t put excessive stress on your joints.
Studies conducted at the University of Virginia show that taking 3 fast-paced short walks a week and 2 slower-paced longer walks for 5 days a week can help cut up to 2 inches off your waistline and shed up to 8 pounds in only 16 weeks without dieting.
Walking is a Mood Booster
Walking can play a major role in your overall mood as it helps to boost endorphins. Endorphins are the “feel‐good” chemicals in the brain that cause the feeling of euphoria.
Studies have proven that walking may help to lift your mood more than running. In research, walkers reported feeling better than their running counterparts not only after completing the exercise but while doing it as well. 20 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises, such as walking, has been found to be enough to boost your energy and lift your mood for as much as 12 hours.
A range of studies has proven that walking can also help in the fight against depression, make you feel more confident and healthier and even improve your ability to complete daily tasks. All these elements can help to lift your mood and fight depressive symptoms.
Another benefit of outdoor walking on a regular basis is the increase in vitamin D levels. A deficiency of vitamin D has been linked with an increased risk of depression.
How Long to Walk Each Day for Weight Loss
The majority of people who lose weight end up gaining it all back. However, regular exercise is very important in weight loss maintenance.
Incorporating more walking into your day can help you increase the amount of exercise you do and contribute towards your daily activity goals. Walking regularly can help you increase the amount of energy you burn on a daily basis.
A brisk walk of 30 to 90 minutes most days of the week is ideal for weight loss. The walking time can vary, but the total time for the week should be at least 150 minutes.
Exercising at moderate intensity zone at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate is a key factor for weight loss. You should be breathing harder than usual while can speak in full sentences. It is preferable for achieving fat-burning to walk at a brisk pace for longer than 30 minutes at a time after warming up.
If you’re getting started you can start with shorter periods of walking and steadily build up your walking time. You might want to take long walks at a slower pace every other day at first.
Don’t skip more than one day in a row. Consistency is key for improving your metabolism and burn fat. If you’ve hit your weight loss goal and are working on maintaining your weight, the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends you should spend 60 to 90 minutes most days of the week in moderate-intensity physical activity while not eating more calories than you expend all day.
How to Incorporate More Walking Into Your Lifestyle
The latest research shows that sitting too much is more dangerous than smoking—and 30- to 60-minutes of exercise a day isn’t enough to counteract it.
Doing more exercise than walking for around 2.5 hours per week at a brisk pace, has additional health benefits and reduces your risk of disease even further. There are many ways to increase the amount of walking you do and achieve this target.
- Use a fitness tracker and log your steps to motivate yourself to move more.
- Stand up or walk for all phone calls.
- Make a habit of taking a brisk walk on your lunch break or after dinner.
- Invite friends for walks instead of coffee or lunch. You’ll burn calories instead of consuming them.
- Walking with a friend can help you build a stronger relationship with him.
- Take a walking meeting with a colleague, instead of meeting at your desk.
- Walk to work. If it’s too far, park your car further away and walk the rest of the way.
- Try picking new and challenging routes to keep your walks interesting.
Every little bit helps, so start small and try to gradually increase the amount you walk daily.
You Still Need to Watch What You Eat
Exercise is key for weight loss, however, eating habits are even more important. Healthy eating with daily exercise is the secret to success. If you have increased your walking and the weight still going up, you need to pay attention to what you are eating. You need to consume fewer calories and follow a healthy diet. A diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a moderate amount of unsaturated fats every day. This along with frequent exercising can help you avoid extra weight gain and maintain a healthy weight.
Walking is a moderate-intensity exercise that is very beneficial to your health. It is accessible by almost everyone and can be easily incorporated into your daily life.
Walking more often can help you boost your metabolism thus losing weight and belly fat. It boosts your mood through endorphins and increases vitamin D levels in your body.
If you want to lose weight, combine physical activity with healthy changes to your diet.