Walking for Weight Loss
Walking for weight loss isn't difficult. It's quintessentially human. Brisk walking mild cardio exercise for weight loss promotes psychological as well as physical well-being. We'll show you how to walk effectively for those psychological and physical benefits. You can do it indoors on a treadmill or outdoors, whichever you prefer.
There are two kinds of exercise that burn fat, namely, fitness and strength. Moreover, there are two kinds of fitness exercise, namely, mild and intense.
Actually, a single exercise is never just 100% fitness-promoting or 100% strength-promoting, but the fitness/strength classification is helpful.
If you hate exercise, are overweight or obese, are not sure whether you are in reasonably good physical condition, or if you are older than middle-aged, then we suggest that our Mild Cardio Walking Plan 1 might be more suitable to begin with.
Here we have a choice of two good walking for weight loss plans.
The Plan 1 page link awaits you, near the bottom of this page, under the large heading 'Web pages related to this page.'
If you are healthy, young or middle-aged, and you are in reasonably good physical condition, then use the plan on this page, which is the Mild Cardio Walking Plan 2.
So, let's learn how to do it.
Walking is mild fitness exercise
When done at the brisk pace recommended here, walking is mild or moderate intensity cardio exercise. It can be part of an overall fitness approach to physical well-being, as well as weight loss.
Brisk walking has important psychological (and also, sometimes, social) benefits. It's also very good for your body in many ways.
Let's assume here, though, that you are really only interested in walking for weight loss. Is it good for that purpose?
Yes. Furthermore, everyone already understands how to walk. On the other hand, it is not the best kind of exercise for fat burning.
Since moderate intensity exercise (at 60 to 65% VO2max) burns 55% fat after about 20 minutes, many trainers mistakenly promote it as the best exercise for losing body fat. In fact, burning fat during exercise is not ideal. Why not?
It's because you are teaching your body to store fat to be used as fuel for your next exercise session. This is the opposite of what you want! If you have tried walking for weight loss and it hasn't worked well, this may be the explanation.
On the other hand, if you enjoy it and are willing to put it a lot of time doing it, walking can, nevertheless, be effective. If you hate exercising, it may be your best choice. For many reasons, it is certainly better than not exercising. So, are you ready to begin?
Even if you hate it initially, don't be surprised if you come to enjoy it! If you get in the habit of going for a brisk walk regularly for its psychological benefits, you may wind up successfully walking for weight loss without even trying.
Neither too little nor too much
Walking is like medicine.
All kinds of exercise are like medicine [medication]: a proper dosage is required. It is important to take the right dose of exercise for maximum effectiveness.
This should be neither too little nor too much.
The dose of fitness exercise that will promote lasting natural weight loss for you depends upon many variables such as your age, health, degree of cardiovascular fitness, quantity of regular fitness exercise, quantity of regular strength exercise, diet, and so on.
OK, let's get to it!
Do you want to walk?
If you have not read the general page on exercise, you may wish to do so first.
Do you really want to use walking for weight loss?
It is not necessary to walk; you may pick some other exercise instead of walking to lose weight. For mild fitness alternatives to walking, see the "Exercises" page. You will find the direct link to that page listed on our site map/index.
You may want to go for the gold: what is the best way to exercise to lose fat?
The answer is a combination of both intense fitness exercise and strength training.
We have clearly written pages on this website for how to begin either intense fitness exercise or strength training in a step by step way even if you have never done either. Especially if rapid fat loss is your goal and you are willing to do whatever it takes, please consult those pages.
Why are they superior for weight loss than walking?
It's because they promote fat burning after exercising for up to 40 hours! Since we spend a lot more time not exercising than exercising, this is important. They do this because they both promote lean muscle, which is your metabolic furnace. By weight, muscle burns several dozen times more calories at rest than fat.
So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn 24 hours a day. Furthermore, because they are more intense, both intense fitness exercise (namely, GXP, HIIT, or PACE) and strength training require less time than walking for weight loss.
So, it's up to you. Incidentally, even if you do go primarily for intense fitness exercise and strength training, you may still walk briskly for 30 or 60 minutes once weekly.
(We offer lots of excellent pages on strength/weight training.)
Put all the odds of success in your favor
Assuming that you have decided to walk, how should you begin walking for weight loss? Slowly!
You may not have done any fitness exercise for decades. Please be kind to yourself! By beginning slowly, you will minimize discomfort by allowing your body ample time to adjust.
Additionally, put all the odds of success in your favor. Buy a new pair of athletic shoes designed specifically for walking, in other words, not running, jogging, or cross-training shoes.
(If you'll be walking multiple times weekly, it's actually best to buy two pairs of walking shoes and alternate them. By letting them dry completely before using them again, they'll actually last longer than one pair used exclusively for a while and then replaced by a second pair. The initial price is higher, but the long term cost is lower.)
Use them only for your walking exercise and replace them at least yearly.
Ensure that your toenails are properly trimmed, that your feet are clean and dry, and that you wear clean white athletic socks.
Design for yourself, preferably with your physician's blessing, a progressive walking for weight loss program that will enable you to cover four miles in just less than one hour in 90 [or 180 or 360] days.
Your walking guidelines
Do not do walking for weight loss on consecutive days; walk every other day or simply walk three times weekly (for example, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays). This will give your body time to rest and adjust.
If you decide to do your walking for weight loss exercise outside, ensure that you follow the safety rules presented in the general exercise section and that you are dressed in layers, suitable for the season or climate.
For example, a Gore-tex (or equivalent) suit and mittens are invaluable on cold or rainy days. On warm sunny days, wear at least a protective hat and top made by Solumbra from Sun Precautions in Everett, Washington, or buy from a similar company.
Do not begin your walks with wet or damp shoes.
How far and how fast
Here at lasting-weight-loss.com we advocate a simple, two step walking to lose weight program. First, slowly increase the duration until you are able to continue for sixty minutes.
Second, slowly increase the pace until you are able to cover four miles in that hour.
With respect to duration, on the first day [or for all three walks for the first week] walk for five minutes. That's it!
(If you want them, there are tips for warming up and cooling down on the Cardio Walking to Lose Weight Plan 1 page; its link is provided above.)
On the second day [or for all three walks for the second week] exercise for ten minutes. Add five minutes each time [or each week].
After twelve days [or twelve weeks], you will be walking to lose weight for an hour.
Don't focus on weight loss. That will happen naturally if you are following this program and eating well.
Losing 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds of body weight means that about a 1 pound fat loss.
Do not rely on memory
Since what is measurable is easier to improve than what is not, let's use that fact to work for you. Do not rely on memory. Old saying: the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory!
Keep a walking for weight loos training log. Keep a training log in which you record at least the date, the number of minutes you exercised, and how you felt physically during and after your walking to lose weight session.
Sharing your log with your physician may enable you to obtain some valuable extra input.
After you are walking for weight loss regularly for one hour without any residual discomfort, it's time to add the distance measurement. Measure the distance you are actually covering.
Increase your pace slightly each time [or each week] until you are covering four miles per walk.
For example, an easy way to do it if you walk outside on a road is simply to measure a point two miles down the road from your starting point.
If you are actually covering two-and-one-half miles in one hour, the next time, simply pick up your pace slightly and go a bit farther, say, 1.3 miles down the road before turning around. Soon you'll be covering 3 miles in an hour.
In a few more weeks or months, you'll be covering 4 miles in a one hour session of walking to lose weight. Walking every other day this will produce excellent psychological benefits as well as, perhaps, some reduction of body fat.
Do you walk 10,000 steps?
A good way to ensure that you are getting a minimum amount of physical activity is simply to take 10,000 steps throughout the day. For this you don't necessarily need to do anything special or have access to a treadmill or any other exercise machine.
It depends upon how active you usually are. There's no general reason why you shouldn't walk at least 10,000 steps every day, whether or not you also engage in any kind of training session.
However, you will need a pedometer to measure your steps. (Wal-Mart sells a decent one for about $5! It's a Sportline Step & Distance SB4202.)
Of course, if you have been relatively inactive, begin slowly to increase the number of steps you take each day. Gradually increase them until you exceed 10,000.
Very roughly, walking a mile is about 2,000 steps. So, if you walk four miles for about 8,000 steps, you'll only need an additional 2,000 steps all the rest of the day to exceed 10,000.
The walking process need not be rushed
Don't rush the process. Just exercise a little bit better each time. Think of it as mastering the art of walking well. Mastery always requires persistent practice of the right kind.
You'll find that 4 miles per hour is a rather vigorous pace. In fact, for folks in their 80's or 90's, it may be too vigorous. Be guided by your physician as well as by common sense.
If you have the time and enjoy walking, this can be a beneficial program.
Do not increase your pace so that you are covering the four miles in less than 56 minutes if you are also be doing intense fitness training and strength training. Doing so would increase your chances of overtraining.
Walking for weight loss tip
One last walking for weight loss tip:
Use mild cardio exercise to discipline your mind as well as your body. It will help you to stick to your walking to lose weight program. This really does work!
Try the following.
With each step, say silently to yourself: (left step) "healthy", (right step) "fit", (left step) "strong", and (right step) "lean." Just keep repeating, "healthy, fit, strong, lean."
Even if you listen to an audio program, you may be able to keep the "back" of your mind focused on the mantra instead of on random, distracting thoughts. If you don't listen to an audio program, just keep bringing your mind back to one of these four words with each step. Try it! You'll find that it greatly enhances the relaxation effect of walking to lose weight.
If you have not been getting regular fitness exercise, you'll quickly realize that you are getting more from your walks than less body fat. You'll begin feeling better—much better!
If you are eating well, regularly walking 4 miles in an hour, and still dissatisfied with your percentage of body fat, what should you do?
Really focus on your diet. Are you, except on your once-a-week cheat day, really getting 25 grams of less of carbohydrates?
Assuming that you want to do more walking for weight loss than switching to strength training and intense fitness exercise, try working up to walking 5 miles in 75 minutes six days weekly.
Normally, the injury rate beyond 60 minutes duration spikes, which is why we do not usually recommend it. However, if you have been walking regularly for months and have tolerated that well, it's unlikely you'll have any difficulty adding in an extra mile.
If you do follow that program for a month and are not losing enough fat and have already tightened your diet, what should you do? In consultation with your physician, of course, we'd recommend cutting back on your walks and doing GXP three times weekly. It may be that your body is one of those that thrives on exercise!
Walking for weight loss related web pages
If you are overweight or obese, are not sure whether you are in reasonably good physical condition, or if you are older than middle-aged, you may prefer our easier
walking to lose weight
You may also wish to see the Fat Burning Exercises page, you will find the page link at the very bottom of this page.
Recommended books for this topic
If you are following this walking for weight loss program, to maximize the natural benefits it is critical that you eat correctly.
Below are some suggestions to enable you to do that:
All the above books are available at Amazon.com
Numerous health benefits walking for weight loss
Link to the YouTube video above, for those who might want to save it for their YouTube video list