By Diana Sanchez, Staff Writer
Photo by Stephanie Greene on Unsplash
Many people mistakenly think that they have to do very intense exercise to lose weight. But did you know that you can, quite easily, walk yourself thin?
That is not to say that walking isn’t a strenuous activity. It certainly can be! There are many things you can do to make your walk feel like more of a workout, like adding weights, walking uphill, or power-walking. But at it’s most basic level, walking can be just as effective for dropping the pounds as any other activity.
How Can I Walk to Lose Weight?
One of the most functional qualities of walking for weight loss is that you can be at any fitness level to walk to lose weight. For those beginners who haven’t done much exercise lately, walking is simple, easy to do, and worthwhile. For those who are very fit, walking can be a low-intensity exercise that helps to increase their active time, and allows their muscles to recover from their high-intensity workouts. Also important to note, walking is a very relaxing activity. You can certainly walk on a treadmill but you can also choose to walk outside and enjoy everything nature has to offer. You will definitely find yourself feeling more at peace and content after a nice, long walk.
So how can you walk for weight loss? The following are guidelines for someone who has recently decided to incorporate exercise into their daily life and is ready to get started improving their overall fitness level.
Guide for Walking for Weight Loss
#1 You will need the right shoes.
There are a variety of athletic shoes made for different purposes. It’s important that you find a pair of shoes that are manufactured with walking in mind. You also have to consider the shape of your foot, and overall comfort. Walking, while it will not get your heart rate up to very high levels, is a tiring activity. Trust me, finding the right shoes is key to being able to walk for as long as you want.
#2 Start off with small, achievable goals - then build on them.
If you have not been exercising much lately, do not set a goal for yourself that you can’t reach. For example, walking 5 miles might be too much of a challenge to set for yourself on day one. I recommend that you pick one thing to measure: it can be steps, distance, or time. Gradually work your way up as you become more fit and as walking gets easier for you. For example, it is generally recommended that we get in at least 10,000 steps every day - but that averages to be about 5 miles on average for most people. If you typically average just a few hundred steps a day, shooting for 10,000 might be a little much. 2,000 steps are about 1 mile. You can begin by aiming for 1,500 steps and setting a goal to walk another 500 steps every time you walk after that, gradually building up to those 10,000 steps - and beyond!
If you decide to set a time goal, 20-25 minutes of walking is a good place to start. If you decide to walk outside, you can walk 10 minutes away from your house and then walk that distance back. So easy, right? Then you can add another 5 minutes every time you walk!
If you choose to measure your improvement using distance, you can choose to walk half a mile, and tack on ¼ of a mile every time you walk after that.
If any of these are too easy for you, and you feel like you can handle more, definitely set more ideal goals for you. But as long as you stick to a plan that focuses on improvement and progress, your fitness level will improve, and the pounds will melt off!
#3 Be consistent.
The key to losing weight lies always in consistency. This applies to your diet, as well as exercise. You can’t expect to lose much, if any, weight if you only walk once a week, or less frequently than that. The good news is that walking is a low-intensity, steady-state exercise. That means that you can do it quite frequently, without causing yourself injury. It’s very safe.
#4 Make your walk enjoyable.
There are many things that you can do to make the time fly by on your walk. You can take your phone and earphones and listen to a podcast, an audiobook, or music as you walk. You can also find a walking buddy to talk to on your walk. The more enjoyable your walk is, the more likely you will be to go on your walks again and again.
#5 Track your progress.
Track your progress on your walks! You will be amazed to see how quickly your stamina and strength grows, and if you have an app that records and saves your walks you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come. Some free apps include MapMyWalk, Fitbit App Mobile Tracker, Apple Watch Workout, and Nike Run Club App.
If you’ve decided that you finally want to take the next step and get back control of your fitness and your weight, do it. Exercise is good for you and will leave you feeling happy, and accomplished. You won’t regret doing this for you!
As I mentioned before, diet plays a huge role in weight loss as well. If you’re looking for diet plans and ideas, check out these blogs.