What you’ll learn in this blog…
It seems as if more and more people are going to the gym these days. Social media is flooded with folk sweating it out on the rowing machine at 6 in the morning.
It’s a great way to get into shape and lose weight, and you’d like to join them. But it seems like an awful lot of time and effort, never mind the monthly membership fee.
Well, here’s the good news!
There is a simple and effective way to start your weight loss journey without driving to the gym early, and it’s free of charge.
Walking is often overlooked as a means of weight loss as it seems “almost too easy.” But for the busy mum, it’s an ideal solution to exercising without disrupting the day’s busy schedule.
Walking will also get you into exercising, which may spur you to try other, more intense exercises to accentuate your calorie burn. The big bonus is that you can do it straight from home with little preparation, and it’s safe to do even post-pregnancy.
So put on your walking shoes and start creating positive habits today!
This blog explores the impact of introducing more walking into your routine and sharing a walking exercise plan.
How many steps a day should you take to lose weight?
10,000 is the magic number!
Research from JAMA International Medicine suggests that even getting half of the recommended 10,000 steps per day has various health benefits, including decreased risk of death.
This may seem a stiff target to those new to the exercise, but don’t worry. The plan is to build up slowly and gradually, starting with as little as 1000 steps daily.
Add 1000 steps to your daily walk each week, but only if and when you feel you can achieve it. Keep going until you’ve built up to the 10,000 recommended daily steps.
Does walking help you lose weight?
Ultimately losing weight is about burning more calories than you consume - and exercise is a great way to increase the calories you burn (meaning you can eat a little more while still sitting under your calorie allowance).
For women, it’s recommended that you consume around 2000 calories and 2500 for men. However, the exact number of calories will depend on your goals and activity levels.
While walking might be low-intensity, it’s perfect if you are intimidated by the gym, don’t have time or are easing yourself back into a routine. Plus, it’s a good habit to get into, even if you are undertaking more high-intensity exercises. It’s always good to get active and add as much movement into your day as possible.
So long as you are managing the calories you put into your body; you’ll be able to use walking as an effective means of burning them off.
How many calories do you burn walking?
How many calories you burn will depend on several factors, including how long you walk, how fast you walk, and what you weigh.
On average, it will take you 20 mins to walk one mile and will burn around 100 calories.
One way to calculate a more accurate calorie burn is based on body weight, which you can do by multiplying your body weight by 0.53.
For example, a person who weighs 140 pounds would follow this equation:
140 x 0.53 = 74.2.
Therefore, a 140-pound person burns 74.2 calories walking one mile.
How to introduce walking into your routine…
Fitting in a walk during the day is easier than you think, but you might have to be creative.
Remember, no rule says you have to walk 10,000 steps in one go. Several short walks during the day will add up and burn just as many calories as one long walk over the same total distance.
Start by thinking about how you can fit in walks here and there in a way that fits into your lifestyle.
Newbie mum? Why not take the baby for a walk in the park in the pram?
Need to go to the shops? Ditch the car and walk, or park a little further away and get your steps in.
Meeting a friend for coffee? Why not incorporate your steps into your social life and meet up for a chat and walk?
Think of ways to add even a few more steps into your existing routine, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they add up.
Get involved with the Parkrun…
For those who have some time at the weekend, the newly launched Parkwalk may answer your prayers for those looking to ‘dip their toe in the water.
The Parkrun has been a global phenomenon since launching 18 years ago and bringing a weekly 5K run to the masses. And now the Parkrun adds a walking element for those who aren’t ready to add running to their repertoire.
It’s a 5K walk every Saturday, and there are plenty of locations to choose from. It is a fantastic way to meet like-minded individuals on the same journey as you, and you can even take the kids, your dog, or both.
Who knows- you might end up progressing to jogging or running the event. If so, you can expect to burn an extra 30% of calories if you do so!
Parkwalk is free; you can sign up here and find a local Parkwalk event near you.
Related content: 5 ways to increase your daily step count
How to walk in a way that boosts weight loss
Once you’ve got into the habit of walking (or at least moving around more often), there are various ways in which you can accentuate the calorie burn.
1. Be ‘inclined’ and use hills.
Walking even slightly uphill will increase your heart rate and activate more muscles in your body. The extra intensity will help to build strength, which will, in turn, make you feel able to walk further over a more extended period and increase your ability to burn those calories.
Start by walking up a gentle incline for 30 minutes and then gradually find steeper gradients. Always increase by small amounts to reduce injury risk and to help your muscles recover more quickly.
2. Walk faster intervals.
If you feel ready, try increasing your walking pace. You can slow down whenever you feel the need and speed up when you’re ready again.
This will increase the distance you cover and increase calorie burn. This is a similar tactic used by runners when incorporating speed training, and it works well for walkers.
3. Use weights in your walking
If time is of the essence, don’t panic. Invest in some hand weights vest or some hand weights to carry while you walk.
These will add resistance to your effort and will mean you can gain the same effect over a shorter distance. It will help to build muscle in your body, strengthening your metabolism.
4. Add in additional exercises.
While walking, now and then, stop to do a few squats, lunges or push-ups. This will increase your caloric output and build muscle.
For every 5 minutes of walking, try to stop and do 1 minute of strength exercises.
Other benefits of walking
Even though the daily step count of 10,000 might be in contention, there is no doubt that moving more in general, even via low-impact exercise such as walking, is good for your body and health.
In addition to aiding weight loss, regular walking will help promote joint health and improve your posture. It can help to manage heart disease and high blood pressure. You’ll also find you have increased energy levels.
Walking has incredible mental health benefits too. Taking yourself away from the norm and taking time out is great for clearing your mind and pressing the reset button. This is especially true if you take in some picturesque scenery along the way.
Don’t worry if you miss a day or two.
It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself, especially when introducing regular exercise into your daily routine. It’s all about moving around MORE OFTEN. It’s also advisable to miss a day or two when you’re starting to give your body time to recover and muscles to repair.