Did you know that walking is one of the healthiest forms of exercise you can do to lose weight? Per the Mayo Clinic, here are just a few benefits of walking as exercise:
– Maintain a healthy weight
– Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
– Strengthen your bones and muscles
– Improve your mood
– Improve your balance and coordination
In no way is the above list all-inclusive. Here are some other known benefits:
– Relieves arthritis pain
– Boosts the immune system
– Tones your leg muscles
– Improves respiratory function
– Stimulates circulation
– Relieves symptoms of PMS
– Improves our memory
– Boosts libido
For this article, we’re going to discuss how walking can help a person lose weight. We’ll also provide some helpful tips for getting the most out of your walking experience.
Walking to Lose Weight: How much?
To start with, 30 minutes of brisk walking is a great goal. When beginning any exercise regimen, it’s important to progress at the rate that your body adjusts.
While 30 minutes may not sound like a whole lot, consider just how far you walk in a half-hour period:
– 1.5 to 2 miles (2.5 to 3.3 km)
– Approximately 3000 to 4500 steps (!)
It is helpful to set realistic, achievable goals for yourself; the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week (brisk walking falls into this category.)
When you add it all up, walking between 15,000 to 22,500 steps a week may help you to either (a) lose weight, or (b) help maintain a healthy weight range.
There are many devices available (some have gotten cheaper!) that can help you count the steps and lose weight; although, it works just as well to keep track of time – provided that you walk at a swift pace for a full 30 minutes each time!
Walking, although a relatively simple form of exercise, still requires some technique. Here are a few tips:
– Walk smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe.
– Slightly tighten your stomach muscles
– Keep your back straight, not leaning forward or backward
– Swing your arms freely and naturally, with a slight bend at your elbows. (“Pump” your arms if you prefer to get a bit more upper-body exercise.)
– Keep your back, neck, and shoulders relaxed at all times
– Keep your head up, looking forward, not at the ground.
As you prepare to get your walk on and lose weight that you are ready to release, here are a few important things to keep in mind:
– Get the right gear. Choose shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel, and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock.
– Wear comfortable clothes and gear appropriate for various types of weather. If you walk outdoors when it’s dark, wear bright colors or reflective tape for visibility.
– Choose your course carefully. If you’ll be walking outdoors, avoid paths with cracked sidewalks, potholes, low-hanging limbs or uneven turf. If the weather isn’t appropriate for walking, consider walking in a shopping mall that offers open times for walkers.
– Warm up. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise.
– Cool down. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.
– Stretch. After you cool down, gently stretch your muscles. If you’d rather stretch before you walk, remember to warm up first.
While 30 minutes may sound like a lot of time, it can easily be broken up throughout the day! Here are some tips for getting in your 30 minutes of daily walking:
– Walk to work and elsewhere instead of driving
– Park farther away from your work office or building
– Take your dog for a longer-than-usual stroll (they’ll love it!)
– Keep a stopwatch (keep track of every minute)
It’s also very important to stay motivated if you really want to lose weight. Beginning a walking program takes initiative and a bit of self-discipline. Here are a few motivational tips:
– Make walking pleasurable: ask a friend or neighbor to tag along; put together a playlist of some of your favorite music.
– Take small steps: don’t fret about not getting in “exactly” 30 minutes every day. Set a mini-goal, such as “I’ll take a 10-minute walk during my lunch break.”
– Vary your routine: plan a few different routes to keep the walk engaging and enjoyable (always walk where it’s safe and well-lit.)
– Practice mindful walking: mindfulness has the amazing effect of keeping our brain and senses immersed in our environment. While your body is getting fit walking, your brain is getting a bit of a workout, too!