Walking Your Way to Weight Loss
Everyone wants to look good and feel good. We live in a society of excess — everything is super-sized and upsized. We consume more calories than we need and expend too little. Think about it: most of us have sedentary desk-bound jobs. In short, we’re eating too much and exercising too little. So to lose weight, all we need to do is eat less and work out more, right?
The truth is, it’s easier said than done. How many trips to the gym have you canceled this year? How many times have you promised yourself that you will go for a run after work, only to head straight home and on the couch?
That is why we recommend walking. It’s easy, and while it may not replace other exercise routines, it can be done by anyone, anywhere at any time. Walking requires no skill, no learning curve, and no specialized equipment. It doesn’t even require you to warm up or cool down. Just throw on some clothes and go for a walk. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Is It Possible to Lose Weight By Walking?
Would you be surprised if I told you that your body burns calories even while sleeping?
The body needs calories to function. The average human requires 2,000 calories every day. To gain weight, all you need to do is consume more than 2,000 calories. Likewise, consuming less than 2,000 calories a day will cause your body to lose weight. How? It will metabolize the fat and muscle in your body as an energy source.
Losing weight by only dieting is not recommended. Why? We need to exercise to maintain and preserve muscle tone to remain healthy. Just dieting and remaining sedentary is not going to do your health much good in the long run. Does walking help you lose weight? You bet.
Walking for Weight Loss
So why do we recommend walking? Mainly for practical reasons. Hands up if you have or had a gym membership. Do you visit the gym regularly, 3 to 4 times a week? Maybe you don’t have a gym membership. Perhaps you prefer doing cardiovascular exercises like running. When was the last time you put on your running shoes then? And if so, did you run consistently 3 times a week?
Exercising is about maintaining a regular habit. Putting food in our mouths 3 times a day is easy. But the thought of putting on a pair of Nikes and going on a 45-minute run is depressing to some.
Walking, on the other hand, is easy. It’s safe and doesn’t require any special equipment. For example, you can walk to the office (provided you live relatively close). Going out for lunch? Why drive when you can walk to a nearby cafe? Live in an apartment block? Walk the stairs. While we’re not suggesting that you walk to every location, it is the little bits that can add up.
Can YOU Lose Weight By Walking?
Any form of exercise—including walking—burns calories. It goes without saying that high-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, burns more calories than a simple walk in the park. So how many calories do we expend while walking?
If you walk 3 miles per hour, you’ll burn approximately 300 calories.
The more you walk, and the longer the distance, the more calories you will burn. People don’t generally think of walking as a form exercise because they don’t do enough of it. But the more you incorporate walking into your daily routine, the more calories you’ll start to burn consistently.
Why Choose Walking to Lose Weight Instead of Jogging or Strength Training?
First, it’s safe for all ages. Whether you’re 17 or 70, you can walk at a pace and distance that is comfortable for you.
Second, it’s ideal for those suffering from injuries. Running can take its toll on your knees, especially if you’re older and have weak knees. Walking, on the other hand, doesn’t irritate your hips and knees as much as running does.
Third, you don’t need special equipment. You can walk to the office as we recommended earlier. Of course, if you plan to walk more than 2 to 3 miles, then a pair of comfortable shoes would do you good. But there’s really no need for any special attire, gym membership, or sports accessories.
Lastly, you can do it at any time and on any day of the week. You can walk in the vicinity of your home, or take a quick 10-minute break at the office and do 2 laps around the block. You can walk during the day or at night. Raining or snowing? Walk the stairs in your office or apartment. You can lose weight by walking everywhere!
Formula for Walking to Lose Weight
So how much do you need to walk to lose X amount of calories? Here’s a simple formula:
- 1 pound equals 3,500 calories
- To lose 1 pound a week, you need to burn 500 calories a day
- To burn 500 calories a day, you'll need to walk 5 miles
- 1 mile is approximately 2,000 steps
Walking 5 miles a day to lose weight sounds like a lot. But if you split it up during the day, it would be possible to reach anything between 2 to 3 miles, even for the most sedentary person. Walk to work, take the stairs, park your car a little further from your home or office, get off the train one stop earlier and walk to your destination. Be creative and think of ways you can squeeze in those extra steps!
The secret is combining walking with a little calorie deficit. We’re not talking about complicated diet programs here. Just a simple daily calorie-counting program will help you.
Keeping Your Calories in Check
Walking is an excellent way to burn off calories. But if you want to speed up the process and lose more pounds, then you will need to keep your calories in check. That means counting calories every day. It’s tedious at first, but you will get the hang of it after a week or two.
Losing weight is not rocket science. The average male requires 2,000 calories a day to function as a human being. For women, it’s slightly less at around 1,700 calories a day. So to lose weight more quickly, you must consume less than your required calorie intake.
To lose 1 pound a week, you’ll need to consume less than 3,500 calories a week. That works up to around 500 calories a day. To put things in perspective, a cheeseburger is around 450 calories. That chocolate chip cookie? 150 calories.
Starting from today, record every single thing you eat and find out how many calories each item contains. For beginners, it is advisable to use a calorie-counting app. It’s tedious at the start, I assure you. But you’ll realize that after a week or two, you’ll be able to identify things quickly.
Once you are able to count and track your typical food consumption, you can begin to reduce your calorie intake. Start off small – don’t try to cut 500 calories on your first day. You’ll just quit after a week. Try taking your coffee without milk or sugar. It’s simple and reduces 50 calories.
It’s the small things that add up. If you cut 500 calories a day, and you walk 5 miles every day, that’s 7,000 calories expended. That works up to 2 pounds a week. In 10 weeks, you would have lost 20 pounds. Think about that for a moment.
Want some easy ways to cut some calories from your diet? Check out this short video:
The Afterburn Effect
Here’s something you need to know. Exercising doesn’t stop the moment you take off your shoes or sit down at your desk. All exercise has an afterburn effect. It is your body continuing to expend energy long after you have stopped your workout. Research has shown that it’s possible for the body to keep burning calories 24 hours after your last exercise routine.
How does it work? Simply put, your body needs to replenish its oxygen levels after a workout session. It also needs to remove lactic acid in your muscles, repair your muscle tissues, etc. All these require oxygen, and as oxygen consumption rises, more calories are burned while you remain at rest.
The technical term is “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC (I don’t know about you, but afterburn is easier to remember). Certain programs like strength training or HIIT contribute to a greater and longer afterburn effect. Lifting weights is going to create more lactic acid in your muscle and break down your muscles more, hence more oxygen consumption.
But have you ever gone on a long walk? Ever noticed how your heart rate increases? Your body is taking in more oxygen. Walking to lose weight is a sure way to engage the afterburn effect while you’re resting.
Walking for weight loss is a fabulous way to exercise and stay fit. It doesn’t require any special gear and is safe for all ages. There is no best time to walk; it is up to you to decide. You can walk to and from anywhere and at any time of the day.
Walking also has a low psychological barrier. The idea of going to a gym or putting on a pair of running shoes after work sounds tedious. But walking to your car or the train station is something you have to do no matter what.
So if you’re thinking about walking to lose weight, why not give it a shot and add it to your daily routine? Start reaping the benefits that walking has to offer today.