Can Walking Help You Lose Weight?

Think walking won’t get the pounds off? Think again! A consistent walking routine is one of the most effective ways to drop pounds and keep them off.

Walking is safe, cheap and simple. No gym fees, no fancy equipment beyond a good pair of shoes. Just left, right, repeat.

Here’s a look at what walking can do for you and how to use it to get the pounds off.

How Walking Burns Fat

The fundamental rule of weight loss is using up more calories than you consume. When you walk at a moderate pace for 20 to 30 minutes, and do it regularly, your body burns fat and builds muscle, which can speed up your metabolism.

There’s no question there is more to effective weight loss than calories in, calories out. It is influenced by what you eat, your body weight, metabolism, genetics, hormones and more.

According to experts, what actually gets rid of the pounds is watching what you eat. Shawn Talbott, PhD, who is a nutritional biochemist and was director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, says weight loss is 75% diet and just 25% exercise. The role of exercise is burning some calories, building muscle, keeping the weight off, and staying healthy.

So you need to watch what you need if want to see the scale move. But you definitely need exercise to make the your weight loss efforts successful, especially in the long run. And there is nothing safer and easier to do than walking.

To drop the pounds, according to weight loss experts, don’t over complicate it. If you consistently exercise, cut back on junk food and increase your fruits and vegetables, the odds are high you will consistently lose weight.

How Many Calories Can You Walk Off?

How many calories you burn each day depends on how much you weigh, the duration of your walk and its intensity. A very general average is 400 calories in an hour if you walk at 4 miles an hour, which is one mile in 15 minutes.

That doesn’t mean you need to walk 4 miles to see benefits. Fit in half a mile at a moderate pace five or six times a day. That’s an extra 2.5 to 3 miles. That’s 250 to 300 calories burned.

With a little planning, it’s easy to add short bursts of walking throughout your day. One of the easiest pays is to get off the bus or park your car half a mile from work or home. During breaks at work or for part of your lunchtime, take a brisk walk.

How To Burn More Calories

According to Mark Fenton, the walking expert and author of The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss and Fitness, you can up your calorie burn with a few simple tweaks.

  • Posture. Walk with your shoulders back, chin level and eyes forward will improve your calorie burn. It also helps you look more graceful.
  • Intensity. Don’t worry about long strides. The most effective walking is based on more frequent steps. A good base is 45 steps in 20 seconds for a part of your walk. Walking faster for a short time is more effective for weight loss and health than a longer walk at a slower pace. Feel comfortable mixing a few fast intervals in during your moderately paced walk.
  • Arms. Bend your arms to propel yourself forward.
  • Feet. Push off with each step. This adds power to your walk.

According to Wendy Baumgartner, a certified marathon coach and online guru on the benefits of walking, walking poles are an excellent way to burn more calories. They increase the burn even if you don’t add intensity by turning your routine walk into an upper body workout.

Another way to burn more calories is to walk hills. A person burns off about 60% more calories when going uphill. On your walks, include hills as much as possible to lose more weight.

Don’t Get Bored

To keep it interesting, don’t follow the same path every day on your walk. Choose a different park to explore in your neighborhood. Walk to a store or the library.

Don’t stop walking in bad weather. Invest in a treadmill. Or buy walking gear that keeps you warm and try and head outdoors.

The best exercise is the one you do. And you can walk just about anywhere, any time. It is an excellent component of an overall weight loss plan that includes healthy eating. Go walk yourself thin!

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