How to start walking for weight loss and get results

Walking is the best choice to form the core of a weight-loss routine, and getting started losing weight through walking can be easier than you think. While you may think you need expensive classes or gear to get fitter, walking burns calories, builds strength in your legs and increases your cardiovascular fitness. The way to get real, long term results from walking for weight loss is creating a daily walking routine that you can stick to. Build up your step count, get more intense, and eat healthier and you’ll start to notice the pounds coming off.

These simple steps can help even a total beginner start walking to lose weight today. If you already walk for fitness, check and see if you’re already following these steps because they can help you get back to basics if you hit a plateau.

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Is Walking a “Good Enough” Exercise?

Senior couple fitness walking in a sunny park
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Many workout beginners fail to recognize how significant a walking routine can be for them. They think that fast runs or heavy weights are necessary for success. However, walking is not only fantastic as a low-impact exercise that can be done by individuals of all fitness levels. It’s hard to even list the health benefits of walking, but here are a few:

  • Improved Mood: Taking a daily walk boosts your mood, and can help with anxiety, insomnia, depression, and even seasonal affective disorder.
  • Improve Chronic Conditions: Research has shown that walking helps decrease your risk of many serious, chronic conditions. Walking is effective at reducing your risk of heart disease, certain types of cancers, diabetes, and even arthritis.
  • Weight Loss: Most people think if they want to lose weight, they have to run at a very high speed to see any movement on the scale. But the truth is that consistent walks can have amazing results on your waistline. Even if it’s just walking for 10 minutes at a time, as long as you keep on increasing your daily activity you’ll see weight loss results.
  • Boost Immunity: Studies have shown that walking may be directly linked to boosting people’s immunity and reducing their chances of getting a cold or even the flu. The research done indicated that individuals that walked at a moderate pace for at least 30 minutes a day had 43% fewer upper respiratory tract infections and sick days. You can actually still walk with a (minor) cold and it’s often good for feeling better.

Some people think they have to invest in expensive workout classes or commit to long and tedious workout programs to get the results they want. What they get instead is them giving up on their ambitions to get fit and healthy because of all the hassle and confusion they signed up for. Walking can be just the thing to get you started, plus it’s easy and free!

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Walking Routine

Senior women walking in park with yoga mats
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As is true for any exercise, walking doesn’t change you instantaneously. It takes time, commitment, and consistency to start seeing results. However, the more often that you walk, the faster the results will come. As a beginner, you may not know where to start with your walking routine. By following the suggestions below, you will get the most out of your walks, stay consistent and motivated to walk, and prevent overtraining and injuries.

  • Start Slow (15 minutes): As a walking newbie, our best piece of advice is to start slow. Even though walking is a low-impact exercise, it’s real cardio that can take more out of you thank you expect. When you first start, aim for a moderate-paced 15-minute walk. Make sure you start with a light warm-up, before progressing to a brisk walking speed. When you’re finished your walk (or when you feel yourself start to tire), slow down to a leisurely pace to cool down before stopping. As you get comfortable with this routine, you can begin increasing the intensity of your walks, as well, and amping up the duration to the recommended 30 minutes a day.
  • Focus on Form and Posture: If you want to get consistent steps and avoid injury you must learn proper walking form and posture. Maintaining these will not only help you build strength but keep you injury-free throughout your walking program.
    • Make sure your head is up and your eyes are looking forward as you walk. This will help lengthen your stride and keep you from slouching as you are walking.
    • As you walk, try to engage your core – your abdominal muscles and glutes. If you cannot do this for the entire walk, aim for shorter intervals.
    • Bend your arms at around a 90 degrees angles, and let them swing naturally as you walk.
  • Listen to Your Body: Starting any new exercise routine can leave muscles sore and tight. If you start noticing any pain after walking, make sure you listen to your body and give it the rest that it needs. Sometimes some light stretching can do the trick; other times, you may need to take a day off so your muscles can recover.
  • Grab a Friend and Set Some Goals: Sometimes, the best way for you to stick to your routine is to grab a friend and set some goals. Checking in with yourself and an accountability partner will not only help keep you on track, but it’s a great motivator to help you keep going.

How to Kick your Walking Routine Up a Notch

Man doing jog or intense fitness walk in city
Lordn / Shutterstock

The critical takeaway from walking for weight loss is that walking can have a tremendous impact on you mentally and physically as well as on your waistline. However, sometimes when you are trying to lose weight, walking alone may not be enough. Next time you find yourself on a weight loss plateau, try throwing in some of these simple suggestions to boost your weight loss to the next level.

  • Nutrition: Walking is excellent for weight loss. However, most people miscalculate the calories they are putting into their bodies versus the calories they are burning. To get the most from your walks, it is also essential for you to focus on your nutrition as well. Maintaining a healthy diet as you walk will have you feeling great and losing weight in no time.
  • Strength Training: Incorporating some strength training into your walking routine is a fantastic way not only to combat weakness but help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fragility. Strength training will help make you stronger so that your walks will become faster and longer.
  • Flexibility: Incorporating some flexibility exercises, like yoga or even light stretching, can help keep your joints mobile and give you better range of motion while you walk. More flexibility can also help you prevent injuries and keep better posture while walking, which means you can walk longer more safely.

What Walking Can’t Do

Female friends walking for fitness in the morning
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

It’s just as important to understand the limitations of walking for weight loss so that you set reasonable, realistic goals. This keeps you motivated, and ensures that you’re doing all of the important little things to make your walking weight loss program succeed

It’s hard to out-walk a bad diet

The truth is that it’s always easier to eat (or drink) calories than it is to burn them by walking. Depending on your walking speed and weight, you might burn 200-400 calories by walking an extra hour a day. That’s about the same as a cheeseburger and less than many blended coffee drinks. While walking will definitely benefit your health and every calorie you burn count, what you eat matters just as much as how much you walk.

Walking takes dedication

To get the benefits of walking, you need to keep walking over the long term. The secret to sustainable weight loss is to build active habits that are easy to maintain. Fortunately, walking is versatile and fun, and you can change up your walking routine as often as you like!

Set realistic goals

It’s important to be realistic about your weight loss and fitness goals. You should understand that actors and athletes may have a team of personal trainers and chefs plus all day to work out. Walking can build a great basis for a weight loss and fitness routine. Once you get more fit and experienced, you can always look into more intense forms of strength or cardio exercise.

Final thoughts

Scientific studies are constantly showing that incorporating walking into your exercise routine leads to some impressive physical and mental benefits. And the beautiful thing about walking is it doesn’t take a lot of effort or expenses to get started. So next time you want to lose some weight and improve your health, grab your walking shoes, and start putting one foot in front of the other.

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Sources:

Is walking daily “good enough” exercise? (2018). By Jillesa Anderson. Intermountain Health Care. 

How Walking Can Help Reduce Health Risks. (2016).Community Health Center of Snohomish County (CHC).

What to know about walking for weight loss. (ND). Medical News Today.

Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults. (2011). By Nieman DC, Henson DA, Austin MD, et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine

The importance of strength training. (2016). By Andrea Aguilar. Michigan State University. 

 

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