FACT: Women who walk at least four hours a week reduce the chances of heart disease by as much as 35% (Manson et al, 1999).
Walking is an instinctive thing; we go on bipedal mode sometime after our first birthday and don’t really pay much attention to it then on.
After all, what’s there to it? Even regular activities can make you commit to taking anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day.
Sounds like a lot, but here’s the kicker, for all its commonness the majority of the people are walking wrong!
Not only does this mean that little benefit is reaped from it in terms of weight loss, but many also end up with twisted tendons, pulled hamstrings and back aches.
Fitness expert Tony Gallagher explains – “Children from the age of 8 onwards start copying the way their parents walk.
You can see this in families strolling down the street and it has obvious disadvantages if they pick up their bad habits”.
So how can you lose weight by walking?
Read on to find out.
Lose weight by walking the correct way
Before we get to setting up a routine for you, the first thing that needs to be done is learning how to adopt the correct posture. A good posture is pivotal in helping you lose weight by walking; Richard Handford from the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists recommends the following as a good walking method:
- Stand with relaxed shoulders keeping them pulled back and down a little.
- Focus on keeping your chest lifted; this will give you a good straight posture.
- Keep your chin tucked in, this aids the muscles in your neck to provide your head with support.
- Keep your hips level and knees pointing forward.
- When you start walking, make sure that you are taking equal steps, don’t over extend, when you over extend you increase the chances of injury.
- While taking steps, land with your heel first, then naturally let the pressure transit to the ball of your feet, finally push off from your toes and repeat the cycle.
Congrats! You just learned how to walk properly, the way good science suggests. Now let’s get you some speed to lose that weight and get back in shape!
The pace at which you walk is one of the three variables which determine how many calories you burn and how much weight you lose, the other two variables are how much you weigh and the distance you walk.
Typically, on an average walking speed of 3 miles an hour, a 180 pound person will burn 100 calories for every 1 mile he/she walks while a 120 pound person will burn round about 65 calories for every 1 mile.
However more weight loss can be achieved if the intensity of the exercise is increased by walking faster.
Start by walking as you normally would (observing the posture mentioned above) for about 10 – 15 minutes as warm up.
This will tell your muscles that they should get ready for an exercise of some intensity, meaning they will need to start using up your fat reserves and not just burn sugars.
Now speed up; you should be walking at a noticeably “determined” pace in order to trigger weight loss.
Your heart rate should be clocking at 60% to 70% of its natural state and you should become slightly out of breath. Walk as though you are about 10 minutes late for an appointment.
Now continue walking at this pace for 30 minutes and you are well on your way to losing weight.
Lose weight by adding a little variety to your walk
Over a period of time, your body will become accustomed to the “walking routine” you will set for yourself. However this is actually detrimental to helping you lose weight by walking.
Personal trainer Debbie Rocker says “you can actually cut your workout time in half and get the same results, simply by changing the way you walk”.
If you always do the same routine over and over again, your body becomes accustomed to it and goes into conserve mode. In order to ensure that it does not become lethargic, change the pace of walking every now and then, use a treadmill instead of walking outside once or twice a week, try out a different terrain when you get fed up of walking the same place.
By adding more variety to your walking, you bring in more muscle groups into play and your body will have something to cope with.
Get the right shoes for the job
Now before you go out pounding the pavement, make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes. After all, how can you lose weight by walking if you do not even have the right tool for the job?
Many a times, people tend to opt for running shoes thinking since these are built for running (a far more strenuous exercise), they can handle walking with joy.
Truth is, running is an entirely different dynamic and requires a different type of shoe.
Runners hit the ground with as much as 3 times their body weight, on the other hand the average walker only puts down about 1.5 times his/her body weight.
This is the reason why running shoes have more cushioning material, especially in the heels within them.
However this also makes them heavier. Walking shoes on the other hand trade cushioning for weight and are designed to be light while providing adequate padding and all around comfort.
Also, runners strike the ground from the front part of the heel to the mid section of the foot and even toe first depending on the individual, whereas walkers will always go heel first; this difference is well exhibited in their respective shoe design.
Running shoes have higher, more padded, raised heels in order to compensate for running; walking shoes on the other hand have beveled heels.
ECCO Sport Biom Train – I give this shoe a 5 STAR rating!
ASICS Gel-Tech Walker Neo 2
So can you lose weight by walking?
Lets face it, almost all of us want to lose weight and shed some fat!
As long as you observe the rules above, there is no doubt that that you can lose weight by walking 30 minutes every day.
One piece of advice is that you should focus on changing your mind set; if you focus on changing your body you are conditioning yourself to fail by making the exercise a temporary affair.
Start to adopt a healthy lifestyle with good, balanced nutrition along with a 30 minute walking routine and before long you will have achieved your weight loss goals!
Thank you for reading!
To learn more about losing weight and walking check out fitness magazine’s article right here.