We all know the stereotype of people who power walk: seniors striding briskly around the mall or down the street in their neon spandex, fanny packs around their waists, and 3-pound weights in hand. But maybe those power-walking seniors are on to something. So can you lose weight by walking? Or reap any health benefits at all?
Studies say yes, it’s absolutely possible! Walking is great for your health, and when combined with healthy eating, it can help you lose weight!
Maybe running is hard on your knees, bike seats are uncomfortable, or you’re not quite flexible enough to do yoga—walking is an easy, no-frills way to exercise that can be done almost anytime, anywhere. It’s important, however, to keep in mind that it’s not just the act of walking that will help you lose weight—it matters what kind of walking you do, the frequency at which you do it, and what foods you use to fuel your body.
When done together, these three components will help you not only lose weight but live an overall healthier lifestyle.
Mix it Up
It’s important to mix up a few different types of walking to optimize your results. Walking at the same slow pace every day won’t push you, and while you may notice benefits when you first start, eventually your body will get used to it and you’ll hit a plateau. Switching it up is a good way to keep your metabolism on its toes.
Power walking is a great low-impact cardio alternative to increase your heart rate. Doing it 2-3 times a week will lead to more fat loss at a faster rate (fun fact: people who powerwalk lose around four times more body fat than people who casually stroll… Even if they burn the same number of calories).
In addition to power walking, you should walk on an incline, either on a treadmill or outside along a hilly street, a couple times a week. Walking on an incline, even a small one, builds muscle, and even if your goal isn’t necessarily to gain muscle, you do need them to support your joints and prevent injuries.
When powerwalking and walking on an incline start to feel easy, you can push yourself even more by throwing in light weights (ankle or dumbbells).
Consistency is Key
Walking once a week really won’t do much for weight loss. In addition to the usual advice health professionals like to give (take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further from the entrance, etc.), you also need to maintain consistency if you want to see any sort of progress.
Experts recommend getting in at least 15,000 steps a day (Fitbit’s 10,000 step-a-day goal isn’t just an obscure number!), and getting in at least three 20-minute walks throughout the day. As an added bonus, taking a short break every few hours will also help you focus better at work.
Weight loss isn’t an overnight feat, so patience alongside consistency will ultimately give you the best results—just don’t give up if you don’t see dramatic results immediately.
Don’t Dismiss Your Diet
You could walk around the world and it wouldn’t make a difference to your weight loss if you have a poor diet. Apart from leading to physical changes in your body, eating a balanced diet also properly fuels your body so you have more energy for your workouts. Even a low-impact activity like walking requires energy, and binging on fast food certainly won’t enable you to give your all.
If you’re having trouble following a clean diet, check out 10 ways that you can build healthy eating habits.