Is walking a good way to lose weight or are you better off going for a run? How can you increase the fat burning potential of your walks? Learn everything you need to know about walking for weight loss.
- 1 How walking can help you lose weight
- 2 Is walking more effective than running for weight loss?
- 3 Other benefits of walking
- 4 How to incorporate more walking into your lifestyle
- 5 Ways to make walking more effective for weight loss
- 6 Conclusion walking for weight loss
If you want to stay fit and healthy it’s important to exercise regularly. This is common knowledge. However, it doesn’t have to be some super intense workout.
Walking is a moderate form of physical activity that, nonetheless, has amazing health benefits. It’s free, low risk, low impact, gentle on the knees and almost anyone can do it… anywhere. You also don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment.
Walking more often is also a great way to burn fat and lose weight. Modern living and working environments mean that most people spend a lot of their day sitting. Especially if you have an office job.
Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle can not only contribute to weight gain. It can also increase your risk of health problems. It’s often referred to as the ‘new smoking’. So, trying to get more exercise by walking more often can not only helps you lose weight but also reduces these risks.
How walking can help you lose weight
Any form of activity burns calories, whether it’s running, walking, lifting weights or gardening. To lose weight you don’t only have to burn calories. You also want those calories to come from fat.
Walking a mile or 1.6 kilometers burns approximately a hundred calories, depending on your gender and weight. This is still a significant amount. You can bump up the amount of calories you burn even further by increasing the intensity of your walk.
Walking burns belly fat
Storing a lot of fat around your midsection is a risk factor for diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. One of the most effective ways to reduce belly fat is to regularly take part in aerobic exercise such as walking.
In one study obese women who walked for 50 to 70 minutes three times per week for 12 weeks on average reduced their waist circumference by 1.1 inches or 2.8 centimeters and lost 1.5 percent of their body fat.
Other studies on the effects of walking briskly for 30 to 60 minutes have observed similar results typically people are losing an additional 1 to 2 inches off their waist after 12 weeks compared to those who don’t do any walking.
Walking can help you keep weight off
Did you know that most people who lose weight end up gaining it back? Regular exercise can play an important role in helping you maintain the weight lost. For example walking not only helps increase the amount of energy you burn but it also helps you build more lean muscles. This helps you burn more calories, even at rest!
A recent review estimated that to maintain a stable weight you should walk at least 150 minutes per week. However, if you’ve lost a lot of weight you may need to exercise more than 200 minutes per week to prevent yourself from regaining it.
Regular exercise like walking is just so important for maintaining weight loss. So, if you’ve worked hard to lose the weight in the first place… make sure that you stay active to keep it off!
Is walking more effective than running for weight loss?
Generally, the higher the intensity of the exercise, the the more calories you burn. You will burn more than twice as many calories during a 30 minute run than you will during a 30 minute walk.
A six-year survey collected data from more than 15,000 walkers and 30,000 runners to see which group lost or maintained weight more efficiently. The study found that when burning the same amount of calories each week, runners were able to control their weight more efficiently over time than walkers and were leaner overall.
The study suggests that the reasons for more efficient weight loss among runners may be:
- The after-burn effect of higher-intensity exercise. Research indicates that a 45-minute vigorous exercise bout increases metabolic rate for 14 hours.
- Appetite control. Another study showed that runners had higher levels of peptide YY in their body. This is a blood hormone that suppresses appetite. The runners actually ate 200 fewer calories than they burned during their exercise, while walkers ate 50 calories more than they lost during their walk.
So, if you’re looking to lose weight as quickly as possible then high intensity exercises like running or HIIT may be the way to go.
Does this mean that walking isn’t worth your time if you want to lose weight? Absolutely not! There are a couple of reasons why walking may actually be the better choice for you:
- Walking has a significantly smaller injury risk than running. Research indicates that runners have a 20-70% injury risk, compared to 1-5% for walkers.
- The best type of exercise is the exercise you actually do. For a lot of people it’s much easier to incorporate more walking into their life than it is to stick to a regular running schedule.
Further on we’ll look at some simple ways you can increase the intensity of your walk to make it more effective for weight loss.
Control your appetite
As mentioned earlier, high intensity exercise like running or HIIT can lead to higher levels of the appetite suppressing hormone peptide YY. This helps prevent overeating after workouts.
Walking doesn’t offer this benefit. This means that you should guard against overeating after your walk. Many people overestimate the amount of calories they burn during their walk.
Need a snack after your walk? Go for a healthy option!
- Best Healthy Snacks For Weight Loss
- Healthy, Filling Snacks That Are Under 200 Calories
- The Best High Protein Low Calorie Foods
If you want to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. This means burning more calories than you consume. So, to reap the weight loss benefits of walking it should always be combined with a sensible diet.
Other benefits of walking
Walking isn’t just a way to burn more calories. It has a lot of other health benefits that make it well worth incorporating into your lifestyle.
Walking improves your mood
Super important! Physical activity has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. This isn’t hippie-dippie stuff either! It does this by making your brain more sensitive to the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine. These hormones relieve feelings of depression and stimulate the release of endorphins… which make you feel happy.
This is a great benefit in itself. However experiencing an improvement in mood when you walk regularly might also make the habit easier to keep up with. Basically, we tend to exercise less if we don’t enjoy it, which can often be the result of the exercise being too demanding or just really unpleasant.
This makes walking an excellent choice. It’s a moderate intensity exercise and it’s usually something you can do with someone else. This is likely to motivate you to walk more rather than give up. So, if you can find a walking buddy or two even better.
Walking has many other mental and physical health benefits. See also:
How to incorporate more walking into your lifestyle
Ideally you should aim to walk for around 2.5 hours per week at a brisk pace. Here are some ideas here that might help you to reach that goal:
- Use a fitness tracker and log your steps to motivate yourself to move more
- Make a habit of taking a brisk walk on your lunch break or after dinner
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible
- Ask a friend to join you for an evening walk
- Walk your dog everyday or join a friend on their dog walks
- Take a walking meeting with a colleague instead of meeting at your desk
- every time try picking new and challenging routes to keep your walks interesting
- join a walking group
Every little bit helps, so don’t be afraid to start small and gradually increase the amount you walk each day!
Ways to make walking more effective for weight loss
We’ve already seen that, if your goal is to lose weight… the higher the intensity, the better! Here are some simple ways to increase the intensity of your walk:
Pick up the pace
Research shows that the higher the intensity of an activity, the more calories you burn. One of the easiest ways to increase the intensity of your walk is by simply walking faster. A 30 minute brisk walk is going to burn significantly more calories than a 30 minute stroll at a leisurely pace.
Add some weight
The more weight you carry while walking, the more calories you are going to burn during that walk. This is why your walks will actually be more effective if you’re overweight! You can increase this effectiveness by adding even more weight.
Simple ways to do this are:
- Wearing a weighted vest, ankle and/or wrist weights
- Simply wearing a backpack with added weight. You can fill it up with bottles of water, books or even bricks
One study shows that people who walk at 2.5 miles per hour on a flat surface while wearing a weighted vest that weighs 15% of their weight, burn 12% more calories than those who carry that extra weight.
Another way to burn more fat during your walk is by walking on an incline. If you live in an area with a lot of hills then try taking a route that has you walking uphill a lot.
Of course, you may not have hills at your disposal for your daily stroll. If so, there are other ways to walk up an incline. One way is to find an area that has stairs you can walk up. Another thing you can do is use a treadmill and set it at an incline.
You can increase the fat burning potential of your walk even further by carrying extra weight while walking uphill and increasing your pace.
Conclusion walking for weight loss
If you want to lose weight, walking is an excellent activity to start doing more of. It’s easy to find ways to increase the amount of time you spend walking. Besides weight loss walking also boasts numerous other benefits.
However, walking isn’t the best activity to lose weight. Research shows that higher intensity exercises like running or HIIT are more effective for losing weight and keeping it off. That being said, there are simple ways to increase the intensity of your walks, making them more effective.
Regardless of the type of exercise you do… it should always be paired with a sensible diet. Many people have the tendency to overeat after workouts because they greatly overestimate the number of calories they burned while exercising.