Walking for Weight Loss – A Legitimate Less Stressful Alternative for Beginners and Pros
Walking is something that we all do every day. However, walking for weight loss is not something most people look at as a legitimate way to lose weight, burn fat and maintain a healthy weight. I used to think the same way.
After all a walk in the park by definition is something that sounds very easy to accomplish. What’s more? Usually when we picture someone doing whatever it takes to lose weight, we don’t imagine somebody walking. Instead we usually picture someone running as hard as they can on the treadmill covered in sweat, or someone at the gym pushing the iron.
However, the truth is that walking for weight loss consistently throughout the week can make a big difference in how you look and how you feel. This is especially true if you’re currently not exercising and you can’t seem to find the motivation to start working out since most people are undervaluing the benefits that walking can have on their body.
In this article I want to go over exactly what you can expect to happen if you simply take a 30 minute walk every day. I’m sure that the first thing that you’re wondering is can I lose weight by walking 30 minutes everyday? What good can come out of doing something as simple as walking actually help you lose weight?
Do You Really Need a Walking for Weight Loss Plan?
Well even though walking is not as hard as running or even jogging, it’s still considered a low to moderate form of aerobic exercise. If you walk either at a faster pace or for longer distances or you walk very often like everyday in all these cases you’ll be adding a good amount of extra calories to your deficit.
Now most of you have heard of the saying that you can’t outrun your plate or a bad diet. So you’re probably thinking that it’s very unlikely that you’ll be out walking a bad diet any time soon. Unfortunately, this is taken out of context even though a really bad diet will make it physically impossible to lose any weight at all.
Exercise happens to be just as important specifically for long-term success and when people say things like 80% of your results come from diet, it devalues the powerful effects that consistent exercises such as walking for weight loss brings to the table.
The reason why people think this way to begin with is because of a lot of the studies that compare the effects that diet and exercise have on weight loss end up coming to the conclusion that dieting alone usually results in more weight loss than just exercising alone. However, after reviewing a bunch of these studies researchers realized that the calories burnt from diet and exercise were not matched in most of these studies.
Sometimes the diet only group would be cutting away 1,700 calories per day and that would be compared to an exercise only group that will only be burning 200 extra calories per day. Obviously with a flawed setup like that the diet group will always come out on top.
But researchers found out that when calories are actually matched, weight losses matched and by finding this they were able to conclude that exercise alone without any form of diet restriction can be an effective strategy for losing weight.
Again even though you won’t be out walking a horrible diet, as long as you have a decent diet, walking every day can definitely move the scale in the right direction.
How Many Calories Can Walking Burn?
Walking burns about 100 calories per mile. If you walk at a fast pace you’ll burn anywhere from 150 to 200 calories in 30 minutes. If you walk at that same fast pace for an hour we’re looking at up to 400 calories. 200 to 400 calories per day can definitely make a big difference.
In one study, participants were instructed to only add a thousand steps per day without making any diet modifications. Not only did their leg strength, blood pressure and cholesterol levels improve but they also lost weight loss, visceral belly fat and improve their body composition.
Keep in mind that if you were walking at a moderate pace, a thousand extra steps would only take you about 10 minutes to accomplish. Other studies also support these findings.
In one of these other studies, participants were able to lose about an inch off their waistline and about one and a half percent off their body fat just by walking for about an hour 3 days per week. At the end of the study researchers concluded that walking is a safe and effective strategy for reducing body fat and for improving insulin resistance.
This is all assuming that you’re doing nothing else except for walking. It would obviously be far more beneficial to combine walking with other forms of exercise like resistance training throughout the entire week. Also, combine all of that with a well balanced diet plan.
If you’re walking and you’re also on a solid diet, research shows that it can help enhance the effects of your diet and workout plan. Now don’t get me wrong. Higher intensity activities like sprinting have a lot of advantages over lower intensity activities like walking.
For example, with higher intensity workouts you can get the same amount of results in 15 minutes that you would get after 45 minutes or maybe even an hour of a low intensity workout. On top of saving time, you could also build more muscle and improve ability to use oxygen more efficiently. But a really low intensity activity like walking offers its own unique advantages.
The Benefits of Walking for Weight Loss
1. Walking is Low Impact
First of all walking for weight loss is a very low impact and low stress activity making ideal for people with current injuries or for people that are currently out of shape or older that want to reduce the risk of getting an injury from exercise. According to one study the chances of getting an injury from walking is 25% lower than the chances of getting an injury from running.
Others estimate that it could be up to 50% lower and the reason for this is because running produces higher ground reaction forces which simply means that running creates more stress on your joints each time your foot strikes the ground. With walking, the ground reaction force is about 1.2 times your body weight meanwhile the ground reaction force from running is 2.5 times your body weight which is significantly higher.
This is why walking may also benefit people that are out of shape and are looking to start slowly.
2. Helps in Recovery Between High Intensity Workouts
Walking isn’t only great for beginners, it’s also great for more advanced people that are trying to add in some active recovery in between their other workouts.
While high intensity training can exhaust your central nervous system and it could leave you feeling tired for your next workout, walking can actually help you with soreness and recovery instead. This makes it a great way to burn some extra calories without decreasing your performance levels for your next workout session.
Now again this doesn’t mean that there aren’t just as many great benefits that you’ll get from running or a higher intensity training especially if we’re looking at the amount of time spent for the amount of calories burnt. This is why I personally still prefer high-intensity interval training over lower intensity training like walking because it helps me save time.
But if you would rather spend more time working out at lower intensities because that’s something that you can actually consistently stick to without feeling constant resistance, then that’s what you should be doing and that’s actually another very powerful benefit of walking for weight loss every single day. It’s a lot easier for most people to maintain.
3. Maintaining Lost Weight
You can walk anywhere so you don’t need a gym. It doesn’t interfere with your other workouts and like I already mentioned it’s relatively stress-free compared to other forms of exercise. According to studies, exercise is important when it comes to losing weight. But it might be the most important thing when it comes to maintaining that weight loss potentially even more so than diet.
In this study researchers stated that the most common method for weight loss is diet but they also say that diet does not provide a long-term solution. Over 50% of the people that lose weight by dieting end up regaining the weight making dietary change more and more difficult to maintain over time.
These researchers claim that exercise is the only factor on the energy expenditure side of things that can actually be voluntarily controlled over the long term and when I say long term I’m talking about years not months. Biggest Loser contestants actually experience this exact thing firsthand.
A study that took place six years after the Biggest Loser competition found the people that maintained a significant weight loss had either 80 minutes a day of low to moderate intensity activity like walking or 35 minutes a day of higher intensity activity like running.
The bottom line is that while diet is super important for losing weight, consistently exercising may be the most important thing to keep that weight off. Now even though the Biggest Loser contestants were walking 80 minutes per day to maintain their dramatic weight loss, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity like brisk walking every week.
This would be the equivalent of five (5) 30 minute walking sessions per week which should be doable for almost anyone and that alone will provide a ton of health benefits including the prevention of
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- type 2 diabetes
- stroke and
- osteoporosis just to name a few.
This makes walking for weight loss a great addition to your current exercise routine and if you’re not exercising, just by walking you can literally add years to your life. But the truth is that yes, you can lose weight by walking 30 minutes everyday.
In fact one very large study involving over a million men and women over a 14-year period showed that simply meeting the minimum guidelines of walking just 150 minutes per week can reduce your risk of natural cause mortality by 31%. That should be enough motivation to get even the people that dread exercise the most to put on their sneakers and go out for a walk.
This study also showed that people that got three to five times more activity than the minimum guidelines decreased natural cause mortality by 39 percent. Now I know three to five times more activity may sound like a lot especially if you’re just trying to get into the swing of things.
Again but just starting with the relatively low physical guidelines without doing anything else that alone can motivate you to slowly adopt a healthier lifestyle. it might motivate you to eat a better diet and when you start seeing some changes in the mirror from your diet that’ll motivate you to change more aspects of your lifestyle ultimately snowballing into true lasting changes.
A Word of Advice If You’re Overweight
I do want to mention that if you happen to be overweight walking is gonna be very beneficial for you but over time you will have to do more to continue seeing progress by eating a well-balanced diet and by adding in three weight training sessions per week you can be guaranteed to see some pretty impressive results much faster.
You’ll lose a lot more body fat as long as you have a diet that incorporates healthy foods while giving you the right amount of calories and lowering your insulin levels.
From the discussion above, you can just see how powerful simply walking 30 minutes a day can be for your weight loss goals and overall health. You don’t need an elaborate plan to pull this off. Keep it simple to make it easy to follow. Walking for weight loss is great and very light on your bottom line. You also get to experience the outdoors and enhance your mood.
What are some of the benefits you have experienced walking for 30 minutes or an hour a day? If you have any additional tips for our readers feel free to share them in the comments section below.