Thursday, June 13, 2024

Does walking every day aid weight loss?

Walking — this simple movement that most people can do, does make magic happen. An exercise that doesn’t require much skill or special equipment, contributes to overall health, is a great form of physical activity that’s free, low risk and one of the easiest forms of exercise to incorporate into your day-to-day life. 

Time and again it is proven to be the most effective form of exercise for all age groups, and as we know exercising is a must to stay fit and healthy. 


Calories burned while walking —

Walking is the simplest form of exercise, which makes it appealing to many people, especially those looking to burn a few extra calories. The calories you burn depends on a lot of factors like your weight, the speed at which you walk, terrain, climate, your age and even sex. Your body needs energy in the form of calories for all the complex chemical reactions to take place which allow you to to move, breathe, think and function. People who are more physically active burn more calories than those who live a primarily sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle not only contributes to weight gain, but also increases your risk of developing health problems.


Walking can help you lose weight and keep the weight off —

Walking every day can help you burn calories and even lose weight. Just walking for one hour a day can help you meet your weight loss goals. 

Many people who lose weight end up piling it all back if it isn’t maintained. Regular exercise is  important to help you maintain your weight and burn the unwanted calories of the day. A regular exercise routine that includes walking will allow you to stay active in the long run. Many view walking as an ineffective weight loss system but walking for just one hour everyday can definitely help you shed those extra pounds. 


Walking also helps preserve lean muscle —

When people try to lose weight by entering a calorie deficit,but it is important to know that often you lose some muscle along with body fat. This can be counterproductive if too much muscle is lost because muscle is more metabolically active than fat. This means that having more muscle helps you burn more calories each day. Walking can help you preserve your muscle when you lose weight, reduce age-related muscle loss and help you retain your muscle strength. 


Walking reduces belly fat — 

Storing a lot of fat around your midsection can cause a lot of health issues. One of the most effective ways to reduce belly fat is to regularly walk. An aerobic exercise like walking is key to shedding fat around your midriff.  


Walking also improves your mood — 

Everyone knows that exercising is a sure shot way to uplift your spirits and boost your mood by making your brain more sensitive to the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine. These hormones make you feel happy, stimulate the release of endorphins and say bye bye to depression and anxiety. The elevated mood will automatically make walking an easy habit to incorporate in your life. 


Other health benefits of walking — 

Walking has many health benefits like decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels, an improved mood and stable blood pressure levels. These benefits in turn reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and overall mortality. 

 To lose weight, you must consistently eat fewer calories each day to stay in a calorie deficit.  You can do this by increasing the calories you burn via exercise, decreasing the calories you consume, or both. Walking promotes weight loss, especially when combined with a low calorie diet.


How to start walking for exercise — 

If you want to incorporate walking into your daily routine, there are many ways. First off, start slowly, at a comfortable pace and then progressively increase your duration and frequency. 

Once you can walk as long and as frequently as you’d like, you can increase the intensity of your walk. 

If you’re just starting, immediately walking fast and for a long time can leave you fatigued, sore, and unmotivated. If you are typically an inactive person, consider stepping it up at a slower rate to reduce injury risk. 


There are different levels of walking — 

– Slow fat burn which focuses on longer duration and slower steps.

– Cardio walking is a brisk forty minute walk, almost like a jog, this races your heart rate and burns calories. 

– Uphill walking is good for your core muscles and reduces belly fat.

– Downhill walking is a strain on the knees but good for body balance, take small steps, almost like a shuffle, it pumps your energy levels and keeps your knees intact.


How to shake up your routine if it is getting monotonous — 

Just like any exercise regimen, shaking things up often, keepings things alive and fresh.  Here are a few tips to stay motivated and engaged —

    • Modify your route: Walk a different route or through a different neighbourhood. You could switch to walking on a treadmill or even taking your usual route in reverse.
    • Split up your walking time or change times: If your goal is to walk for an hour everyday, try splitting up into two 30 minute walks. If you regularly walk in the morning, try walking in the evenings, or vice versa. Just for a healthy dose of change. 
    • Walk with a partner: Sometimes walking with a partner can keep you motivated and who doesn’t love a good gossip session while walking. 
    • Listen to music, an audiobook or podcast: Keep yourself entertained and you won’t even notice the time fly by
  • Use a fitness tracker to log your steps and keep yourself motivated.
  • Join a walking group, company is always welcome. Time flies!


The bottom line —

Walking is a great form of exercise, and doing so for one hour each day may aid in weight loss and provide other health benefits. By the way, fat loss begins only after the first twenty minutes of your walk, so if one hour seems too much initially, begin with 30 minutes, then gradually increase for better results. Every little bit helps —

  • so start small and try to gradually increase the amount you walk daily. 
  • Try upping your pace or walking on an incline. 
  • Walking with hand or ankle weights can also boost the intensity of your walk. 
  • While it might seem insignificant, 50 calories burned a day adds up to the total. Take a look at your schedule and determine how you can begin to incorporate walking into your daily routine.

 Just like they say every drop counts- every step counts. 

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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