Any form of physical activity can help you lose weight, but walking has a few extra benefits. Walking is a low-impact exercise that is safe and simple. It doesn’t require that you take specific classes or hire a personal trainer. You don’t even have to waste money on special equipment; all you need is a pair of supportive athletic shoes. Additionally, unlike many other types of exercise, walking probably won’t lead to any injuries.
While you obviously already know how to walk, there are a few pointers to take into account to turn everyday walking into a workout. Begin with a five-minute easy warmup and then stretch your muscles before walking. Include a quadriceps, hamstring, calf and side stretch. Next, increase your pace until you reach a brisk walk. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five minutes to cool down.
If you are new to working out or have taken an extended hiatus, start slowly. At first, just walk as far as you can comfortably. Over the next few weeks, gradually increase your walking time until you hit 30 to 60 minutes per day, most days of the week. The American Heart Association explains that you need to get 60 to 90 minutes of moderate physical activity most days if you want to lose weight. But don’t worry; you don’t have to do it all at once. Take a few walking breaks throughout the day and you’ll easily hit that total before bedtime.
To lose weight, you need to be walking with at least a moderate intensity. A moderate intensity is 50 percent to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is subtracting your age in years from 220. Keep checking your heart rate throughout your walk to ensure you are walking fast enough to lose weight. Do this by stopping to check your pulse or by wearing an electronic heart rate monitor.
To keep yourself on track and motivated, set realistic goals to ensure you get out for a brisk walk most days. At the beginning of the week, write down which days you will walk and for how long. Keep a record following each walk of how long and how far you walked. As the pounds peel off, this will also help you notice how much father you can go in the same amount of time than when you began. And if you don’t like walking alone, ask a friend, co-worker or neighbor to join you. Plan several routes to give yourself variety.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.