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Losing weight by walking: is that possible?

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  • Walk more than you are doing now
  • Challenge yourself with speed
  • Make walking your thing
  • Use climbs
  • Don’t let runners discourage you
  • Register for an event
  • Increase your heart rate
  • Ignore these myths about walking

There are two components you need to consider if you want to lose weight: diet and exercise. If you’re not particularly into fitness, you might think that finding a workout plan that works for you can be difficult and daunting. In reality, all you have to do is go for a walk.

If crowded fitness classes and online training programs with strict routines sound like a nightmare, you don’t have to do them. Even if you want to lose weight sustainably. You just have to find something that you enjoy enough to do every day.

This could mean reducing the movement to the essentials. Walking might be one of the most underrated forms of exercise. We do it so often anyway that we probably hardly think of it as exercise — but it is one of the most effective forms of exercise. All you need is a pair of shoes (or not, if that’s your thing) and a place to walk. No special, expensive equipment is required, including no waiting in line at a weight bench during peak gym hours. It’s one of the few exercises you can do virtually anywhere, at any time.

Perhaps unsurprising, but still useful to know, research in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who followed a calorie-restricted diet lost additional fat and saw better insulin levels when they added walking to their routine, compared to people who simply “just” consumed fewer calories.

To really effectively lose weight by walking, you should keep a few things in mind:

Walk more than you are doing now

There is no magic formula for how many steps, miles, or hours you need to walk to lose the desired amount of weight. In the beginning, it’s just about doing more than you’re doing now. “If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, you have to do more,” says US trainer Michele Stanten, founder of MyWalkingCoach.com and author of “The Walking Solution”. “But if you have a desk job, taking a walk every night after dinner can show real results.”

Much has been written about the idea that around 10,000 steps per day should be a starting point for health reasons. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you’ll likely want more once you develop a routine. But you don’t have to start doing 10,000 steps right away. First, find your starting point. “If you only take 3,000 steps on a typical day, don’t try to do 10,000 steps the next day. That can be really daunting. Aim for 5,000 steps a day for one week. Then increase to 7,000 steps the next week,” says the expert.

Challenge yourself with speed

The best way to lose excess weight is to challenge yourself with intervals. So, with periods of faster walking alternating with periods of slower walking. Research has shown that people who are interval walkers, alternating three minutes of fast walking with three minutes of average speed, lose more weight than people who always walk at the same speed. A study of people with type 2 diabetes found that interval walkers not only increased their fitness and controlled their blood sugar better than steady walkers, but their body composition also changed, so they had less belly fat and less body fat.

If you really want to change your body composition, you should also incorporate strength training into your life. Plus: It helps you walk faster, says Stanten. Also remember that healthy stress management, adequate sleep, rest and nutrition also contribute to weight loss.

Make walking your thing

You don’t have to walk for hours every day to lose weight, but it’s important to get into the habit of walking every day. Just make it part of your daily routine — something you do without thinking about it, even if some days you only walk for 10 or 15 minutes.

Ideally, you should complete two to three interval walks or shorter, faster, more intense walks per week, a few hour-long walks. The rest can be short, moderately intense walks. The shorter ones are good to do with your partner, your dog, a friend, or alone to clear your head.

Don’t just see walking as exercise; Do it wherever you can (like parking your car further away from work or home). Climbing stairs is also great, it burns more calories than walking and also helps build leg and glute muscles.

Use climbs

Walking on an incline increases your heart rate and activates your glutes, thighs and calves, explains Tyler Spraul, a certified US strength and conditioning coach and training director for American fitness platform Exercise.com. Depending on the incline, you can achieve similar benefits to running. “A climb is a great way to challenge your cardiovascular system and get the same benefits you get from jogging or running without the same stress on your knees,” says Spraul. “The extra effort burns more calories and, depending on your weight and cardiovascular endurance, may also burn more fat.”

Don’t let runners discourage you

You burn just as many calories walking at 3 mph — “which is doable with training and practice,” Stanten says — as someone jogging at that pace.

Register for an event

“One of the things that motivates people to pursue walking is participating in an event,” says Stanten. Many 5K and 10K races are also suitable for walkers. “Most people don’t know that you can also run a half marathon,” says Stanten. Some races are better suited to this than others. If it’s a local event, check the time limits carefully. If you’re not the event type, you can take your walking experience into nature and explore hiking trails in your area.

Increase your heart rate

Although you don’t have to jog, increasing your walking speed can burn more calories because it increases your heart rate. But don’t worry, you don’t have to sprint. You can achieve good training results by walking at a moderately intense pace. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you achieve moderate-intensity exercise by increasing your heart rate to 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Ignore these myths about walking

Hand weights help you burn more calories: In fact, they only slow you down when walking, negating any benefit of carrying extra weight. “You achieve more by increasing your walking speed,” says Stanten.

To walk faster, take longer steps: Exactly the opposite. To walk faster, you need to shorten your stride and take more steps per minute. “If you put your foot too far in front of you, you put more stress on your knees and hips, and your foot acts like a brake,” says Stanten. To get into the habit of shortening your steps, count how many steps you take per minute (or 30 seconds if your mind wanders quickly) during a speed interval. Then try to take more steps in the next minute than before.

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