Today I am excited to be teaming up with Chris Freytag from GetHealthyU to share some of her expertise on getting in shape!
Walking is a form of exercise that pretty much everyone can do! And, as every FitBit enthusiast knows, the healthy benchmark that has been ingrained in our heads is 10,000 steps a day. Easy enough, right? Well, I’m absolutely a supporter of everyone getting in as many steps as possible, but when it comes to walking for weight loss, you need to consider the intensity and consistency of your walking routines. I want you to pick up your effort and explore how to boost your walking workouts for weight loss. By understanding how hard you are working and finding ways to fit it in your daily life, weight loss is in your horizon!
The Benefits of Walking
Let’s start by taking a look at what walking has to offer as a form of exercise. Find any doctor or weight loss expert and you’re going to hear the advice that walking is chalk-full of benefits beyond calorie burn. The Mayo Clinic reports that regular walking will also:
- lower blood pressure
- lower the risk of heart disease
- lower the risk of diabetes
- strengthen your bones and muscles
- reduce the chances of risk of breast cancer
- improve your mood
- increase energy levels
Aside from the health benefits, walking offers practical benefits as well:
- It’s Low Impact: Less face it, running and other high impact activities can be hard on your body. At some point, whether early or later in life, most people find the need to stick with low impact exercise because it is easy on the joints; especially knees, hips and back.
- No Equipment Necessary: Okay, a good pair of shoes is a must—but you need those anyway. Walking requires nothing else! You may choose to add a pair of headphones for entertainment. You might decide to pick up a pair of weights to boost your walking with strength training. Some people even go so far as to walk with poles. But at its essence, walking doesn’t require anything more than desire.
- Cost Free: No gym membership dues required. Step outside and go anywhere. If the weather is bad, walk laps around a mall or through your office hallways. If that doesn’t work, you can certainly take a lot of steps in your home no matter how small your space is. Walk in place while you watch the news. Dividing one big basket of laundry into three separate piles you carry up and down the stairs might just help get the job done! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! More ideas on this later.
However, here is the clincher for those who are looking to lose weight by walking: adding intensity to your walking routine is the secret sauce. Since so many people don’t have time for leisurely two hour walks everyday (that would be nice!) then making the most of the time you have is key. And how do you do that? You to lose weight.
I’m not saying stop the constant flow of steps (yes it’s still a good feeling to get in 10,000 steps a day.) But try to add some intensity walks to your week to increase your caloric burn for weight loss. By either wearing a heart rate monitor or paying attention to your perceived exertion, you can up your calorie burn, improve your lung capacity, and absolutely take off some pounds.
That’s why I’ve created three high intensity walking routines that you can do indoors or outdoors depending on the time of year and your lifestyle. These walking workouts are going to challenge you to work a little harder than most walks where you may be zoning out in front of your TV or calmly walking the dog.These are 20-minute routines to take your heart rate up and increase your calorie burn.
So how hard should you be working? I want you to get into your “comfortably hard” zone. That is where you are no longer breathing through your nose, but now you are breathing through your mouth. You can talk a sentence or two in a row but then need to take a breath. By taking the intensity up to this zone, you will get more bang for your buck. In today’s day and age of “I don’t have time” as the number one excuse for skipping exercise, my advice will always be go harder when you can!
Of course eating healthy is at least 50% of this equation.You can’t out train a bad diet, period. But if you have that under control, then using my tips to and keeping a consistent routine over the course of time will lead to long lasting weight loss.
The average 150-pound person will burn around 200 activity calories during these 20-minute intensity walks. Eat a few hundred less calories a day and you can see the pounds start to peel off. (Science tells us that you need to burn an extra 3500 calories to lose one pound. Yet, keep in mind that that is simplified. It also matters what type of calories you are eating and the quality of your sleep.)
Good Walking Form
I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss form. Is there a “right” way to walk? Yes. Even walking, in all of its low-impact glory, can cause problems if you don’t do it properly. Be sure to consider the following recommendations:
- Wear the right shoes. Yes, you can wear running shoes for walking. However, if you are a serious walker and put in a lot of miles, you might want to consider walking shoes and here’s why: walking shoes are specifically designed to help propel you through the heel-toe motion of the proper walking technique. While runners land flat-footed, walkers land on their heels. So the heels of walking shoes are often beveled to increase stability. And that stability is equally important when you roll your foot forward and push off with your toe.
- Stride Right. Take short, natural strides and pump your arms. This not only gives you those extra steps, but encourages a more natural motion for your hip joints.
- Use your Core. Be sure to keep your core pulled in to protect your lower back. Think of how you draw your low belly in when you zip up a pair of tight jeans. That’s the feeling you want to create.
- Posture Matters. Ever told as a kid to “stand up straight”? Same thing here. Keep your shoulders back and chest lifted to prevent poor posture and help promote good spinal alignment. Walk with confidence. This will encourage a faster, more powerful stride.
A Few Other Tips To Get Started
If you are new to walking, easing your way into this new lifestyle will keep your body injury-free and ensure your longevity with a routine. Here are some ideas.
- Ease into it. Try one of these intensity walks and see what your body feels like tomorrow. If you need to take a few days rest, do so and then try another. If you overdo it, you will feel sore and less motivated. Listen to your body and slowly add more intensity into your week.
- Stretch. Walking is going to tighten muscles, especially those in your lower legs and feet. It is crucial that you stretch these areas or risk plantar fasciitis, or shin splints. After your walk, take a good 5 + minutes to stretch your legs and glutes.
- Keep a journal. It’s always helpful to write down what you do each day. Looking back and seeing the progress you’ve made will help motivate you on days when you’re feeling uninspired to get your steps in.
Try to add any combination of these intensity walks to your routine 3-5 times a week and intensify your weight loss routine!