Walking is an ideal exercise for weight loss. It’s safe, accessible, free – and you can start right away! But how much should you walk a day to lose weight?
Before working out how much you should walk to lose weight, it’s a good idea to look at how you walk. Although any light activity is beneficial for your health, a gentle stroll round the block is not going to have the same impact as purposeful walking for weight loss. What does this mean in practice? Well, you need to be walking at a pace that allows you to maintain a conversation without panting, but which increases your breathing and heart rate in order to produce cardiovascular benefit. You should note a tension in your calf muscles when you finish your walk and definitely be significantly warmer than when you started! For most people, this optimum walking pace is that at which you would complete four miles if you walked for one hour.
Once you’ve got the technique sorted, it’s time to get walking for weight loss! If you’re just starting out on a diet and exercise program, respect your body’s signals and start with a gentle introduction. For some this may be initially ten minutes a day – that’s fine but aim to maintain a moderate pace throughout. Ideally, you want to build up to at least 30 minutes on most days of the week, and for maximum fat-burning potential, between 30-90 minutes. If this sounds like a lot – stop! Reframe. Can you build walking into your daily lifestyle? You don’t have to dedicate an hour to specific exercise in the park if you could walk to and from work for example.
Of course, the exact amount of weight you can lose from walking will vary from person to person, depending on starting weight and body fat / muscle proportions. However, as an average rule of thumb, walking as described above should burn around 100 calories per mile, or per 15 minutes at ideal pace. Now, as a pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories, to burn a pound of body fat you need to walk five miles per day, every day of the week. Weight loss – it’s math class all over again!
So, there you have it - time to get walking! Now, where did I leave those gym shoes…?
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