Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution, preparation for your summer holidays, or even Doctor’s orders; Most of us decide we want to lose a few pounds or tone up those troublesome areas at some time in our lives.
If you are anything like me, you will start strong going to the gym several times per week, maybe even going for a run here and there, but eventually, the challenge of our everyday lives makes us too tired or just too busy… we miss one or two sessions and our resolve breaks. I’ll just wear a T-Shirt at the beach… at least then I won’t get Sunburn.
Well, the great news is, I am here to show you how a walking workout to lose weight can be more effective than running if you know what you are doing.
How do I know about the amazing weight loss potential of walking? Well, in the first 2 months of 2019, I lost around 5kg by trying to get a few more footsteps in every day… However, I also visited a friend in Dublin and had an all-inclusive vacation in Morocco so I was not eating or drinking like a man trying to lose weight. However, over the course of the next 3 months, I lost 23kg. Although I did limit my alcohol intake to 1 evening per week, I did not count calories or intentionally adjust my diet… in fact, sometimes I ate more because I had used so much energy walking.
In 5 months I had gone from being Obese to my target weight just by learning how to utilize walking and I am going to share everything from mindset and preparation to helpful equipment and products, as well as a suggested routine so you can also walk your way to weight loss.
Walking to Lose Weight is Actually Walking to Be Healthier
Walking is something most of us do every day and this is one of the reasons, our fitness goals are can be way more attainable through walking workouts than by other fitness methods.
Just remember, people can be beautiful at any weight and although losing weight is a widely accepted target, our weight can be affected by several other factors (including improving muscular strength, how well hydrated you are, and bone health) and can, therefore be a dangerous demotivator if we put too much importance on it.
Try to focus on how you feel first and foremost, are your energy levels higher, can you breath better, do your clothes feel better on you. You should see more consistent results this way and your feeling of confidence will increase and believe me, the people around you will respond better to your confidence than your figure.
You can use more physical targets such as measuring your waist, arms, hips, and thighs. You are likely to see results here, even at times when your actual weight might not be showing the results you want.
It is often suggested to monitor weight weekly or even only monthly, however, If you do choose to keep your weight as a daily metric, try to weigh yourself twice per day at the same time every day and take an average to plot on a chart. It may go up and down from time to time but over time you should see a downward trend showing the success of your walking workouts
Make Your Walking Workouts Work For You
Walking is easy and once we learn how it can help us with weight loss, it can be tempting to walk everywhere as fast as we can. As you get used to raising your walking game, you will learn about your muscles and about your schedules so it is important you try to plan ahead. Don’t incorporate walking to work into your workout until you know how long it takes you to walk that route.
As you workout or “walkout,” more, it feels more casual and enjoyable every day and is therefore not uncommon that people underestimate the impact it can have on the muscles. Although recovery from your walking workout is unlikely to be too painful, if you have an upcoming engagement that requires you to be on your feet all day, you may want to keep your walks light for a few days prior. This will serve you in the long run as you will recover quicker and can resume your weight loss and fitness goals.
Map Your Workout Progress as well as Your Walks
When you have to travel somewhere, whether you are walking or driving, if you are unsure of the route, you look at a map to identify where you are going so you can plot a route. However, you also need to know where you are and it is no different when you are raising your walking game.
I will provide you suggestions on how to work up your walking to a weight loss workout whatever level you are currently so it is worth spending a week or so carrying on as normal documenting your distance, the number of footsteps, walking time, incline, etc.
The easiest way to log your progress is with a SmartWatch such as Apple’s iWatch series, or a specialist sports watch like the Garmin Vivoactive 3. Both of these options track everything about your walking workout including your movement, heart rate, incline, and even calorie burn rate in real-time and give you usable data insights about your weight loss journey on your phone. Head on over to my article about the best ways to count your steps for more information.
If you don’t have and do not wish to purchase one of these devices, most smartphones have compatible applications that can track at least your footsteps and travel route so you will be able to capture your walking data.
Even if you do not have a Smartwatch or phone app, you can walk the same routes you usually walk and add-in a new level of difficulty like an extra walk around the block, walk up the hill a few times or take a longer route to the shop.
So if in this metaphor forty thousand footsteps in a day will be your destination, then mapping tracking yourself for a week will give you your current location leaving you only to plot your route.
The way we plot our metaphorical routes is by understanding our options of getting from our location to our target destination and you can do this by also monitoring opportunities to tweak our usual daily routine.
Walking to work instead of taking the car, walking up the escalators, taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking across uneven terrain instead of flatland, etc. You now have some great options to raise your walking game within your current schedule.
Walking to Lose Weight is About Progress Over Perfection
Your body is a wonderful thing and a niggling pain in one of your muscles is your body’s way of asking you to slow down and let your muscles recover from your workouts. Whether you want to walk 10000 footsteps every day consistently, or you would like to walk a marathon, it’s important you work up to it and listen to your body.
It is possible to miss a few days because of the rain, due to overworked muscles, or even just your daily grind. It is important we remind ourselves what we are trying to achieve, and that how far we have come is an achievement in itself so we need to get back out there.
If you haven’t walked for 2 weeks, it is easy to say “oh well, I failed” and give up. Just remember, failure is optional. If you set yourself a goal to get back on track then that 2 weeks becomes insignificant.
How to Optimize Your Walk – Increase Your Steps
You now know that if you plan ahead and track your progress, you can increase the levels of your workout and significantly raise your walking game. You can increase your number of footsteps and/or distance covered by
- Walking to your destination instead of driving – Depending on the distance, how much you need to carry, and even the weather, something as simple as leaving the car at home might provide the opportunity to increase your walking and decrease your weight.
- One more walk around the park when walking the dog – If you walk the dog every day, you may not even notice the extra effort and your companion will probably be happy with their own workout.
- Walking on the spot while watching TV – This was a well-recieved piece of advice during the lockdown when it was not as easy getting my 10000 steps in. Before long it feels more like watching TV than working out.
- Partner up with another walking enthusiast – You can hold each other accountable, you have company on your walks and it’s always nice to have someone to share your workout successes with.
- Find walking locations you love – Maybe you have a favorite park or canal to walk along, or maybe it’s a long walk to your favorite pub (everything in moderation)
- One dedicated long-distance walking workout per week – Especially if the weather is nice, make it a weekly event to look forward to. You should be aiming to do your most challenging walk on this trip.
Feeling confident? you should be. Anyone can raise their walking game and see results using the methods listed above, but now to really hack those walks, maximize your workout and lose the weight you set out to lose.
Traditionally, walking is like running, it is classed as aerobic and burns calories as we exercise, so as long as we are walking more every day and we don’t increase our calorie intake we will lose weight. If we were only considering aerobic exercises, running would be far more effective than walking. However, to really optimize your walk, you should be looking to add an anaerobic element to your workout. anaerobic walking can be more effective than aerobic running and the two best ways to increase the anaerobic activity in your workout are by periodically increasing the speed of your walk and by adding more incline.
How to Optimize Your Walk – Pick Up The Pace
Increasing the speed can be as simple as power walking 100 meters 10 times with 15-second intervals. As you get used to this you can increase the distance of your powerwalks or increase the number of times you powerwalk, I recommend increasing both overtime to really supercharge your workouts.
How to Optimize Your Walk – Incline Workout
Last but by no means least, incline. Increasing the incline in your walking workout has the additional benefit of making your legs work harder which will give your muscles more strength and muscles require caloric energy to function. This means, even when you’re resting, your body will be burning more calories than it did before you raised your walking game.
You do not have to look too far for opportunities to add some incline to your walking workout.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator – This is great for increasing your total number of steps as well as working your leg muscles
- Walk up the escalators – For you city folk who spend time standing still waiting for the top to come to you.
- Running up and down the stairs at home – Or the supermarket, or the park, or under the Rocky statue in Philadelphia (health & safety permitting of course)
- Make your walk into a hike – If you are lucky enough to be able to get to the countryside, there are 1000s of walking trails all over the world so wherever you are, consider this a beautiful and healthy walking workout weight loss option.
Eat Right – Lose Weight
This article is about walking to lose weight, not about cutting calories. Being healthy is about more than losing weight. Walking is an effective workout because it burns calories, so it is important that you give your body enough calories to burn. It may be fine to start out without increasing your food intake but as you walk further and your muscles get stronger, you are likely to find yourself getting hungrier more often. I already mentioned that your body is wonderful and you should listen to it so if you are hungry, eat. If you do not eat enough, your body may decide to slow your metabolism down to make the most of the energy it has available. If you do not drink enough water, your body may start to retain what liquids it has and hinder your weight loss even with the increased activity.
If you know you are going to be walking, drink plenty of water, increase your intake of carbohydrates and take some carb-rich snacks such as fruit. Oranges and bananas are my favorite. If you are walking a long distance, it is also a good idea to have snacks that are rich in good fats such as nuts. Take more than you need and if you are not hungry, don’t eat it.
Once you are finished exercising for the day, it is important to replace the carbs you have used and eat some protein so the body can repair your muscles.
Don’t overthink this, you could start by continuing with your regular diet, and then as you increase your walking workout efforts, add in protein supplements or extra healthy snacks as appropriate.
What Are You Waiting For – Get To Stepping
I hope you have found the information in this article helpful so you can raise your walking game, meet your workout targets and lose weight the right way. If you have any thoughts or questions regarding this article, please feel free to leave me a comment below.
I am not a medical professional so if you have any physical or dietary issues, please consult your doctor before making changes to your lifestyle.
Thanks for reading.
Author of Forty Thousand Footsteps