Walking for weight loss is good for your body and mind

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                               28 days to feel good.

Walking for weight loss really can work. Fact. Besides the many benefits of regular strolls – upping your daily movement, getting some fresh air and sunlight (brilliant to swerve any vitamin D deficiency symptoms), not to mention the mental health advantages – you can lose weight walking every day, and if healthy weight loss is one of your goals, you’re in the right place.

An average of 2,400 of you Google ‘walking for weight loss tips’ every month. This is a solid indicator that a) confusion surrounding walking for weight loss is common and b) expert support is needed to maximise help you, I and Cathy down the street maximise our daily movement.

Good news then, PT Sam McGowan is on hand to help us debunk everything there is to know about walking for weight loss. Scroll on for your beginner 4-week walking for weight loss plan, as well as all the answers to your walking for weight loss Qs.

Is walking good for weight loss?
For anyone who dreads intense HIIT home workouts, you’ll be pleased to hear they’re not the only option if you’re trying to lose body fat, and walking is a legit option for weight loss.

‘When it comes to walking for weight loss, movement, in general, is great – it’s all about energy balance,’ McGowan explains. In other words, you need to be expending more energy (calories) than you’re taking in. This is known as being in a calorie deficit.

‘Here’s a super simple way of looking at it,’ McGowan says. ‘When we’re trying to lose weight we need to be in a calorie deficit – this means burning more calories than we’re eating.’

Increasing our daily movement (through an activity we can perform for a sustained period, like walking) is a great way to increase daily calorie expenditure.

While any form of exercise will help you increase your daily calorie burn (some potentially in a shorter time), walking for weight loss is an accessible starting point for many people. It doesn’t require more than a very basic level of fitness and strength; it’s low impact and doesn’t necessitate any kit, save for perhaps some good footwear.

Exercise (and walking) isn’t the only strand of healthy weight loss, though and actually, it’s more efficient (and accurate) to create a calorie deficit through your nutrition.

How to eat if you’re walking for weight loss
Fortunately, we’ve got a veritable treasure trove of handy guides to help you lose weight by walking. The list starts with beginner-friendly help, progressing to more advanced. If you’re brand new to walking for weight loss, stick with steps 1 and 2.

This is how many calories to eat a day if you want to lose weight
Learn about everything about calorie deficits and how to stay in one
Here’s everything you need to know about losing body fat
For non-beginners, consider counting and calculating your macros
If you’ve done step four, here are the best macros for fat loss
So, to answer the question ‘can you lose weight just by walking?’ Absolutely. You just need to dial in your nutrition, too.

8 benefits of walking for weight loss
It’s free
It’s low-impact
It can be done anywhere
You can do it in a group or solo
It increases brainpower, according to a New Mexico Highlands University study
It improves heart health, (think lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes) as much as running, according to the American Heart Association
It’s good for your mind. Walking in nature has been linked to improved mental health by the University of Michigan Health System
It decreases the risk of illness (stroke, coronary heart disease, depression and other life-threatening conditions), as per this University of East Anglia

6 walking for weight loss tips
Does walking help you lose weight? Yes, but before you chuck on your kicks and head for the park, there are some need to knows, to avoid putting yourself at risk of injury. Because, whilst it might be a low-impact activity, you still need to do it right.

1. Walk tall
Lift your torso up and out of your hips and sense your body ‘lengthening’. This will prevent you from lapsing into a slouch and ‘walking heavy’, which could hinder the way walking for weight loss works.

‘Good posture allows you to take full breaths and fully engage your core muscles, as well as your legs and glutes to achieve a better, more powerful stride,’ says David Wiener, training specialist at fitness app Freeletics.

2. Look up
Your head weighs around 4.5kg, so don’t drag yourself down by staring at the ground on your walking for weight loss quest. Cast your gaze forward, so your head is balanced on your neck and spine.

3. Take smaller steps
By keeping your body upright, you will be able to land with your feet directly underneath your body rather – this will help you to walk lightly.

‘Overstriding can be the cause of injuries so make sure the steps you take aren’t too big which can add additional pressure to your joints, and hinder your walking for weight loss progress,’ Wiener explains.

4. Use your arms
Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees, your wrists and hands neither floppy nor rigid and move your arms backwards and forwards slightly across your body.

‘A strong-arm motion can burn 5-10% more calories and add speed, which will again increase calorie burn,’ says Wiener. It’s a handy hack to walking for weight loss, and one that people often let slip.

5. Use control
Take time to practise walking slower than you would normally, so you can be conscious of whether your footfall is light or heavy, whether your head feels poised on your neck and spine, and whether you can sense unnecessary tension in your arms, shoulders and back. This will all help your walking for weight loss advancement.

6. Nail your foot-strike technique

‘Strike the ground heel first and roll through the step from the heel to the toe, pushing back off with your toe before striking the ground again heel first,’ Wiener says. Again, this one will help prevent any injuries that could stop you achieving your walking for weight loss goal.

4-week walking for weight-loss plan
McGowan designed this plan particularly for beginners who want to lose weight by walking. That said, even if you’re just looking to get your daily steps up, stick around – this plan is an effective way to help you build walking stamina. Plus, it helps to have a plan if you’re aiming for a higher step count.

Fun fact: 10k steps will require about 1 hour and 45 min of walking, McGowan says, but you can lose weight with 30-minute walks, so long as you do them regularly.

The best bit about this plan is that you don’t need to worry about how much walking to do to lose weight, McGowan has it sussed. So, scroll on and get ready for your month of walking more and feeling great!

 

Week 1
Monday: 3 x 10-min walks, easy pace
Tuesday: 30-min walk, brisk
Wednesday: 30-min walk, easy pace + strength workout
Thursday: 30-min walk, easy pace + strength workout
Friday: 30-min walk, brisk + workout of your choice
Saturday: 2 x 30-min walks, easy pace
Sunday: 60-min walk, brisk

Week 2
Monday: 3 x 20-min walks, easy pace
Tuesday: 30-min walk, brisk + 1 x 15-min walk, easy pace
Wednesday: 35-min walk, easy pace + strength workout
Thursday: 35-min walk, easy pace + strength workout
Friday: 30-min walk, brisk + workout of your choice
Saturday: 2 x 40-min walks, easy pace
Sunday: 75-min walk, brisk

Week 3
Monday: 4 x 15-min walks, easy pace
Tuesday: 30-min walk, brisk + 1 x 30-min walk, easy pace
Wednesday: 40-min walk, easy pace + strength workout
Thursday: 40-min walk, easy pace + strength workout
Friday: 30-min walk, brisk + workout of your choice
Saturday: 2 x 45-min walks, easy pace
Sunday: 90-min walk, brisk

Week 4
Monday: 4 x 20-min walks, easy pace
Tuesday: 40-min walk, brisk + 1 x 30-min walk, easy pace
Wednesday: 2 x 30-min walks, brisk + strength workout
Thursday: 2 x 30-min walks, brisk + strength workout
Friday: 30-min walk, brisk + workout of your choice
Saturday: 2 x 60-min walks, easy pace
Sunday: 105-min walk, brisk

 

Do I need to do other workouts alongside walking for weight loss?
That depends – how soon do you want to hit your goals? Every little bit of movement helps. Resistance training also has the added benefits of increasing your muscle mass (meaning you’ll burn more calories at rest), and helping build stronger bones and joints.

If walking is all you’re after right now, no problem. Feel free to skip those recommendations. Instead, try to keep your daily movement up during the day (take regular breaks to stretch your legs, walk while on the phone, work standing up… you know the drill).

If you do want to tack on additional sessions, these can be anything from 20 – 45 minutes long. Not sure where to start? Allow us…

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