by David Martin, Fitness Coach
If you seem to have trouble starting an exercise program, walking to lose weight can be an easy way to begin. The amount of weight you can lose will depend upon your metabolism, how many calories you take in, and the type of walking you do.
Walking for exercise and weight loss is so easy and natural, it hardly seems like work. That’s the great thing about walking – it can gently transform your health without having to break a sweat!
Experts believe that 10,000 steps a day bring many physical benefits, including lowered blood pressure, a reduced risk of heart disease and less chance of getting certain cancers.
If that still seems daunting, then try breaking it up into smaller parts: three 20-minute walks will achieve the same calorie burn.
Regardless, an hour of of walking burns 300 to 500 calories. Do that for 10 days and you’ll lose a pound. Keep it up for a year and you could lose more than 35 pounds!
Most fitness experts recommend a gradual start to a walking program for exercise and weight loss. Consider your age and level of physical fitness, because the important thing is that you don’t overdo it at first.
Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes, appropriate clothing and a bottle of water. Choose a safe and quiet place to walk: perhaps a side street in your neighborhood, or a nearby public park.
Your initial goal should be to walk thirty minutes a day at a comfortable pace. Try using a pedometer to measure speed and distance, as this will serve as a good calculator of how far you’ve walked and how many calories you’ve burned.
As your fitness level increases, make your walks longer with the eventual goal of walking for an hour, five days a week. Even if you just start walking for just a few minutes a day, the important thing is that you are out of the house doing something.
Instead of walking at one pace, try alternating between fast and slow walking. Research shows this method can increase calorie burn and help you lose weight faster.
Look for hilly streets that will make you breathe a little harder and serve to boost your metabolism. If you are able to maintain a brisk pace, you will burn fat more quickly.
When people ask, “is running better than walking to lose weight?,” they are overlooking the fact that a brisk walk accomplishes almost as much. Eventually, you may want to try running to lose weight, but you can still accomplish your fitness goals by walking.
If you can’t get outside to do your weight loss walking, then walking on a treadmill can be a good way to lose weight. If you listen to music or watch television, you may find that you are able to walk for longer periods.
Set a goal of thirty minutes of walking, and once you are able to do that, try to do it for an hour. Set realistic goals and work toward them at your own pace.
You can find treadmills for walking at your local health club, or if you want to buy a treadmill online there are lots of fitness equipment websites with brands like Trimline, Life Fitness, Proform and sole. Stores selling treadmills include Wal-Mart, Sears, Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Most people who start a walking program find that it is an enjoyable and healthy way to shed pounds and get fit. The key point is to start slowly and build up your fitness level.
The average person walks fewer than 5,000 steps a day when they should be averaging over 10,000. Walking really is the best exercise you can do, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t walk very far at first. Just stick with it, and before you know it you will start to see the pounds come off.
If you don’t want to walk alone, seek out walking groups in your city, or find a walking partner to join you on a daily basis. The most important thing is to get started and stick with it over a period of several months.
People who succeed at losing weight by walking have one thing in common: they have a long-term perspective and don’t get discouraged when the weight doesn’t come off immediately. Instead, they are satisfied with losing a pound or two a week over a period of four to six months. It all adds up, and the final result is well worth the “slow but steady” approach!
(published October 22, 2009)