For people who have a great deal of weight to lose, it can seem like the best way to shed pounds is to begin an intensive exercise routine off the bat.
However, beginning with workouts that seem unattainable can quickly lead to exhaustion and defeat, and there might be a simpler way to begin kickstarting healthier habits: walking.
A study published in the journal Risk Analysis found that people who regularly walk at a fast pace weighed less than people who spend their time running, swimming and cycling.
In fact, adding just 30 minutes of walking can help you burn an extra 150 calories per day. It’s free, you can do it anywhere, and for people with a lot of weight to lose, it can seem like a manageable option when it comes to a workout.
“Walking is the perfect form of exercise to get started on fitness goals for those who have excess weight to lose,” says fitness expert James Kilgallon. “Not only will you burn calories and boost your metabolism, but you will also be building a good foundation for other activities.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend walking vigorously for five hours each week if you want to lose weight by walking, which can lead to a weight loss of one to two pounds per week—meaning it would take 25 to 50 weeks to safely lose 50 pounds. You can even take your walking up a notch by adding on hand weights or adding more vigorous intervals.
For those beginning their weight-loss routine, it’s best to take the proper steps to optimize your results. This includes speaking with your doctor, getting proper workout gear (including shoes and tops and bottoms with moisture-wicking fabrics), and taking the proper time to rest and manage any aches and pains.
Walking can have a number of benefits in addition to weight loss, including improved mood, increased energy, lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes, and a greater chance of longer life. These factors together can help make exercise even easier, making walking a great place to begin.
Here are some tips to make the most out of your walking workout:
1. Walk At A Fast Pace
Although there’s nothing wrong with a leisurely stroll, it won’t give you the results you want when it comes to shedding pounds. A study from the University of Virginia found that overweight women who alternated between a high-intensity walk/jog and a low-intensity walk lost the most weight compared to women who just walked at a low intensity each week.
2. Walk At Least 4 Times Per Week
Not everyday has to be a high-intensity workout, but at least two days out of the week should include vigorous exercise, and at least two days a week should include a low-intensity walk, according to the CDC. Allow yourself to take rest days, but make sure you are keeping up on your routine.
3. Walk Whenever Possible
Take the stairs, walk to work, or park in the far-away spot to encourage extra movement each day. Even walking just an extra mile a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 82 percent, according to Harvard Health.
4. Eat A Healthy Diet
Walking is great, but it’s not enough to have an impact on its own. Combine your exercise with a healthy diet for better results. In order to lose weight, you must cut down on calories. Harvard Health recommends cutting your calories by 250 a day to help you lose an extra pound per two weeks. This could just mean just ditching that half-cup of ice cream or two sodas.
Need some extra motivation to take a brisk walk? Bring your furry friends with you!