Walking to lose weight
With so many people still asking ‘Why can’t I lose weight?‘…. and with so many resources available on the market, you would think that question would have been answered by now and people would know what to do to lose weight. We hear it on the news how obesity has now been classified as a disease by the AMA (American Medical Association). Popular TV programs have helped motivate thousands however it still is a struggle for many. It really is very simple when you think about it, the problem in this country is….we love to eat. Let’s face it, we all have our favorites. However, food in itself is not the problem, because we can choose whole food, nutritious food but instead, bad choices are made to our detriment.
Regardless of how much weight you want to lose, start with some basic steps toward achieving your goal. To lose weight, both diet and exercise are important. Being active on a regular basis, just start moving and one of the easiest way to do so is to start walking. Once you’ve been checked out by your local physician for any health issues and he has given you the ‘green light’, then it’s time to get going. Make up your mind to start with the very basics and walking is by far one of the easiest way to lose weight. It doesn’t matter how old you are, walking is beneficial to all ages and fitness levels. Walking is easy, enjoyable and it’s free.
First, you need to ask yourself five basic questions ……where, when, how often, how fast and for how long will you walk? Answering these questions will help motivate you to get started and stick with it.
What do you need to get started?
The most important item on your list is a good, comfortable pair of shoes. Look for lightweight shoes that offer good support. Comfortable clothing is important as well as staying hydrated, so bring water. Depending on where you choose to walk, you may need sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Some may like to bring a small towel to wipe off sweat. Others enjoy using a pedometer which tracks your steps. There’s no need to get expensive items, just regular shorts, pants, leggings and T-shirt will do however many people purchase special ‘work-out‘ attire. If it helps motivate you, fine, but really not necessary. Of course, you should always warm up by gentle stretching beforehand.
Where to walk?
Very popular with many walkers are your local parks with clearly marked paved or mulched paths with beautiful surroundings and fresh air. Or you may choose to walk around your own neighborhood. Some people love to walk at the beach, join a gym and many other purchase a treadmill to use in their own home. Find the most convenient place but also consider your own safety. Always stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Many people walk with a friend or neighbor and many bring their dogs. If you enjoy the location, you are more apt to stick with it. You may also consider walking twice a week at the park and use the treadmill at home the rest of the week. Treadmills are very convenient, regardless of the weather outside, they measure distance, speed and calories burned and they act as a motivator in itself for many people.
When to walk?
Many people choose the early morning hours before work. Early walkers also enjoy having more energy during the rest of the day. Find what is most convenient for you, that way you can keep it up and this will become part of your new routine. After dinner can also be a great time however you should get done with your walk at least two hours before going to bed to give you time to unwind and relax. Some people choose to walk both mornings and evenings so pick the time that best suit your lifestyle. Walking can be enjoyed by the entire family. Children can benefit tremendously by watching parents become more active which can lead to better health for everyone.
How often to walk?
Look at your daily routine and see if you can walk at least 30 minutes every day. Walking every day is best for maintaining a healthy weight however walking every other day can also be sufficient especially if increasing the duration, so instead of walking for 30 minutes, you can walk for 40-45 minutes.
How fast to walk?
Whenever starting a walking program, it’s best to start slowly. You can begin by a moderately slow walk, between 2.5 and 3 mph for about 5 to 8 minutes. If you have no pain, then proceed at a faster pace, a mid-range speed of 3.5 to 3.8 mph is very good. The fastest speed of 4.0 mph is actually fast enough to be turned into a soft jog. The goal is to raise your heart rate and to sweat. Start slowly and increase your speed. You want to sweat but still be able to talk. For some people, just walking at 3 mph will make them sweat quite a bit whereas others it may take a much faster speed to break into a sweat. To maximize calorie burn, you really have to get moving, so faster speed equals more calories burned and more sweating. As an example, a 150 lb person walking at a moderate speed of 3 mph for 30 minutes can expect to burn approximately 120 calories, walking at a brisk pace of 4 mph, about 135 calories burned. A 200 lb person walking at moderate speed for 30 minutes will burn 157 calories, and for 60 minutes will burn 180 calories. So both speed and duration are important to receive maximum benefits from your walks. Just remember to slow down near the end of your walk and cool down a bit. Always stay hydrated.
Losing weight is just one of many benefits of walking. But start today and keep it up. Once you reach your goal, maintain your weight using common sense. Moderation is key. Understanding how long you need to walk to burn off those cookies can help you choose to have just a few instead of the entire box.
Be mindful and make good choices both in food and fitness and you can experience better health and well being. Choose wisely!