Walking to Lose Weight – What You Need to Know

WalkingWalking is one of the best exercises you can do to lose weight.

It is a low impact exercise that burns calories, is inexpensive and you can do it almost anywhere without any fancy equipment.

Studies have also shown that walking can also decrease your risk of getting heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and stroke.

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I know you’re excited but slow down a sec…

Before you start throwing on a pair of shoes and walking out your front door this very instant, as with all exercises, here are some factors you have to consider first before you start:

  • Have you been inactive or leading a sedentary lifestyle for more than a year?
  • Are you above 65 years old?
  • Do you have a medical condition like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes?
  • Do you feel chest pains while exerting yourself?
  • Have you ever felt faint or maybe have dizzy spells?

If any of the above applies to you, or even if it doesn’t but as a precaution, please consult a doctor before you start a walking and/or any exercise program.

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And what do I need again…

The beauty of walking is that you do not need any fancy equipment. If your climate allows it, a simple T-shirt, shorts and shoes are all you’ll need.

If where you’re living is a little cooler, you can consider layering your clothes so you can remove them a piece at a time when you get warmer during your walk. Depending on where you are, try layering with T-shirts, a thin sweater and/or a windproof jacket.

You should get a good pair of quality running shoes and your socks should be made of modern high tech fibers (like CoolMax) as compared to cotton. Cotton socks may not keep your feet dry enough and should therefore be avoided as they may give you blisters.

If you’re walking outdoors in the day time, sun and UV protection is essential. A cap or hat, sunglasses and sunscreen will be excellent to have on hand.

Try to pack as light as possible and keys and other small articles can be stored in a ‘fanny pack’ or waist pouch.

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Let’s start walking then…

Once you’re all set, let’s start!

Warm up your body first by walking slowly for about 5 – 10 minutes followed by some stretching, focusing on the quadriceps (thighs) and the calves.

Once you’re warmed up, start walking at a pace where your breathing becomes a little heavier but where you’re still able to carry on a conversation. Aim for about 50 – 70% of your maximum heart rate. Or picture this – try walking as though you’re 10 minutes late for a meeting.

Shoot for 30 – 60 minutes of walking at this pace.

Of course, if you haven’t been exercising for a while, try walking a little slower or walking for a shorter amount of time. The main thing is to get your body moving. Once you’re get fitter, you can always walk faster and try for longer distances.

Try walking 3 – 5 times a week, aiming for at least 5 hours of ‘walk time’ a week.

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So how many calories can I burn?

This may be subjective as it depends on your bodyweight and the speed at which you are walking, but as a general rule of thumb, a 180 pound person will burn about 100 calories per mile walked.

Another approximation will be that walking at a speed of 2 miles/hour for 10 minutes burns about 26 calories and an average person who walks for 30 minutes burns about 79 calories. Even better, just walking a little faster at 3 miles/hour bumps the calories burnt to about 125 calories for a 30 minute walk.

Once you can walk about a mile in 15 minutes, you should be burning about 370 calories if you kept at the same pace for an hour.

Try not to get too enthusiastic about the above numbers and rush into a brisk walking program though. For beginners or for those of you who are sedentary, many fitness experts recommend that you start a walking program slowly and increase speed and distance only when you get more comfortable.

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Don’t forget the diet…

Although walking is an excellent exercise to lose weight effectively, it is best to combine it with a solid and nutritious eating plan.

This means to try and eat only natural, unprocessed foods split into 5 – 6 small meals a day, while avoiding refined carbohydrates (like bread, pasta and rice) and sugar.

If you can follow the above guidelines, you’ll be losing weight with walking (and a solid diet plan) in no time!

Good luck and enjoy your walks!

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