Exercise is an important part of weight loss. In fact, it's difficult to lose weight or maintain weight loss without physical activity. Even though walking isn't consider a high-intensity exercise, it's a great activity to add to your daily routine to help increase your overall calorie burn and improve your fitness levels. If you just add 30 minutes of walking daily, you can burn up to 150 extra calories daily. Plus, walking is a lower intensity exercise that's suitable for most people unlike running or jogging. Add in regular walking to your exercise routine to help you lose weight.
Part One of Four:
Walking to Support Weight Loss
1Walk with correct form. Like most exercises, there's correct form to walking. Even though it's a low-intensity exercise, if you have incorrect form, you may increase your risk of soreness and injury.
- When you're walking, keep your shoulders back, down and relaxed. Your head should be up and facing straight ahead.
- Step forward, leading with your heel. Always aim to walk from heel to toe. As you rock forward in your step, push off with your toes.
- To get your whole body going, swing your arms along with your legs. Swing your arms in opposition to your legs.
2Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of walking most days. Health professionals recommend that you include at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
- Walking for 30 minutes five days a week can help you reach the goal of 150 minutes or about 2 1/2 hours each week; however, this is just enough to maintain your weight.
- Most health professionals recommend to increase your time to 45 minutes of walking most days. The increased time helps you burn more calories per walk.
- If 45 minutes is too long for you initially, start with 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Working your way up to 30 or 45 minutes over time is a great way to start.
3Slowly increase your pace. In addition to increasing your total time spent walking, work yourself up to a faster pace. A higher intensity can help you reach your weight goals faster.
- Studies have shown that shorter, high-intensity walks can help burn more fat than longer, slower walks. Specifically, power walks burn more belly fat (especially in women).
- Work up to a high intensity or power walk. This is about a 4 mph walk if you're tracking it or using a treadmill. Power walks can burn up to 550 calories, depending on the person's age, weight, fitness level, and gender.
4Gauge your walking intensity. If you've been walking for a few weeks and are interested in increasing your intensity and overall calorie burn, you'll need to gauge your current level of intensity and figure out how to increase it.
- If you're working out at a moderate intensity, you can talk and have a conversation with someone, but you're not completely out of breath. If you're working at a moderately high to high intensity, you're very out of breath and can only say short sentences without stopping for a breath.
- In addition to just walking faster or increasing your pace, there are other ways that you can increase the intensity of your walking or increase the calorie burn.
- You can try: walking uphill or taking a stroller with you (if you have one). You can also try carrying ankle or hand weights in a well-fitted backpack, wearing them for brief one to two minute intervals, and then carrying them in the backpack again. Wearing ankle or wrist weights for 20 minutes or longer can lead to injury and/or joint problems in the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders, so only wear them for a short period of time if you choose to use them in your workout.
5Include one to two rest days each week. Including regular rest days is important for anyone doing any type of regular exercise. This helps your body rest and recover appropriately.
- If you overdo exercise of any type you can increase your risk of injury, soreness and even "exercise burnout."
- Every few days, take a day off of your typical exercise routine. For example, exercise for two days, then take a day off.
- On your rest days, still try to be active. Instead of walking, maybe you do a stretching routine or do a restorative yoga practice.
Part Two of Four:
Staying Motivated With Walking
1Join a walking group. Although many people find walking very enjoyable, it still may be hard to stay motivated over long periods of time. Joining a walking group is a fun way to stay motivated.
- You can find walking groups online, at your local gym or even at your work or church. These are groups that get together on a regular basis and walk together. They usually are divided into groups of people of the same fitness level as well.
- Studies have shown that you're more likely to stick with a workout program when you're doing it with friends or others.
- If you can't find a walking group to join, start one yourself. Get your friends, family or co-workers to go for a walk with you. For example, develop a lunchtime walkers group at work.
2Purchase a pedometer and join fitness apps. Another fun way to keep yourself motivated is by purchasing a pedometer, downloading a walking app or joining an online fitness program.
- Pedometers, are very popular and come in many different forms — from those found on smartphones, to clip-on styles, to watches. Studies have shown these step counters motivate people and bring out their competitive side. Many people enjoy trying to beat their daily goals or beating their friends who are also measuring their steps.
- Another way to track your steps and make walking fun is by joining an online fitness program. Many of these are compatible with pedometers and show your progress against others that you "follow" or are "friends" with. It's fun to get competitive with others to see who gets the most steps or walks the farthest each day.
3Vary your routine. Although walking can be relaxing and very enjoyable, it can get boring over time. Try to avoid getting bored by keeping your routine fresh.
- If you typically walk on the treadmill, consider doing some walking outside. You can enjoy the fresh air, scenery and being out in nature. Or perhaps on the weekends you go for a walk or hike in a local park.
- Another way to make each walk more interesting is by downloading good music or podcasts or audiobooks. This can keep you focused, motivated and interested in your walk without worrying where you are. Have a variety of things to listen to while you walk.
4Set up rewards for yourself. Regardless of what type of exercise you're doing or your overall health goals, setting up rewards for yourself is a great motivator to stay on track.
- Rewarding yourself along the way to your weight and fitness goals has been shown to be a great motivator to keep you on track.
- Reward yourself for sticking with your walking program for a certain amount of time, for losing the first 10 pounds or walking a certain distance.
- Don't use food as a reward when you're trying to lose weight. Stick to non-food rewards like: buying a new pair of walking shoes, purchasing some new exercise clothes, or downloading new music.
Part Three of Four:
Making Diet Changes to Support Weight Loss
1Cut out a few calories from your diet. Although adding regular walks or even power walks to your weekly routine can help support weight loss, modifying your diet is another important part of weight loss.
- An easy way to help speed up weight loss is by cutting out calories from your day. Restricting your intake by about 500 calories each day can result in about a 1–2 pound weight loss each week alone.
- To get started, begin by keeping a food journal of a typical day of eating. Note all of the meals, snacks and beverages that you normally consume. Use an online food calorie counter to get an estimate of how many calories you eat on a regular day.
- Subtract 500 calories from this number and set yourself a new goal. Following this can help you lose weight as well.
2Go for lean protein sources. When you're watching calories and your waistline, it's important to choose foods that will help support your weight loss efforts.
- Lean protein is naturally lower in calories and will help support your weight loss. Include a 3–4 oz (21–28g) serving of lean protein at each meal to help meet your daily goals.
- Lean protein sources to include: poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy, lean beef, tofu, legumes, pork and seafood.
3Fill up on fruits and vegetables. Like leaner cuts of protein, fruits and vegetables are low calories and can help you lose weight and stick to a lower calorie diet.
- Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories; however, they're also very high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- These foods help keep you feeling more full (with fewer calories) by adding some bulk to your meals.
- In addition to having a source of lean protein at each meal, make sure you include one to two servings of fruits and vegetables. Measure out 1 cup (150 g) of vegetables, 2 cups (50 g) of leafy salad greens or 1/2 cup (75 g) of fruit.
4Choose whole grains. Another food group that can help keep you feeling satisfied on a lower calorie diet is whole grains.
- Whole grains are minimally processed and are higher in fiber, protein and other essential nutrients. Like fruits and vegetables, these foods can add bulk to your meals with fewer calories.
- Limit your intake of refined grains like white rice, white bread or plain pasta. Instead, serve yourself (one to two servings per day) 1 oz or 1/2 cup (28 g) of whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat bread.
5Monitor your intake of processed and junk foods. While there are some foods and food groups that you should focus on while trying to lose weight, there are other foods that you should limit. Processed foods and junk foods, although tasty, can inhibit weight loss when eaten regularly.
- Processed foods are typically higher in calories, fat, sugar and sodium compared to more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains or lean proteins.
- Limit foods like: fast foods, fried foods, candy, cookies, cakes/pies, pastries, sugary cereals, processed meats, frozen TV dinners, canned meals and sweetened beverages.
- If you do have these foods, have a small portion and only eat them occasionally. If you eat these foods daily, it'll be difficult to lose weight regardless of how much you walk.
Part Four of Four:
Planning to Lose Weight
1Talk to your doctor. Whenever you're trying to lose weight, you should talk to your doctor first. This is especially true if you're going to be using physical activity as a main method to lose weight.
- Talk to your doctor about whether or not weight loss is safe and appropriate for you. Also talk to them about your weight loss goals and methods.
- Ask your doctor if physical activity, specifically walking, is safe and appropriate for you. Also ask if there is anything you should be aware of or if they have any guidance for you.
- If you notice difficulty breathing while exercising, discontinue immediately and talk to your doctor.
2Determine a healthy weight for you. Part of starting a weight loss plan is determining what a healthy weight is for you. This will help you decide what type of weight loss plan to follow and how long you'll need to follow it.
- One way to figure out an appropriate weight is by . You can use an online calculator to figure this out — type "calculate ideal body weight" into a search engine and you should find many options for calculating a healthy weight range for your age, gender, and height.
- Subtracting your ideal body weight from your current weight can help you decide how much excess weight you have.
- Another way to determine ideal weight is by determining your BMI. Determine what weight you should be to fall into a healthy BMI range.
3Set a weight loss goal and timeline. After you've decided how much weight you want or need to lose (and you've spoken to your doctor about it), set up a weight loss goal and timeline for yourself.
- A combination of walking and diet should allow you to lose about 1–2 pounds per week. This is a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss to aim for.
- Mark a calendar of when you're going to begin walking and dieting. Accounting for a 1–2 pound weight loss each week, calculate how long it'll take you to lose your desired amount of weight.
4Build a support group. Regardless of what weight loss plan you want to follow or how you're planning on losing weight, building a support group is an important part of getting ready to lose weight.
- Studies have shown that you're more likely to stick with your diet and maintain weight loss long-term if you have a support group.
- Your support group can be anyone — family, friends or co-workers. Ask them to support you as you attempt to lose weight.
- Another idea is to get your support group to jump on board with your walking plan. It's fun and easy to walk and many others might want to join you.
- Talk to your doctor to make sure regular walking is safe and appropriate for you.
- The best method for weight loss is a combination of both physical activity and diet.
- Exercise does support weight loss, but is even more important for long-term weight maintenance.
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