Walking for Weight Loss
Beginning a weight loss plan might seem like a daunting task, but exercise can make progress quicker and easier. And while fast weight loss might seem out of reach, exercise will certainly make it happen quicker. Almost anyone can walk with a decent pair of shoes, and the best part is that it can be done inside or outside, while it is easy to fit into just about any schedule.
Benefits of Walking
The benefits of walking range from improved mental health, improved fitness and reducing risk of certain cancers. If you are following a healthy diet for weight loss or better health, you will see benefits of your diet and exercise increase, and it doesn’t cost anything. The following are some of other, many wonderful health benefits of walking as part of your weight loss plan.
Walking can be the exercise you need to get and stay fit. That’s because it’s versatile, so if you are not used to exercise, simply begin by taking a 15 to 20-minute walk, three days a week. As your body becomes adapted, intensify your workout by walking faster, climbing hills or wearing a weighted vest. By walking on a regular basis, your body will become more conditioned, so you can walk farther and faster, if you choose.
Anyone who begins a weight loss program often wants quick results. But fast weight loss usually doesn’t happen, which can make dieting more frustrating than it already is. Luckily, walking can be that extra boost to help you burn more calories; and when you burn more calories, you can lose more weight.
Improve Heart Health
Because it is a low-impact exercise, walking has the same health benefits as many other forms of moderate exercise. These benefits include clearing unhealthy cholesterol from your body and lowering your blood pressure. And two hours of walking each week can reduce your risk of stroke. On top of all this, according to the American Heart Association, walking can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Walking is a physical activity that improves the health of your entire body, including your bones. Even though it is low-impact, walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise because your legs are supporting your entire weight against gravity. This puts stress on your skeletal system, which, over time, makes you stronger. The key is persistence, as these types of health benefits take a few weeks to realize, but the effects can last a lifetime.
Improved Mental Health
Exercise increases blood flow through all areas of your body, including your brain. In addition, exercise stimulates the manufacture and release of hormones like dopamine and endorphins that elevate mood and ward off depression. Taking a walk outside in a park, the beach or a wooded area can increase the positive mental benefits and help you feel calmer and happier throughout the day.
Tips for Walking for Weight Loss
If you decide to incorporate walking into your weight loss plan, the key is planning. This helps you prepare mentally and can help you remain focused to reach your goals. The following are some tips to help you plan for walking as part of your diet and exercise program.
1. Invest in a good pair of shoes. Good walking shoes can help you avoid injury and leg or foot fatigue. They can also add motivation and help you enjoy walking even more.
2. Invest in clothing if you need it. While it isn’t necessary to have special clothing for walking, it can help keep motivation levels high. Begin with just one or two items, like a moisture-wicking top or cushioned socks and make a plan to reward yourself with a new piece of clothing set at milestone goals. And speaking of goals…
3. Set goals and record them. Many people create their own fitness journals, while some use fitness apps to keep track of short and long-term goals. Recording your goals and keeping them handy so you can have regular access to them is a great way to track your progress and stay motivated.
4. When you are walking, practice good form. Not only does good form help you avoid injury, but good posture can improve confidence and help stimulate and strengthen the right muscles. When you feel the muscles working, it is easier to focus on them and create the mind-muscle connection. Bodybuilders use this focus to get better results in a shorter time, and you can too.
5. Warm up and cool down during your walk. The warm-up stimulates blood flow and helps lengthen and stretch your muscles, ligaments and joints, especially in your hips, while the cool down is a relaxing and safe way to end your walk. Use five minutes for the warm-up and five minutes for the cool down. Add five minutes for the brisk part of your walk in between and to increase intensity, extend the brisk walk by five minutes until you can do a full 30 to 60 minutes total.
6. If you choose to walk with weights, pay extra attention to your form and your body. Swinging weight incorrectly or using them if you are not used to them puts extra strain on joints. This can lead to sore knees and elbows if you are not careful. The best form for hand weights is to keep them at waist level. Begin with light weights of one or two pounds each and only increase the weight once your body has adapted.
7. Stick with the diet part of your weight loss plan. Many people who are not used to exercise will use the extra expended calories as an excuse to eat more, or feel that exercise stimulates hunger. Don’t fall for this by remembering how good you will feel and how much quicker you will see results when you stick to both diet and exercise.
Make walking a fun part of your weight loss plan. Incorporate your walking routine three or four days a week. Enjoy even more benefits by including strength training two days a week, on days you don’t walk. Don’t forget you can log your daily walks or workouts with Yes.Fit, pick a race and earn awesome rewards to help keep you motivated.
Together with your weight loss diet, you will feel and look great in a few short weeks, so get out there and have fun.