If you’re trying to work out to lose weight, walking can be a great place to start. The barrier to entry is low: you can walk anywhere, you can start at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and the only equipment you need is a decent pair of shoes.
Once you get into the routine of walking for weight loss, you can start challenging yourself to burn more calories so that you shed more pounds. Below are some tips to help you get the maximum benefit out of your walking workouts.
Speed Up, but Be Strategic
When trying to achieve weight loss by walking, one of the most obvious ways to increase the calories you burn is to pick up the pace. However, don’t try to increase the pace too rapidly if you’ve just started working out. Gradually pick up the pace over the course of several weeks to avoid injury. Try to take faster steps rather than longer strides; this will help minimize the strain on your legs and feet.
Increase Your Walking Time
When you first start walking to lose weight, you might only work out for 15 to 20 minutes. However, as you get more comfortable working out, try spending more time walking. Not all of your walking has to take place during a structured workout: you could park half a mile away from your office and walk in, or you could walk instead of driving to meet a friend at a coffee shop, for example.
Chase New Personal Records
Motivate yourself to keep walking and losing weight by setting goals. Start by timing yourself while walking a mile at a moderate pace (a pace at which you could still carry on a conversation). Try to shave a few seconds off your base time on your next walk. Continue trying to shave off a few seconds on your personal record during each walking workout. Record your daily mileage and time to keep track of your improvement.
Get an Upper Body Workout
While you’re walking, pump your arms from your shoulders and swing them naturally in opposition to your steps (i.e. your right arm should come forward as your left leg comes forward). This will help you speed up your pace and get in a light upper body workout.
For an added challenge, you could try carrying one-pound hand weights or strapping on wrist weights. However, don’t do this without talking to your doctor. Walking with hand weights usually isn’t recommended for people with high blood pressure or heart disease.
Mix Up the Terrain
Try walking in new places so that you’re not covering the same terrain every day. Walking on grass or gravel can help you burn more calories than walking on paved streets, and it’s also easier on your joints. If you’re lucky enough to live near the beach, challenge yourself to walk on the sand, and try to keep up the pace you normally would. You’ll get a great weight loss workout by walking and potentially burn 50 percent more calories than you would walking on a flat paved road.
Do an Interval Workout
Interval walking workouts require you to alter the intensity of different portions of your walk. For example, you could race walk for one minute, walk at a moderate pace for four minutes, and repeat this cycle for a 45-minute workout. You could also add hill training into your interval workout. When you come to a hill, walk up it as fast as you can, and then take it easier on the downhill to reduce the strain on your knees.
Start Your Day with a Walk
Research has shown that the mental fatigue you experience after a long day can negatively impact your workouts. To avoid this fatigue, try going for a walk first thing in the morning when you’re still fresh from a good night’s sleep. Walking during the morning can also be a good choice during the summer since the temperature will be more pleasant at this time of day.
Remember, you can always talk to a medical weight loss doctor at Diet Doc to get customized advice about walking for weight loss and other exercise guidelines as part of an overall weight loss plan. We’re here to help you meet your weight loss goals.