Walking Your Way to Weight Loss

Walking is the simplest, cheapest and most convenient way to exercise, but a new study suggests there’s actually a magic number of steps to aim for if you’re truly looking to shed pounds while walking.

As written in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, data included each participant’s age, BMI, heart rate, and breathing rate so they could learn of any correlation between walking and overall health.

Is there a “magic number of steps”?  According to the study’s co-author, Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke, the answer is yes.  100 steps per minute (about 2.7 miles per hour) is the magic formula for it to be considered moderate exercise, where your heart rate increases by 50 to 70 percent. When you break it down, it’s just under 2 steps per second, which definitely sounds doable for a healthy individual. She states, “This rate applies to anyone under the age of 60.  Currently, federal guidelines say that Americans should exercise at least for 30 minutes each day, so you’ll need to ensure that you get those 3,000 steps in within that time period.”

So, turn up the intensity of a walk and burn more calories quicker with these simple habits:

  • Walk faster. People often wonder how you might burn more calories per mile at slow speeds. This is because you are basically stopping and starting with each step and your momentum isn’t helping to carry you along. Your body walks more efficiently at moderate speeds. Meanwhile, at very high walking speeds you are using more muscle groups with arm motion and with a racewalking stride. Brisk walking, at a pace that makes it tough to talk, which means at least two miles in 30 minutes, is a good way to lose weight and maintain weight management while athletic training. Your goal should be to work out at about 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. (To calculate your target heartbeats per minute, subtract your age from 220, and then multiply that number by 0.705.)
  • Add incline. Walk up a hill or stairs to add cardiovascular conditioning and athletic training to your workout.  This not only increases your calorie expenditure but also tones the muscles in your buttocks and thighs because it demands more from your legs.
  • Walk with a buddy. Activities – especially athletic training – is always more fun with a friend. Research confirms that a support system helps maintain long-term, weight management.
  • Find a fun walking partner. According to 30 Tips When You’re Walking for Weight Loss by Eat This Not That!, “It’s no joke: genuine laughter may cause a 10–20 percent increase in basal energy expenditure and resting heart-rate, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity. That means a 10-15 minute giggle fest could burn up 40 to 170 calories.”
  • Stay hydrated. According to a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, staying hydrated helped healthy people burn more calories. The research states, “Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%.” So, remember to drink water while walking and burn calories quicker.

Regular exercise – especially walking – is beneficial for people of all ages.  Exercise helps to improve muscle and joint flexibility and keeps your heart healthy while improving bone and joint health.  It also can improve sleep and helps to maintain weight management.

Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person’s individual fitness goals.  Want to lose weight or maintain weight management as an adult or combat childhood obesity?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic edge?  No problem!  Whether you are a child or a senior citizen, Fitness for Health can you help you and your loved ones reach your full potential.