When it comes to losing weight, not only is our appearance at stake, but also our health: overweight and obesity are risk factors in many serious diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems or cancer, among others.
That is why we are many who strive to find an affordable method, incorporable to our day to day and effective to remove some kilos in the form of body fat.
Could walking be that method? Is it possible to lose weight by incorporating a simple activity such as walking and without the need for a diet? The answer is something more complex than a yes or no. Walking is in fact one of the best ways to incorporate exercise into your daily life, but by itself, it is unlikely to help you lose weight.
Walking burns calories
Let’s start by explaining that to lose weight, it is necessary for your body to burn more calories than it consumes. Calories are the energy that the body needs to carry out all its functions, which allow you to move, breathe and think.
However, each person uses a different number of calories. The total depends on your age, sex, genetics and your daily level of physical activity.
In our current lifestyle, mostly sedentary, incorporating physical activity into our habits is in many cases a conscious effort. Walking more can help you achieve it.
Depending on your weight, sex and age, walking at a calm pace 1.5 kilometers burns around 100 calories. One study concluded that people not accustomed to exercise who walk about 5 kilometers per hour (a light pace), burn about 270 calories per hour.
To increase the calories burned, it is worth to accelerate the pace or walk in areas with slopes.
Walking burns abdominal fat
Storing much body fat around the waist is related to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. In fact, a waist circumference of more than 102 centimeters in men and 88 centimeters in women is called abdominal obesity.
One of the most effective ways to reduce abdominal fat is to perform aerobic exercise regularly, such as walking. In a small study it was observed that obese women who walked between 50 and 70 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks reduced their waist average by 2.8 centimeters and lost 1.5% of their body fat.
Another study found that people on a controlled calorie diet who walked one hour five times a week for 12 weeks lost 3.7 inches of waist and 1.3% more body fat than people who only followed the diet.
Walking helps maintain the new weight
Many people who manage to lose weight later have problems maintaining the new weight. To achieve this, exercising regularly is crucial, something that can be achieved precisely by walking: walking not only increases daily activity, but also helps create more muscle, which in turn helps burn more calories even when at rest.
According to some studies, to maintain a stable weight it is best to walk 150 minutes a week. However, if you have lost a lot of weight, you may need something else, about 200 minutes a week to avoid recovering it.
How much do you have to walk, and at what pace, to lose weight?
If you want to incorporate this activity to your day to lose weight, think that going for a walk with your dog around the block is fine if your previous level of activity was null (a little is always better than nothing), but that is not enough and you should increase the time and intensity of the trip if you really want to notice its effects.
The ideal thing to lose weight is to walk at least 150 minutes a week, a total of 2 and a half hours. Try to walk almost every day, and do not skip more than one followed. If you want to lose weight, being consistent in your new habits is the most important thing. Again, ideally, each session lasts at least 30 minutes.
The reason is that during the first 20-30 minutes of exercise, your body resorts to the sugars in the blood as fuel, and it is from that moment when it turns to body fat to continue maintaining its level of activity.
As for the rhythm, try to find a speed that keeps you between 60 and 70% of your maximum heart rate. Normally that means walking at a light pace, between 5 and 6 kilometers per hour (between 3,000 and 4,500 steps every 30 minutes), but it can vary according to your usual level of physical activity.
Walking without diet is thin?
We regret to tell you that, in all probability, no. While exercise and staying active is essential to stay healthy and a great help when it comes to losing weight, food is the protagonist and the most effective way to achieve it.
As we have already said, losing weight depends on the balance between the calories you eat and the calories you burn: the first must be less than the second. It is what we call a caloric deficit, and it is the only true secret to burn body fat.
This means that walking, running or any type of physical activity will help you lose weight if your diet does not take into account your caloric intake and puts it below your daily caloric needs. It is not necessary that this deficit is very sharp: it must be wide enough so that its effects are letting you notice, even if it is little by little, but not so much that you go hungry or your body can not work.
In summary: walking is an affordable and convenient form of exercise that can help you both lose weight and stay afterwards. To achieve this, practice it for 150 minutes a week at a good pace, and try not to skip more than one day in a row. Of course, if you want to lose weight, you must also take into account your diet.