Walking to Lose Weight: Yes That's All It Could Take

Want to get lose weight? Start walking. Walking is something we can do from when we're a few months old until our hips give out from old age. It is the most fundamental mode of transportation. Walking can be done all year around if you dress properly, it requires very little equipment (good walking shoes and proper clothing), and there is always a place to walk.

The benefits of walking include;

  • improved cardiovascular system
  • improved circulation through the entire body
  • weight loss-the more you walk the more calories you will burn
  • increased cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance-heart and lungs become more efficient, muscles become better able to use oxygen
  • increased muscular strength of the lower body-primarily the lower back, hips, legs, and calf muscles
  • improved mental awareness-caused by the improved circulation and the positive effects exercise has on stress

Some tips to get started;

  • get a good pair of walking shoes. Go to a reputable shoe store and talk to the salespeople. Make sure you get 'walking' shoes, and make sure you use these shoes only for walking-as shoes wear out differently when used for other activities
  • if you haven't exercised in a long time start slowly, e.g. 10 minutes at a time, then work from there
  • find someone else to walk with. This will reduce boredom and increase your obligation to walk. And if you walk at night this might also be a safety issue
  • if it's cold wear layers of clothing, this way you can remove layers if you begin to feel too warm

Ideally, you should walk 5-6 times per week, but if you can't go out that many times something is always better than nothing. Try to aim for at least 30 minutes each day, but if you are really busy, or you tire easily, you can break up your daily walk into smaller frames, e.g. walk in the morning for 15 minutes and in the evening for another 15 minutes.

Once you can walk for 30 minutes at a time easily, here are some ideas as to how you can increase the effectiveness of your effort;

  • increase your walking time
  • increase your walking speed. You can walk faster for the entire walk, or do intervals, e.g. walk faster for 2 minutes then slow down a bit for 2 minutes
  • include small jogs, e.g. walk for 5 minutes then jog for 2 minutes
  • walk uphill
  • wear a weight vest. This increases the work load. But, if you have any knee or lower back problems extra weight may aggravate the condition
  • use light hand weights. With these you increase your work load, plus you can also do some simple arm movements to include the upper body in your workout
  • walk backwards for a portion of your walk. This will make sure that all the leg muscles are involved. Just be careful of what is behind you

These are a few things to be aware of;

  • if it's hot take some water with you, and take a break if you feel yourself getting to warm
  • if it's cold dress properly with layers
  • if it's dark wear reflective clothing and stay alert
  • if you develop any soreness (knees, ankles, lower back), go see your doctor. Don't try to walk through injuries, you will most likely make them worse
  • if you get bored take a break for a few days and do something else
  • find an area with minimal traffic so you avoid car exhaust
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