You can absolutely burn fat and improve your overall health by walking.
Over the past few years, walking and staying active have honestly become trendy. Hitting a certain number of steps for the day and corporate walking challenges have helped to improve daily physical activity. In fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services advises that adults should move more and sit less throughout the day, and they urge that some physical activity is better than none. If you are trying to manage your weight, walking can be a useful weight management tool. Here’s everything you need to know about walking for weight loss, including our tips and tricks for maximizing your stride.
Walking for Weight Loss Tips
- Check the weather: The last thing you want is to get caught in a rainstorm in the middle of your walk (which has happened to me several times, so learn from my mistakes). I like to take a look at the weather report in the morning to see when the best time for my walk would be. If I normally walk at around 5 p.m. but the weather report expects rain, then I may reschedule my walk for lunchtime. And always carry a charged phone with you just in case the weather takes a turn and you need someone to pick you up.
- Hydrate: If you’re heading out for a long walk, you’ll want to make sure that you are hydrated. Try to stay hydrated during the day and drink two cups of water at least 30-60 minutes before your walk so it’s out of your system (and you won’t have to use the bathroom). When you return from your walk, make sure to down a glass of water to rehydrate the body. Avoid any sugary sodas or electrolyte drinks; if you’re walking at a moderate intensity, water will do just fine to rehydrate the body.
- Get the right gear: Toss away the old flip-flops and opt for a good pair of sneakers. This will help with posture during your walk and can also reduce the risk of injury. Plus, if you have the right sneakers on, it can help improve your stride and make walking a longer distance more comfortable.
- Focus on form: Walking itself doesn’t take much skill and is very natural, but certain posture and form cues can help enhance your walk. Focus on keeping your chin up and shoulders square. Your core should be activated and your back should be nice and straight. Most importantly, your glutes should be engaged with every step and try to think about tucking your butt inward. You’ll want to land on your heels and roll forward to push off of your toes with each stride.
- Pick up the pace: Walking in intervals is a great way to help you burn more calories and keep your walk interesting. When it comes to walking, there are three different types of paces: stroll (similar to window shopping, about a 3/4 difficulty on a scale of 10), brisk walk (making an effort here, about a 4/5 difficulty), and power walk (on a mission, about a 5/6 difficulty). Warm-up with a stroll, then aim for a brisk pace throughout your walk and push to a power walk pace every five minutes to get your heart rate up. See how long you can maintain a power walk pace for and then try to increase it by a few seconds every time you go out for your walk. Power walking for weight loss can make a big difference in your overall health.
- Set a goal: How far can you walk in 30 minutes or in 1 hour? In order to optimize your walking pace, try to aim for 1.5 miles per 30 minutes and 3 miles per hour, which is a brisk pace of about 20 minutes per mile. If you can’t commit to walking for a full hour or 30 minutes, do what you can, anything is better than nothing and can contribute to your daily steps tremendously.
- Walk on an incline: If you’re indoors, a treadmill will allow you to manipulate your incline and that can enhance the caloric burn of your walk. If you’re outside, try to opt for a hilly area to optimize your walk. Research suggests that increasing incline can enhance the intensity of the workout while also reducing the impact on the legs and joints.
- Walk with a friend: An accountability buddy can help you stay on track and make that daily walk non-negotiable. Try to find a friend, family member, or co-worker who will go for a walk with you a few times a week to keep you motivated and change things up.