Recent controversial news reports have stated that exercising to promote weight loss is a misconception. Many physically active people and medical professionals beg to differ. It’s true that exercise in the presence of unlimited, unrestricted calories will not promote weight loss. However, we can’t rule out the benefits of regular exercise in relation to weight loss and maintenance of normal weight when combined with a reduced calorie, healthy and nutritious diet. In addition to burning calories, toning muscles and reducing body fat, participation in regular moderate physical activity improves overall wellbeing, aids digestion, improves mood and reduces the risk of just about everything, from diabetes to heart disease to cancer and other preventable diseases. For many of us, weight loss or weight maintenance may be the primary goal of exercise. However, disease prevention should also be at the top of the list.
Though weight loss strategies abound, most don’t work long term. Crash dieting or drastic caloric restrictions may help you lose weight but it won’t help you to maintain that weight loss. Quick weight loss generally results in quick weight regain. The most effective way to lose weight long term is to cut back on unhealthy high calorie, low nutrient foods and instead fill up on whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense, fiber filled foods that satiate without spiking blood sugar. Add walking to your daily routine and you may lose 10 – 20 pounds in a matter of months, dependent upon your current weight, how much you would like to lose, and your commitment to healthy eating and regular exercise. Walking is one the safest and easiest forms of beneficial physical activity. It’s so easy and accessible really, there’s hardly any excuse not to do it.
Make an assessment of how much you are moving each day. If you are sitting on your commute to work or school, sitting all day at a desk and plopping down on the sofa after dinner every night, you are leading an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle. Most of us walk less than 5,000 steps daily. In order to improve your general health and your weight, 10,000 steps should be the ultimate daily goal. Initially, aim to walk for 20 minutes, three or four times a week. While speed and intensity do lead to more calories burned in a shorter period of time, walking for 30 minutes after dinner at a speed of just three miles per hour will effectively burn calories.
To ramp up weight loss, work toward increasing your speed. Studies have found that women who do three 30-minute high intensity walks and two moderately paced recovery walks each week lose up to six times more abdominal fat and four times more body fat than those who casually stroll five days each week. Gradually increase the pace, frequency and duration of your walks as you become more fit and watch the pounds slowly melt away. To lose ½ pound per week, you need to burn an extra 250 calories each day. To lose 1 pound per week, you need to burn an extra 500 calories daily. In addition, it’s essential that you don’t exceed the recommended caloric intake for your body weight.
Recommended daily caloric intake for women:
Active women: Women who walk more than 3 miles daily or who participate in other comparable physical activity need about 18 calories per pound or about 2,160 calories per day for a 120-pound woman.
Moderately active women: Women who walk 1.5 – 3 miles per day require approximately 16 calories per pound equating to 1,920 daily calories for a 120-pound woman.
Sedentary women: Those who don’t exercise outside of normal day-to-day activities need only 13 calories per pound, which is about 1,560 calories each day for an inactive 120-pound woman.
Overweight women: For successful weight loss, multiply your desirable body weight by 10 to get the approximate number of calories to consume daily.
As with all sports, posture and body alignment are important – tensed shoulders, bowed head, immobile arms – do not make for a smooth walking glide and can lead to back pain or knee injury. With proper alignment, movement becomes more fluid, while joint discomfort lessens.
- Relax the neck and shoulders. Lengthen the space between the shoulders and the ears to bring the head into a correct more comfortable position. To keep your neck comfortably in line with the spine, keep the chin up and focus about 10 feet ahead.
- Bend and relax the arms and let them naturally swing backward and forward. Keep the hands loose and open. Keep the elbows close the body and move the arms in an arc to build upper body strength and burn more calories.
- Draw your abdominal muscles inward and upward to activate the muscles and maintain good posture.
- Work towards a longer stride. Plant each food solidly on the ground and roll from the heel, through the ball of the foot, and lastly, push off as you reach the toes.
Walking’s natural motion provides both physical and mental health benefits and is an excellent way to improve your long term health. In addition to eliminating excess body weight, a regular consistent walking routine improves cardiovascular health, increases endurance, tones and strengthens muscles, and balances your state of mind.
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PGX Weight Loss Meal Replacement French Vanilla by Bioclinic Naturals – This tasty and satisfying meal replacement smoothie promotes healthy weight loss by normalizing postprandial blood glucose levels, improving insulin sensitivity, and increasing satiety. Also available in Double Chocolate flavor. Gluten free.
BCAA Capsules by Pure Encapsulations – Branched chain amino acids provide nutritional support for athletes and exercisers seeking optimal lean muscle mass. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.
Healthy Transformation Weight Loss Program by Metagenics – This clinically designed program provides targeted nutritional support for basic wellness and strategic weight loss. Non-GMO.
Pro Series Exercise Ball – 75 cm Blue by TheraBand® – Preferred by professional athletes, this ball was specifically designed to deflate slowly if punctured, reducing injury risk. The responsive surface design provides improved stability and enhanced workout performance. Exercise poster included.
Can I lose weight if my only exercise is walking? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/walking/faq-20058345
How to Walk Off 10 Pounds. http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20680533,00.html
Daily Recommended Caloric Intake for Women. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/daily-recommended-caloric-intake-women-6675.html
Walking Weight Loss Tips. http://www.fitnesshealth101.com/fitness/weight-loss/strategies/walking-tips