Walking for weight loss not working?

Been walking regularly for exercise but finding your weight loss journey going slowly, or even worse, backwards? So many people use walking as their main form of exercise but get frustrated when they either reach a plateau or the weight doesn’t budge. We look at whether walking is enough when it comes to losing weight.

Time to get serious

Question: Does it get you red in the face and out of breath?  The answer to this is usually, ‘no’. Aerobic exercise  that makes your heart work harder is the key to burning fat more efficiently, so unless you’re an uber fitness beginner, a walk around the mall doesn’t count as your daily exercise. Now, if you’re out bushwalking up and down mountains and getting huffy puffy for an hour, that kind of walking is a whole different story…

If you have a lot of weight to lose, have a very sedentary lifestyle or haven’t done exercise in a very long time, walking can be a great way of getting started. You can use it to get into the swing of a routine and get yourself into the mindset of becoming fitter and healthier. However, once you get to the point where it is no longer challenging and if you are capable of pushing yourself a bit harder, aim higher!

If it really was so simple to shift bodyfat that all we had to do was take a leisurely stroll once a day, we probably wouldn’t have the statistic of approximately one in two New Zealanders being overweight. We simply need to step up the intensity and eat healthier foods.

Choose your exercise carefully

When choosing a form of exercise you enjoy, if you’re after weight loss, make sure the intensity is high enough to burn more calories and make the exercise session worth your while. If you like walking, try breaking it up with jogging intervals or brisk walking intervals – when street running try walking for one lamppost, jogging to the next lamppost. Then gradually try increasing the running time as your fitness improves.

If you need a low impact exercise, cycling and swimming are other fantastic ways of stepping up your game without taking too much toll on your body.

The weight loss equation

At the end of the day, walking does burn calories so don’t ditch your dog and his leash yet! It’s good for people who can’t do high impact activities due to injury, and any kind of activity is good activity.

However, we do need to remember that body fat is just stored energy and reducing it is all about ensuring the energy you’re putting in to your body (food and drink) is smaller than the energy you’re putting out (planned and incidental exercise, like walking an extra block to work). So if you have specific planned exercise time and your aim is losing weight, it may be better to do an activity that burns more calories.

It may be more difficult and require some extra dedication, but striving to be healthier and happier is what makes it worth the effort.

Image / Flickr – o5com

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