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Let me get this off my chest from the beginning – I’m a walker. I don’t run or cycle, though I enjoy a good power walk, a sweaty spin class and yoga or pilates in between. My favorites are long walks in the mountains, but I settle for a good walk on the streets most days. The best part is that you can start walking for weight loss and countless other benefits today with 5 simple items that you probably already have at home – just check out my list below.
So why am I a die-hard walking fan?
Because it’s easy, free, clears my head and helps me lose weight (and keep it off).
I’ve been doing some research on walking to answer questions I had. Then I thought you might have questions too… so I put it all together here for you, to read and get started.
Walking is natural! When we didn’t have cars, trains, buses or planes, we got around just fine. How? By walking! Our bodies are made for it.
Walking got us across continents and into new lands. Walking helped us find food and survive. Walking helped us explore and experience the world.
Good old-fashioned walking.
What’s the difference between walking and jogging?
Walking simply means that you have one foot on the ground at all times – it’s not about how fast you go. Have you ever seen power walkers? They often walk right past joggers in races!
Walking is low-impact exercise. Because there’s always one foot on the ground, there’s very little impact on landing for the foot still in the air. Jogging and running are high-impact exercises.
Is walking good exercise?
Ummmm, absolutely! (Ignore those runners who say it isn’t!)
According to Harvard Medical School and various researchers, more and more information is coming to light about how good walking is for you. Running and high-intensity workouts are great for health and fitness, but they do up your chances of injury because they are high-impact too.
Walking, on the other hand, is wonderful exercise with low risk and tons of benefits. You just have to walk a bit longer than you’d run to get the same benefits (without the knee pain).
Experts differ on how much and how often you should walk, but most agree on the number of steps you should take every day…
How many steps should I take a day?
We should be taking about 10 000 steps a day. Have you ever worn a fitness watch to track this? You will be surprised how few you probably take, especially if you work at a desk!
You cover about 2.1-2.5 feet with each step you take. So, 10 000 steps a day would take you across 5 miles a day.
Who really should walk and not run (even if they want to run at some stage)?
Anyone who is very unfit or more than 20 pounds over their ideal weight should start with walking. You can work your way up from there as your fitness levels improve and your weight drops.
You shouldn’t start jogging before being able to easily walk briskly for 40 to 50 minutes straight.
What are the benefits of walking?
There are too many to cover here in my little blog post, but I can list some of the benefits of walking below.
- Boosts your immune system
- Reduces stress levels
- Reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers
- Helps to keep blood sugar levels stable
- Lowers blood pressure
- Is good for your brain
And with my list of 5 basic items to start walking, you can be ready, set, and on your way to all these benefits and more!
My new walking for weight loss pants. The pants on the left are Under Armour compression pants, which I’m keen to try out. The ones on the right are Adidas, and I love the patterns and the comfortable elastic around the waist.
Walking for weight loss – can you really lose weight by walking?
Hey, Monique! You said you walk for weight loss! Tell me more.
Okay, okay. I know you really want to know.
Walking reduces body fat percentage moderately and tones up your body, especially your glutes and thighs. It will never leave you looking like a body builder, but it will get you off the couch and off with some kilos – the studies prove it.
Now here’s my take on this. I walk for weight loss because walking tones me up and makes me feel good, inside and out. When I feel good, I eat ‘good’. And this combo leads to a lot more weight loss for me.
What you put into your mouth has the biggest influence on what you weigh. Seriously, exercise is 25% of your weight loss and diet is the other 75%! So I focus on counting carbs and meal planning for a primal diet and then I relax about exercise, walking to enjoy it and reap the rewards that come. If I don’t walk, I tend to eat much more, and it becomes a negative cycle. If I walk, I find it much easier to make healthier choices overall. I also make sure I drink enough coffee because studies show how good it is for you – and it helps with weight loss.
I don’t follow any strict walking programs or challenges. I focus on enjoying my walks and working up a sweat while I’m out there. I do think that accountability partners and walking buddies are a great idea for walking, so try to find one or join a group if this appeals to you.
Use this calorie burner calculator
Just fill in your details below to work out how many calories you burn in a walking session, or for any other exercise on the list.
Do you have any tips for losing weight and toning up with walking?
Walk at least 4 times a week for 30 minutes or more. Bend your elbows and swing them to and fro as you walk, to increase the workout intensity and tone your arms.
Change what you walk on. Choose routes with straight, flat streets where you can get some speed. Mix these up with going up and down hills. Get out into the mountains for a trail walk or along the beach for a sandy walk that tones your calves too.
Want to tone up your glutes and abs at the same time?
Pull in your stomach while walking and tense your glutes. And I mean really tense up your glutes to activate them when you need a good push up those hills.
How long and how often should I start walking?
First, make sure you have the 5 basic items in my handy checklist of essentials to get started walking. You can get this in my free resource library.
My advice is to start with short walks and build it up from there.
Start with a 10-15-minute walk around the block. Walk at least 4 days of the week, adding a block every few days. Push yourself further on days you can do it. Take it easier on days you have little time or struggle to go far, then thank your body for getting out there. We don’t need to punish ourselves here.
Focus on eating healthy foods, letting the walks complement your weight loss and overall wellbeing. Walking is a booster, a stabilizer, a form of self-care and love. Don’t rely on walking to lose weight after eating fast food and cake all week ?
Where should I start walking?
Find a pavement or footpath that isn’t very busy to start with. If the sun is out in full force, try to choose a walkway with some shade.
Always look before crossing any streets, please. Safety comes first and you won’t win a race with a car or a bike.
What’s the proper way to walk?
We have been walking for most of our lives, but a few tips might help you walk better and avoid injuries.
Stand up straight, keeping your eyes ahead of you. Your neck should be in line with your spine. Keep your feet hip-width apart.
As you walk, try to come off your toes evenly and then land gently on your heels. Keep your feet pointing ahead, to avoid twisting your ankles.
If your shoulders tend to sink, like mine, do a forward shoulder roll so that they ‘reset’ their position. Your shoulders should stay relaxed along the walk.