Tips for Walking for Fitness and Weight Loss
If you’re looking for a gentle way to ease into exercise, walking can be one of the best options for you. Paired with the stunning views and the benefits you can get from being out in nature and the fresh air, walking can be extremely good for both physical and mental fitness.
Walking burns around four calories a minute, so it’s definitely not the most intensive form of exercise for weight loss. However, there are a number of ways in which you can adapt your walking style to achieve a more effective walk for both fitness and weight loss.
Generally speaking, you will burn more calories walking at a brisk pace than if you walk slowly. However, research suggests that switching your pace throughout the walk is more beneficial. One such method is to practice interval-walking, which sees you change pace a few times within the walk, as this can increase metabolic rate to 20% more than if you keep to the same pace throughout the walk.
Even a small gradient can contribute to 30% more calories being burned when you walk, so try to incorporate a hill or two into your treks. There are plenty of hillside and moorland hikes around the country that would be ideal for this, but anywhere with an incline will do! As well as burning more calories, walking uphill works out your glutes and hamstrings, which can improve your leg muscles and overall fitness.
Add Resistance Training
While calorie burning is essential for weight loss, it is also crucial to work on your strength, to help increase the growth of muscle. One of the best ways to achieve this is by adding resistance training intervals to your walk, taking periodical breaks to perform exercises such as squats, push-ups and lunges. As well as increasing muscle strength, these small moments of exercise also increase heart rate, which aids weight loss. Resistance training intervals can also make your walk a bit more interesting!
Focus on Form
The posture you hold while walking also has an impact on your fitness. Focus on tightening the glutes and abdominal muscles when you walk to improve their strength. Make sure you look ahead as you walk, as that can help to increase your speed. If you are walking uphill, then make sure you do not tilt yourself towards the slope too much – a little lean is okay, but ensure that your torso remains positioned over your hips.
Track Your Steps
Whether you use an app, fitness watch or pedometer, tracking the number of steps you take in a day can be a great way of making sure you are getting enough exercise from walking every single day. Consistency is key when it comes to weight loss from walking, and it is advised you reach at least 10,000 steps a day. As it is unlikely you will be able to embark on a several-hour-long hike on a daily basis, a fitness tracker is a great way of checking how much you manage to walk on an average day. If the number of steps is too low, then try to make some lifestyle changes, incorporating more walks into your daily routine, such as one in the morning, one at lunchtime and one in the evening.
Prepare Before You Leave
One of the great things about walking is that you only really need a pair of walking boots to get started, with no other equipment required. To get the most out of your walks, though, you do need to prepare a little. Make sure the shoes you wear are suited to the terrain you will be walking on, as inappropriate footwear will slow you down and could cause injury. Your shoes should be comfortable and lightweight, with a flexible sole and stiff heel to support the foot and ankle, such as our lightweight walking boots. Before you leave for a walk, you should also prepare by dressing in weather-appropriate clothing and bringing a light raincoat with you in case the weather turns.
Another way in which you can prepare is to plan out potential routes before you leave the house. This allows you to be more confident about the walk you are going to embark on and will allow you to walk faster and further, without the need to stop to look at directions repeatedly. It can also be beneficial to bring a walking music playlist with you, as fast-paced music can help to keep you motivated on a walk.
If you are looking to get started with more intensive walking or hiking, then check out these UK hiking trips for beginners!