Walking for weight loss: the benefits and harms, the right technique

Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Walking in human life has a very important role because it is the main way to travel from the very beginning of the existence of mankind. But every year people come up with more and more ways in order to make their life easier and give up walking, which contributes to the appearance of excess weight or obesity in a person. The last frontier was the massive use of electric bicycles, boards, and gyro scooters, which almost completely replaced walking for a certain category of people. This is very dangerous, when walking a person uses 90% of all the muscles of the body, thereby training them daily and preventing atrophy. To maintain the body in good shape, each person needs to do at least 10,000 steps daily. It is easy to follow, every modern smartphone is equipped with programs for counting steps that monitor your activity and can accurately calculate how many steps you have taken today. Below you will learn about the types of walking and their health benefits.

Walking for weight loss

Every overweight person thinks about losing weight in order to improve their well-being and get rid of problems in the body associated with being overweight. The first thing that comes to mind is to start running, but it’s not so simple. Running is contraindicated for overweight people, it creates an excessive load on the knee joints and inevitably leads to problems. To avoid this, you need to start with walking. It does not harm the legs and does not create an excessive load on the cardiovascular system.

What is the use?

Daily walks in the fresh air have many positive aspects. The most obvious ones are improving well-being, relieving emotional stress, and maintaining all body muscles in good shape. But walking has many other positive aspects, namely:

  •  the probability of a tumor in the intestine is 30% less in people who regularly engage in walking;
  •  walks lasting at least 30 minutes. improve and strengthen the work of the cardiovascular system;
  • the risk of varicose veins decreases sharply with daily walking for more than half an hour;
  • regular walking can normalize blood pressure;
  •  positively affects the strengthening of the musculoskeletal system of a person and the condition of the joints;
  • during a walk a person spends 300-350 kcal per hour;
  • contributes to the normalization of cholesterol in the blood;
  • evening walk helps to cope with insomnia.

Possible harm

Despite all the advantages, walking, like any other type of active activity, can be harmful. Most often this can be heard from people whose work involves constant movement without the ability to give their feet a rest. So, in the case of a long walk in improperly selected shoes, you harm your legs, in particular, the feet suffer. If we add to this the still poorly developed muscles of the feet, then in combination with bad shoes, the risk of their deformation and the appearance of various diseases of the lower extremities increases. In order not to harm yourself, you must choose a comfortable speed when walking in accordance with their capabilities.

Important! When walking with a high level of heartbeat, the body begins to burn NOT adipose tissue, but glycogen, in order to quickly supply energy to the body.

The right approach to walking

In order to get the maximum result in a short time, you need not only regular walks but also proper nutrition in order to conduct training with health benefits as efficiently as possible. It is incorrect to think that you will get any significant result from the fact that you just walk around the city. Walking is a whole science in which new techniques, types, and technologies for improving existing techniques are developed annually.

Calorie Counting

An important component in losing weight is the calculation of calories consumed and spent. It is important to maintain a rational difference so as not to harm the body. The best option would be to consume 500 kcal less than you spend every day.

If this figure is larger, the body will switch to a resource-saving mode: a decrease in the level of metabolic activity will begin to save energy resources required to maintain vital human processes. This process will continue until the body begins to receive the amount of food it needs. This can explain the fact that a large imbalance between the number of calories spent and consumed reduces the effectiveness of losing weight. In a world filled with various gadgets, counting calories is very simple. As for measuring the number of steps taken, there are many special applications that make the process of calculating calories as easy as possible.

Such applications contain their own product catalogs with a detailed description of calories and amounts of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. During the day, you fill out a table of products that you consumed, and at the end, you will be able to assess whether you have met the desired calorie limit or not.

Depending on the lifestyle, each person needs to go through a different number of steps. However, scientists have agreed that 10,000 steps per day are the optimal amount for losing weight without harm to health.

It does not matter whether it will be a walk: morning or evening, this will not change the number of calories burned. The main thing is that she should be no later than 2 hours before the start of sleep so that the body is not too excited and can calmly prepare for bed.

It is also worth noting that when walking, on average, it is burned 150-200 kcal per hour less than when running. However, the risk of injury or harm to yourself is much less, which explains the popularity of this particular method in the fight against excess weight.

 Gradual increase in speed

It is very important to choose the optimal initial speed while walking for weight loss because it is the key to effective training.

For people who are overweight or obese, it’s worth starting with a 10-15 minute walk daily at a slow pace. This is due to the fact that previously the heart did not receive such loads and it needs to “get used” to the changes.

 Increase the duration of the walk should be renewing it every week by 5-10 minutes, after which you can change the speed. A walk with a duration of 45-50 minutes is considered optimal, with a longer walk you will only get a decrease in calories burned.

Once your heart and vascular system have become stronger, you can move on to speed. We raise the speed, focusing on the heartbeat. It is necessary to increase it in such a way that your heart rate is in the range of 130-140 beats per second, at higher values ​​of burning fat tissue it passes much worse.

 You should be very careful when increasing speed and follow the above rules. If during walking you have pain in the heart area or if you feel worse, you need to slow down or relax.

Important! During a walk, you must drink at least half a liter of water to avoid the risk of dehydration.

 Right breathing

Equally important during exercise is a proper breathing technique, but is it really that important? There are hundreds of articles about this and more than a dozen studies have been conducted. The only thing to keep in mind is to make you comfortable while breathing, and it doesn’t matter if you breathe through your nose or mouth.

There are a lot of breathing techniques, as well as supporters of each of them. You should breathe naturally, get maximum pleasure and benefit from it, and not as you read in a popular magazine. There is a very simple way to check whether you are breathing correctly and how comfortable your speed is.

 If during training you can calmly answer questions to a friend without breaking the rhythm of breathing, then everything is optimally selected.

 Beginners do not need to “go in cycles” with the breathing technique, because the body can perfectly regulate the amount of oxygen it needs on its own.

Diet features

 It is worth remembering that without a balanced diet you will not achieve the desired result. It doesn’t matter how many steps you take, if after class, as a reward for your efforts, you bought and ate a cake with more calories than you burned.

You need to review your diet and fundamentally change it, following the recommendations below:

1. The first thing to do is to exclude from the diet all processed foods, sweets, fast food. Such food encompasses fats and carbohydrates in bulk, which, not only are they very high in calories, after which you will feel hungry again after an hour.

2. Refuse all products from premium flour, with the exception of whole-grain bread and pasta made from durum wheat. Complex carbohydrates in the diet, on the contrary, will be useful, they are usually found in cereals, for example, buckwheat.

3. Exclude sausages. They contain very little meat, and everything else is fats and substitutes. It is better to cook a small piece of boiled chicken, which is rich in protein and will provide you with the necessary energy. Also, protein can be obtained from eggs, milk, nuts, and poultry.

4. Sunflower oil should be replaced with olive and increase the amount of fish in the diet.

5. Fruits also need to be careful, they are rich in carbohydrates, so their number must be controlled.

6. After training, simple water quenches thirst better; discard juices that are half sugar. If you think that after switching to a balanced diet you will have nothing to eat, you should reconsider your cooking methods. Steaming or stewing will be most effective; such food will not be oily and high-calorie.

 Did you know? The squash diet is considered the most low-calorie diet, with its help you can lose up to 2 kg per week.

 Types and techniques of walking for weight loss

Since there are different types of running, you can walk in different ways. It all depends on the needs of the person, his training, and the result that he wants to get.

So, for a person who wants to lose weight faster, walking is better suited, but it is not at all suitable for a person who in his life did not go beyond the supermarket across the road from home.

Intense walking is suitable for him, it is slower than athletic walking, but it is not much inferior in the number of calories burned. For people who want to not only lose weight but also build muscle, the option of walking with weighting materials is perfect.

Thanks to such variability of walking, everyone will be able to choose what suits his needs.

Nordic with sticks

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

This is one of the types of walking that arose as a result of the need to maintain the physical fitness of winter sports athletes in good shape during the summer season and lack of snow.

After several years, the new look proved to be very good, the athletes showed excellent results after applying Nordic walking, and their physical condition did not deteriorate.

This is due to the fact that when using the right equipment and the appropriate equipment, the same amount of muscle is involved as when running, but the risk of injury is much less.

For weight loss, this type is very useful, it has no contraindications and is suitable for people of any age category. But in order to burn fat in this way, you must first work on the correct technique, otherwise, there will be no more benefit than a simple walk.

The main points in Nordic walking are:

  • during the step it is necessary to roll the foot from the heel to the toe, if the step is done with the right foot, then synchronously push off with the left stick and vice versa;
  • arms and legs move synchronously, as when walking, but with a greater amplitude;
  • sticks must be held so that the hand in front of the body holds it at an angle of 90 degrees, the other is placed in the direction of the stick;
  •  the hand should move with an amplitude of 45 degrees; 
  • use only special sticks that are selected individually for your height.

Before you start walking fast, it is worth working out the correct implementation of the technique in slow motion.

Compared to regular walking, the Scandinavian version has several advantages:

  • the number of calories burned increases by 40%;
  • pressure on the spine and knees is reduced through the use of sticks;
  • allows you to correct the deficiencies of posture;
  • involved upper and lower parts of the body.

It is also important to choose the right equipment. Walking with ski poles is not recommended, as they are higher and the walking technique will suffer during movement. In addition, shoes need to be selected so that it does not get wet, but allows moisture to be removed, with additional cushioning in the front and back.

 During the lesson, it is necessary to maintain the heartbeat no higher than 135 beats per minute, the duration should be from 40 to 60 minutes.

Up the stairs

Unlike the previous view, walking up the stairs creates a much greater burden on the cardiovascular system, as a result – this view will not fit all categories of people.

Did you know? German Thomas Dold set a world record by breaking the steps of 86 floors in 10 minutes.

People with heart disease, high blood pressure, and varicose veins should refrain from such an activity.

The main advantage of this method is the increased calorie consumption, it can be up to 400 kcal per half-hour of movement on the steps.

The duration of the training should be calculated individually for each person since overload can do more harm than good. You can start by climbing 2-3 floors, 3-4 approaches with a rest of 4-5 minutes. between them so that the heartbeat returns to normal.

Weekly, you can increase the number of floors, no more than one, so as not to overload the heart. Before this, it is necessary to do a warming up of the muscles to avoid possible injuries.

Together with exercises at home

 To achieve greater efficiency, you can combine exercises with walking, so you double the effect and become one step closer to your goal.

The following are some exercises that you can perform while walking:

1. Walking with high hips. It is necessary to take a step to raise the thigh-high so that it is parallel to the ground. The angle between the trunk and thigh should be straight.

2. Lunges. Instead of each step, it is necessary to make a wide attack. Before each subsequent attack, you need to put the working leg to the supporting leg.

3. Torso twists. Hands are bent in front of the chest, synchronously at each step, turn the torso and open your arms. First done in one direction, then in the other.

4. Throwing shins back. At each step, the legs are thrown so that they touch the thigh. The back should be even, hands on the belt.

Interval walking on the treadmill

Not always the weather helps to go for a walk. Rain, wind, and heat make many people look for a reason that would justify absenteeism. In such cases, saves a trip to the hall. The gym is often located close to home, and bad weather will not interfere with your workout.

Walking on a treadmill is one of the most popular cardio loads, which allows you to lose weight and improve your fitness.

Interval walking is one of the modifications of ordinary walking, in which alternation of fast and slow walking is carried out at different angles of inclination of the track. This option allows you to better train the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, creates a good load on the muscles.

A standard workout should begin with a 5-minute warm-up to avoid injury. Basic training usually lasts 30–40 minutes. The final step is a hitch to remove excess lactic acid from the muscles, and even out your heartbeat and breathing.

With regular training and a balanced diet, you can see the first significant results after 2-3 weeks.

Useful Tips

In order to get the most out of your walks, you should also follow the tips that will help ease your workouts:

  •  classes should be carried out in high-quality synthetic clothing that removes moisture and will not cause rubbing;
  • Planning the start of training should be no earlier than 2–2.5 hours after taking carbohydrate foods, and after 3 hours for protein;
  • shoes should be chosen half a size larger than usual, since during walking the foot swells and increases in size;
  • so that walks do not seem too boring, take headphones with you and listen to your favorite music or audiobooks;
  •  during the workout it is necessary to drink water in small sips, even if you do not feel thirsty;
  • keep an eye on the serving size; even healthy foods in large quantities can be harmful.

Regardless of which training method you prefer, you need to remember that you can only get the result in the “training + balanced nutrition + rest” package. Each of the components is very important, and its absence significantly impairs efficiency.

The main thing is patience and willpower, and in just a few months you will be happy to be able to show off your results to friends and acquaintances.



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