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There are many health benefits to walking on a regular basis, including weight loss. It is also one of the most accessible and cost-effective forms of exercise out there. You don’t need any special equipment, and with over 300 miles of walking routes, trails and paths, we’re spoilt for choice here in Dorset.
In this article, we’ll be looking at how getting into a regular walking routine can help you achieve your weight loss goals and help you lead a healthier life.
Some people think that in order to lose weight, you need to go running. Truth is, walking to lose weight can be just as effective, especially if you’re walking at a brisk pace.
You don’t have to walk for hours. According to the NHS, a daily 10 minute walk can count towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise. If you increase that to 30 minutes of moderate to fast walking on top of your current activity, you can burn around 100-400 calories, depending on your weight. However, rather than focusing on calories burned while walking, we would recommend making it your aim to walk a certain amount each day at a moderate to fast pace so that you can start incorporating walking in your daily routine.
Make sure you have a comfortable pair of trainers or walking boots which provide adequate support and won’t cause blisters. Check the weather beforehand and ensure you have suitable clothing, i.e. a waterproof jacket if it’s raining, or layers you can easily remove if the weather gets warm. In hot weather, ensure you have sunscreen and a sunhat. If you are walking in the dark, wear reflective clothes for visibility and safety. Some people may also prefer to actively track the number of steps and distance they have walked and use a smart watch, pedometer or an activity tracker app on their phone to keep them informed.
Having unrealistic goals for yourself can set you up for failure, especially when it comes to weight loss. There’s nothing wrong with initially starting out at a gentler pace that suits your current level of fitness. You can gradually increase the number of steps or intensity of your walk as your fitness improves.
A normal walking pace is approximately three miles per hour for most people who don’t walk every single day, but it’s important to note there are different types of walking.
A brisk walk is about three miles an hour, which is faster than a stroll. Walking at this pace increases your breathing and heart rate, and will help you achieve weight loss more effectively than taking a gentle stroll. The free NHS Active 10 app is a useful tool which will advise you if you're walking fast enough and suggests ways to fit in some more brisk walking.
Avoid leaning back or slouching and be sure to maintain a good posture. By keeping your body in an upright position, you will be able to land your feet more lightly. Your heel should hit the ground first before the rest of your foot. Remember that your arms play an important part too. Move them back and forth with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. This can help to burn 5-10 more calories.
Staying hydrated is really important when exercising. If you are going on a longer walk, then remember to take a bottle of water or a sports drink with you. If you are walking long distances, be sure to monitor your body for symptoms of dehydration in order to know when to stop and increase the level of fluids. According to the NHS, these are the most common signs of dehydration:
Walking at any level is beneficial to the body and provides physical and mental health benefits. Choosing to incorporate uphill walking in your routine is a great way to take your activity to the next level and push yourself. Walking uphill regularly will increase the calorie burn and build up your stamina.
If you find it difficult to motivate yourself when it comes to maintaining a regular walking routine, here are some things you can do to help make it a fun part of your day:
Conditions such as depression and anxiety are often linked to obesity and weight gain. Walking can have a positive effect on your mental health by reducing feelings of stress and anxiety, giving you more energy and boosting self-esteem. It can also help to improve the quality of sleep you get, according to a study featured in the Sleep Health journal.
Regular walks can:
Regular walking can and should be fun, although it may be a little challenging at first as you settle into a routine. It is important to take it at a pace that works for you.
If you’re looking to lose weight, a healthy diet is just as important as regular exercise. Here at LiveWell Dorset, we have a number of useful guides and articles on our website with advice on how to eat well.
Take a look at how Julia lost weight after discovering a local Walking Netball group via our Activity Finder tool…and made a new group of friends in the process!
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