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Top Tips to Lose Weight By Walking

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.


Will I lose weight walking?


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.

How much do I need to walk to lose weight?

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. 

Five walking tips to lose weight

1. Wear the right gear

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.

2. Pace yourself

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. 

Different paces of walking

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. 

  • Leisure walking - this type of walking is usually performed at a slow pace. Whether you are taking a stroll at the beach or enjoying an evening walk with your dog, a calm and relaxing walk can have many benefits. It could be a good way to introduce walking to your routine and create a habit and also could be beneficial for people recovering from knee injuries.

  • Brisk walking - walking faster than your usual walking speed is known as brisk walking. This type of activity offers various benefits, including but not limited to: weight loss, improving caridivacuals fitness and strengthening your bones and muscles.

  • Power walking -  this type of walking is a more advanced version of brisk walking. Whilst this type of activity will help with weight loss, it is important to note that speed is not the only factor at play. Adopting a good technique will ensure that you maximise the benefits of the exercise and prevent injuries. Speed or power walking is the fastest pace of all and can be up to five miles an hour. This tends to be for more advanced walkers, so once walking is a well established part of your routine, you can consider stepping your pace up to this level.

How do I know if I'm walking fast enough?

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.

How should I be 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. 

3. Stay hydrated

hydration

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: 

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling dizzy and lightheaded
  • Experiencing dryness in your mouth, lips, and eyes

4. Walk on an incline 

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.

5. Staying motivated

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:

  • Schedule it as part of your daily routine - if you get into the habit of treating  walking as an automatic "must-do" on your daily list (like brushing your teeth or playing Wordle), then it will become a more natural, engrained process. 
  • If you don’t have much spare time for walking, you can still make it part of your daily routine by:
    • Walking to work or parking further away from your work or house.
    • Always using the stairs instead of the lift
    • Walking the kids to school
    • Taking a 20 minute walk during your lunch break or after dinner
  • Listen to Music or your favourite podcast - putting together a playlist of your favourite upbeat songs can be a great motivator for your daily walk and can also help to maintain a steady, brisk pace. If you are a fan of podcasts and love listening to insightful conversations on your walk, that could be a great way to track time and also learn something new while you are out exercising. 
  • Walking can be a great social physical activity - taking along a friend (of the two or four-legged variety) can make it less monotonous. You could also consider joining a walking group.  Here at LiveWell Dorset, we have a handy Activity Finder tool you can use to search for local walking groups near you.
  • Reward yourself! If you reach your target step count for the week or month, treat yourself to something you really enjoy - a little bribery goes a long way!
  • If you’re looking for further inspiration, you can find other ways to stay motivated on our blog: how to motivate yourself to workout.

Other health benefits of walking

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:

  • Strengthen muscles and bones - walking is a great way to improve bone health and strengthen muscles, as it is a weight bearing exercise.
  • Improve circulation - walking increases the heart rate and lowers the blood pressure. 
  • Increase energy levels - a short walk could be the thing you need to boost your energy and fight fatigue. 
  • Help prevent the development of certain health conditions.

Final thoughts

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. 

Register with us today or get in touch with our team who will be more than happy to offer some further information and help you on your weightloss journey.

Looking for further inspiration?

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!

Ivan

I drank too much alcohol and had unhealthy eating habits. Pastry is such a bad thing, it's all those pies, pasties and sausage rolls!

View full story

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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