Walking Your Way to Weight Loss

A group of three multi-ethnic women exercising in the park, talking and laughing as they power walk, carrying water bottles. The mature woman with black hair is in her 50s. Her friends are senior women in their 60s.

Eating a healthy diet is bedrock for long-term health and wellness, but it’s not enough to keep you trim and toned. For people who don’t have time or money to hit the gym every day, walking offers a free and enjoyable way to slim down and stay in shape. Walking is also one of the gentlest forms of cardiovascular exercise yet it’s still , so it’s good for maintaining bone density.

If you’re serious about losing weight, a simple way to use walking to slim down is to aim for burning 500 calories per day every day.

One pound of fat comprises 3,500 calories, so if you walk off 500 each day you’ll lose around a pound a week. Double up your workout one day if you want to have a day off that week.

There is a catch. Five hundred calories is more than you think and taking the dog for a walk around the block isn’t going to burn anywhere near that amount. One of the main reasons people do not lose weight is overestimating how hard they’re working out and underestimating how much they eat. So, if you want to get to five hundred calories you’re going to have to use some tricks.

Add an Incline

A 165-pound person burns only 225 calories walking for an hour at a moderate pace of 3mph. But that’s okay, because if you add an incline to your walking workouts you burn up to 50 percent more calories. Examples of inclines include hills, stairs, and a 7 percent incline on a treadmill. You’re going to want to work up to this though depending on how fit you already are.

Pick up the Pace

If you don’t live anywhere with hills and don’t like stairs, another option is to pick up the pace. Walking at a brisk pace of 4.5 mph for an hour burns 472 calories for a 165-pound person. Throw in a few extra minutes or some stairs at the end and you’ll get to your 500 mark. Or, just go a tiny bit faster. Walking at just 0.2 mph faster, or 4.7 mph, burns as many calories as running.

Kick it Up Nordic Style

For people who aren’t fans of brisk walking or hills, there’s a third option: walking poles. Nordic walking is all the rage in Scandinavia, but it isn’t too hard to find a Nordic skier machine in the US because it’s an effective method of exercise.

Using the walking poles like ski poles mimics the motion of a skier machine and isn’t that different from cross-country skiing. That’s what you’ll be telling the neighbors anyway. Also, be sure to tell them you burn around 20 to 45 percent more calories walking this way, which means you could enjoy a somewhat leisurely speed of 3.5 mph on flat ground and get your 500 calories out of the way in an hour.

Running Intervals

Perhaps you’re thinking you need something faster for days when you only have 30 minutes to exercise.   This is possible, but you’ll have to add some intervals. Intervals are when you include some higher intensity periods into your workout routine.

After a gentle five-minute warm-up of walking leisurely, sprint for one minute and then walk for two minutes. Repeat this 10 to 12 times and then walk slowly for five minutes as a cool-down. That should burn around 500 calories, but the more you weigh the more you burn.

These are four effective options to help you slim down consistently through walking. However, before you start any workout program, or significantly increase your regular exercise program, talk to your doctor. Also, if walking for an hour straight is too intense, do 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening.


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