No time to go to the gym but want to lose weight? Why not try an exercise form that you can do at anytime and anywhere? Brisk walking.
Walking may seem dull when compared to other calorie-busting cardio forms, but research continues to back it as a critical component of a weight loss programme. An hour’s walk every day can help burn off half a pound every week without dieting!
Lucy Knight, the fitness trainer and author of Walking for Weight Loss, calls walking a “refreshing alternative to complicated aerobic routines and overpriced gym memberships”. “It’s free, enjoyable and already a part of everyday life. All you need to do is correct your technique, walk faster and for longer and you will lose weight,” she says.
There’s plenty of scientific evidence to back this up.
- Research at the University of Pittsburgh has revealed that overweight people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost weight without any other lifestyle changes.
- Researchers at London School of Economics and Political Science, have found that out of all moderate-intensity activities, brisk walks were responsible for having the highest effect on weight loss.
- Another study out of the United States found that people who walked for at least four hours a week gained less weight – an average nine pounds less – than their sedentary counterparts as they got older.
Apart from weight loss, regular brisk walking can help control blood pressure, and the risk of type 2 diabetes, peripheral artery disease and osteoporosis.
Master the brisk walk
You need to perfect your power-walking technique to burn fat quickly and effectively. Here’s how you do it:
- Stand tall, your arms by your sides and pull in your navel towards your spine to engage your core.
- Focus your eyes five to six metres ahead, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and cup your hands if you need to, instead of clenching your fists.
- Lead with the heel and take a step forward with your right foot and follow with the left foot. Your arms should move in opposition, left arm forward, right hand back, and vice versa.
- Transfer weight through the heel of your right foot and keep going.
- Time your breathing with the movements, get into a pattern with a specific number of steps.
How much should I walk?
Health experts recommend that everyone walks 10,000 steps a day to stay fit; this means about 8 km depending on your stride and speed. But on an average, most of us are sedentary and clock in about 4,500 steps a day. If you want to lose weight by walking, you would need to get up to 16,000 steps a day. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates a minimum of 150 minutes of brisk walking every week.
How fast should I walk?
The CDC defines brisk walking as “being at a pace of three miles per hour or more”, meaning 5 km per hour or 12 minutes per km. However, fitter people would do well to stick to a brisker pace – 6.5 km per hour or 9 minutes 15 seconds per km.
How do I start?
Begin with these workout plans, depending on your level of fitness, and aim to increase the duration of your walk by five minutes every two weeks, and the intensity, by walking faster.
- Monday to Saturday Walks 10 minutes at a moderate pace.
- Sunday Walk slowly for 20 minutes.
- Monday Rest.
- Tuesday to Friday Walk for 25 minutes at a moderate pace one day, 30 minutes the next.
- Saturday Walk briskly for 20 minutes.
- Sunday Walk 45 minutes at a moderate pace.
- Monday Rest.
- Tuesday to Friday Walk 45 minutes at a moderate pace one day and 50 minutes the next day.
- Saturday Walk 50 minutes at a fast pace.
- Sunday Walk 60 minutes at a moderate pace.
Mix things up
Changing the terrain by going up inclines and coming downhill will speed up calorie burning. Try walking on surfaces like mud, sand or grass to expend more energy. Pumping hand weights as you walk works your biceps while strapping on a backpack increases calorie burn. Once you’ve mastered the brisk walk, consider walking for 5 minutes and running for 1 minute. Also, try these walking tips to lose weight. You’ll soon be keen to try out 20-minute workouts that you can fit into the busiest of busy days!