Walking For Weight Loss and Health
Walking for weight loss is the best plan over all other exercise plans especially for the obese and those with physical limitations. It is a low impact exercise, does not require any type of equipment, and builds health slowly.
What are the benefits of walking rather than joining a gym? Many. Our bodies require movement to be healthy. They don’t need weight training or high-end cardio. They need movement and they need more than fifteen or even thirty minutes a day.
Most of us have sedentary lifestyles now. Our jobs dictate that. Our family is less interested in going for a hike on Sunday than sitting around checking everyone’s status on Facebook or watching the latest game. I’m not dissing on your life. I’m saying our lifestyles are not how our bodies were designed to live.
It takes many generations for the human body to evolve and become adapted to lifestyle changes.
We so are not at the point where we can just sit around and have our bodies thrive without movement. Our foremothers and fathers led mostly labor intense lives. Our bodies are designed for that hard work, for that constant hard work. And we wonder how so many of us became obese.
Walking is time-consuming, or at least it should be. It is a load bearing exercise which builds stronger bones, especially hips, it works our abdomen and helps with digestion. It also becomes a natural pump for our lymphatic system. There is no real downside to walking.
For weight loss, you need to walk for cardio
Everyone needs to walk for health, but for weight loss that walking needs to engage your lungs and heart. Well, it should for health as well. Walking builds stamina which a healthy body needs.
If you follow the rule that you should be able to laboredly talk and not sing while walking you will be giving your body the burn it needs to dissolve the fat and the increased stamina it needs for overall health.
Why not harder cardio?
There are two types of cardio. Aerobic and Anaerobic.
Aerobic exercise is defined as exercise done in a continuous and rhythmic pattern. It utilizes oxygen and extracts energy from amino acids, carbohydrates, and fat.
Anaerobic exercise is defined as intense short intervals of exercise. It does not utilize inhaled oxygen as it extracts energy from contracted muscle.
So, all this hype about 14-minute workouts each day is not the way to lose weight or build stamina. Neither are those intense 30-minute cardio classes.
Think of fat burn like a furnace
You add the kindling, let it get a nice set of coals and then put on the log for a long-term burn. This is how I see walking. The first half hour is about setting up that hot seat of coals. Everything after that is big fat burn. Once your body uses up its store of glycogen (carbohydrates) it goes for the fat. If you stop the walking before that then you aren’t getting efficient fat burn. Instead, your body will take the carbs and proteins your eating to replenish the glycogen stores. See how that will slowly use up your kindling pile but never touch the woodpile? It’s the same for fat.
Long walks done with effort will always give the best burn. We’ve watched that happen for over 12 years at Raw Food Boot Camp.
Walking is Boring and Not Sexy at all!
Everyone complains about having to walk. They want to get to that gym, do something exciting, lift weights and become powerful or become graceful with yoga.
While all these things are great and do benefit the body, they do not give the fat burn overweight individual needs and do not give the stamina and lung capacity we all need for vascular health.
Boring is good. If you don’t think about being bored. Use your walking time as a get together with friends, a time for contemplation, or as a time to think through things. Make yourself a dynamite playlist or get some audio books. And whenever you can take that walk outside and enjoy nature which is also good not just for your body, but your soul!
My knees are no good. Walking for weight loss won’t work.
Because we work with the obese at Raw Food Boot Camp, knees are a big issue. As are feet, plantar fasciitis, and just painful legs. Walking hurts.
For most it’s not an issue of not walking, it’s an issue of not being able to join camp and do 2 hours of walking a day or even an hour. Some can’t even do ten minutes when they join.
For these women, I point to Jan. Jan showed us all that if you start slow, you can build up as you lose weight and get your body to the point that you can walk, that you can have improved stamina and endurance.
She started with multiple 2 to 3 minute walks a day from her chair in the living room to the kitchen back through the dining room to her chair. In a month and a half, she went from believing she needed a wheelchair to walking a 5K with a cane and her granddaughter. At 4 months, she walked a 10K without her cane.
When I started, I started with six 10 minute walks a day until my body screamed to do more.
Yes, there are some who cannot walk. I won’t argue that but I will say that if you can walk at all, you should be able to build your body up maybe not for 2 hours a day of walking, but for 45 minutes even if that is a few months down the road.
Don’t push too hard in the beginning. Go with what your body can handle with a slight push each day for just one more step, one more lamppost. You will be surprised by how your body wants to thrive. But if you sit there shaking your head or saying okay tomorrow, tomorrow, then you will never know the true benefits of walking for weight loss and more importantly, walking for health.