Why is Walking Underrated for Weight Loss?

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Most of my weight loss this time around has been driven by walking, in addition to a healthy diet. Even before the gyms closed due to lockdowns, I would walk during my breaks and before or after class in the evenings. Walking became a time where I could mentally decompress and forget about the world. During lockdown, I would walk for up to two hours every day with the whole family. The walking trails in Reno provide miles of walking paths—with plenty of steep hills to climb for an extra challenge. Walking for one hour can create a calorie burn of 400-500 calories for a person my size and weight, which is a huge amount of calories burn through. In my previous weight loss attempts, I’ve always focused on running and other strenuous activities—as if low impact exercise didn’t burn calories too! Why do we equate weight loss with such intense exercise, such as running? 

I think that weight loss has been framed as such an “extreme” pursuit in our culture that must be achieved through equally extreme means. You want to lose weight? Then you need to eat 500 calories a day and run at least 5 miles in a plastic garbage bag! You want to look good in that bikini this summer? You need to eat two sticks of celery for lunch and go hard on the elliptical for hours every day! Cycling between extreme diet and exercise to the guilt of quitting is so emotionally and physically draining. Why can’t we accept that weight loss can be achieved with sustainable changes over time? Can we get off this teeter totter from hell and just accept that weight loss is work but it doesn’t have to be painful or dangerous? 

Walking can help you lose just as much weight as any other form of exercise and it is much easier to incorporate into your everyday life. Walking can become a great way to bond with your family or pets. Walking can also be done more frequently than other forms of intense exercise without a need for any “rest” days. You can always grab a quick walk on your lunch or work breaks. Walking gives you an excuse to get outside, get some Vitamin D, and fresh air. You can always increase the intensity of your walks by walking on hills or adding resistance training to your walking routine. You can add some tricep dips to your walking routine using a park bench or try adding some body weight lunges or squats. 

You don’t have to get insanely exerted to burn calories or improve your cardiovascular health. If you are new to exercise, walking is a much less intimidating option for beginners. Don’t fall into the trap of extremes! Weight loss, and healthy living in general, requires consistency and using more moderate methods helps you become more consistent over time. Start with short walks and increase the pace, intensity, and duration as you start improving your physical fitness. 

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Remember, be kind to yourself and keep moving forward!

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