How Much Walking to Lose Weight?
It doesn't matter your age or fitness level, starting a walking routine along with making better food choices can help you lose weight. If you want to do it right and reach your goals, you'll need to make sure you are walking far enough, at the right intensity, and you'll need to make better nutritional choices.
A lot of friends and comments I see online talk about wanting to start losing weight but unable to afford to go to the gym. The thing about losing weight is you don't need a gym. It simply takes moving more and making sure most of your calories come from whole foods.
Related - 10 Tips to Make Walking Great Again
The great thing about starting a walking routine is you can recruit friends, coworkers, or random people to get in shape with. If you opt to walk alone, this is a great time to listen to an audiobook, podcast, or jam out to some music.
So how much walking does it really take to lose weight? Let's find out.
How Long Should I Walk?
To start things off, I'd like to mention that I had ankle surgery in 2009 and I've had problems walking since. In fact, I'm in a boot and on crutches right now. The reason I mention this is because I know some readers have issues walking — whether it is pain, being very out of shape, or scared of what may happen on a walk.
I understand it all. But I want you to know that simply making the effort to walk around your house can and will slowly improve your fitness levels. You don't have to be able to walk miles effortlessly to get healthier — it simply takes doing more than you currently are.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, aiming for around 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day, or 150 minutes per week is adequate. Please note that intensity is determined by the individual, so a speed that is easy for one person could be moderate for another.
If you can start walking 150 minutes per week, you are going to improve your cardiovascular fitness and help combat other health issues. Eventually, you will want to add more walking and strength training to your workouts, but that can be later on.
If you are obese and trying to lose weight or simply trying to keep weight off, try performing around 200 to 300 minutes of exercise per week would be adequate to achieve your weight loss goals.
If your body simply can't take walking for 60 minutes at a time, break it down into smaller, more manageable walks — three walks for 20 minutes is fine.
Any additional time you spend in the gym or getting some physical movement simply adds to your overall calorie burn and improves your fitness levels.
How Intense Should My Walks Be?
How far and how long you walk are both something you can modify to fit your current fitness levels, but the intensity at which you walk needs to be tracked.
It's important that your heart rate reaches a moderate-intensity level when you walk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate-intensity exercise is defined as an activity that raises your heart rate to 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Finding Your Maximum Heart Rate
In order to find your maximum heart rate, you simply need to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 32 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 188 beats per minute.
Your maximum heart rate is important to know because that is your upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during exercise. In order to get the desired results from your walks, you'll need to train within 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Example - 32 years old, 188 beats per minute. Target heart rate while walking would be 94 to 132 beats per minute. After your body is warmed up and ready to walk, you want to maintain a heart rate in this range for your entire walk.
Simply subtract your age from 220, and then multiply that result by 0.5 and 0.7 to get your moderate-intensity heartbeat range. Read more about your target heart rate.
The most accurate way to measure your intensity levels is with a heart rate monitor, but if you don't have the budget for that, you can also use perceived exertion. On a scale of 0 to 10, with sitting being 0 and 10 the highest exertion possible, a moderate intensity would be around a five or six while vigorous activity begins at a 7.
Generally speaking, you should be able to carry on a conversation with some heavy breathing in between. You shouldn't be able to talk as if you were sitting, but you should be able to speak a complete sentence before needing to breathe.
How Do I Choose the Right Foods?
The kitchen is where healthy weight loss starts. Along with calculating and recording your daily steps, mileage, time, and exercise intensity you used, the last part of the equation is your nutrition.
Logging your food intake on paper or through an app like MyFitnessPal gives you an accurate picture of what's going on. You'll see what foods you eat, how much you eat, and your macronutrient breakdown.
This helps you eat the proper portion sizes of food and helps you cut excess calories out of your diet. This will help you maintain a calorie deficit and help you burn body fat and get the body you desire.
If you have trouble coming up with what to eat, simply think whole foods. That doesn't mean you have to eat boiled chicken and steamed broccoli, but that does mean you're going to have to learn how to cook.
Do you really like burritos? Try making your own instead. Add extra fresh veggies, pick a lean protein, and find some flavors that inspire you.
Making better food choices improves how you feel, improves your health, and gives you more control over what you are eating.
Think about this, a McDouble has 390 calories and I could easily eat two and a medium order of french fries. That meal would be around 1,120 calories.
Or, I could have 14 ounces of purple sweet potato, four ounces of tuna, 16 ounces of stir-fried asparagus and three tablespoons of olive oil for 1,141 calories. That was my dinner last night and I could barely finish it.
It's all in the ingredient choices.
So here are some proteins, fats, and carbohydrates you should start getting into your diet.
- Fish - salmon, tilapia, tuna, cod
- Beef - ground beef, steak
- Chicken - rotisserie, boneless skinless breasts and thighs
- Pork - pork loin is cheap and tasty
- Cottage Cheese - great for a nighttime snack
- Whole Eggs - cheap and considered the perfect protein
- Milk - drink or make awesome protein shakes
- Brocolli - cheap and very filling
- Greek Yogurt - add some honey for some extra sweet
- Bacon - do I need to say more?
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Dark Chocolate
- Whole Eggs
- Sweet Potatoes
- White Potatoes
No, the sugar in fruits aren't bad. No, rice isn't bad for you. Yes, you can eat bacon and beef. Yes, you need a variety of vegetables. Yes, you should enjoy cheese and butter in moderation.
Seriously folks, choose whole food sources, measure what you eat, and enjoy all of the foods while you lose weight.