There are indeed no shortcuts or an easy way out to achieve anything in life, especially when it comes to being fit and losing fat. If you're like most people then you've probably thought about getting into a fitness routine several times but haven't gotten around to it. The reason could be not wanting to get a gym membership, finding people with whom you can work out, scheduling workout time, or simply losing the motivation to work out after a few workout sessions.
If you find yourself in this category, there is a good chance that you have overlooked one of the most straightforward and easily accessible methods of getting in shape. It turns out that you can lose weight simply by increasing the amount of time you spend walking, which is something nearly everyone does every day.
Yes, you heard it right. Walking can help you to get in shape and lose weight. Studies show that walking for 45-60 minutes every day can help you lose weight when paired with a restricted-calorie diet. Walking daily for just an hour can easily burn between 250-350 calories depending on your speed, weight, and other factors like terrain.
The most important lesson to take away from this is that any physical activity that helps burn calories will benefit long-term health. So even if you are not putting in the most intense cardio workout possible, getting your heart rate up for as little as 45-60 minutes a day can get you started on the path to lose weight and achieve your fitness goals.
Let's look at some of the significant health benefits that you can get by walking daily...
Improves Your Cardiovascular Health
Walking is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that anyone can do. You must, however, walk at a brisk pace that puts a strain on your heart and lungs (imagine heavy breathing). "Power walking at a brisk pace or uphill is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health and improve your overall fitness.
Helps in Weight Loss
When combined with healthy eating and a caloric deficit diet, regular brisk walking is hugely influential for weight loss, helping you burn off extra calories.
Even if you don't have time to get out for a walk, you can add extra steps to your daily routine by making conscious decisions like-
- Use stairs instead of elevators.
- Park your vehicle a little far away from your destination.
- Walk while taking a call.
- Binge-watch your favorite show on mobile while walking.
- Make an effort of walking for just 5 minutes after every meal.
These tiny changes add up to a significant increase in your daily activity level. Wearing an activity tracker is a great way to keep track of your progress and to help you stay motivated while exercising. To begin, carry on with your daily routine as usual for the first couple of days to establish a baseline of your performance. From there, you can set small goals to increase the number of steps you take each day. You might be surprised at how quickly these seemingly insignificant changes can rack up.
It Can Lower Your Blood Sugar
Whether you have diabetes or are simply looking to improve your blood sugar control, getting into the habit of walking regularly is an effective way to keep your blood sugar at an optimal level. "When you walk at a challenging pace, your muscles will use the glucose in your bloodstream, which, over time and with consistency, as well as a well-balanced diet, will lower your blood glucose levels."
Walking increases the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin, allowing you to fall asleep faster while also sleeping more soundly. In a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University School of Medicine, they investigated the effects of exercise on sleep. Those who engaged in 20 to 30 minutes of walking every day fell asleep 50 per cent faster and stayed asleep for up to one hour longer than those who did not engage in walking at all.
Improves Your Mental Health
Walking is beneficial not only to your physical health but it is also beneficial to your mental health. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, walking has been shown to "help boost your mood and can even help with creative thinking." Like other forms of exercise, walking releases endorphins that can elevate your mood and may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The Bottom Line
Small consistent efforts can bring massive changes.
If you genuinely want to get fit and lead a healthier life, this is the quote you should live by. You don't have to completely ramp up your life upside down and get into an advanced training routine to get fit.
Instead, starting with small changes like walking for 15-20 minutes in a day can bring great results and set you on a path of success. So, start small and keep progressing - that's how you succeed in life and in fitness.
Bond Brill, J., Perry, A., Parker, L., Robinson, A., & Burnett, K. (2002). Dose-response effect of walking exercise on weight loss. How much is enough? International Journal of Obesity,26(11),1484–1493. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0802133
Richardson, C. R., Newton, T. L., Abraham, J. J., Sen, A., Jimbo, M., & Swartz, A. M. (2008). A Meta-Analysis of Pedometer-Based Walking Interventions and Weight Loss. The Annals of Family Medicine,6(1), 69dash&n;77. https://doi.org/10.1370/afm.761