Going out for a nice long walk can be a fantastic way to clear your head and get some fresh whilst raising your heart rate and increasing lung capacity. If your main aim is to burn calories, then there’s always a treadmill if it’s cold and raining. The treadmill has the additional bonus of being able to control the speed and incline while also being able to track calories burnt and distance covered.
Walking is an exercise that can be done by most people, but how effective is it for weight loss? I will look at three positives and three negatives when it comes to walking for weight loss.
1 – Creating a calorie deficit
Walking, just like any other exercise will burn calories. The most important factor in weight or fat loss is that you need to be in a caloric deficit (burn more calories than you expend on a daily basis) in order to lose weight and walking can help towards creating a deficit.
2 – Low impact
Walking is low impact in comparison to running or other cardio type exercises and therefore a safer way to exercise for people who have injuries (such as joint issues) or who are very overweight.
3 – Fast recovery time
In comparison to activities like weights, hill sprints or circuit training where you may be aching for a couple of days after (DOMS), walking is much less taxing and easier to recover from so is something you can do on a daily basis.
1- Not time efficient
In order to burn enough calories to be effective, you generally are going to have to walk for a long time, such as 45 mins to an hour. This is where something intense like HIIT training, which can be done in 15-20 mins is a better use of time.
2 – Low post exercise thermogenic effect
Because of the low intensity, the after burn of calories and overall impact on metabolism is very low in comparison to HIIT training and weights which have a much more dramatic effect on the number of calories burnt way after the training session has finished.
3- Negative impact on resting metabolic rate
There are a lot of studies out (Harvard Medical Research) now showing that walking or doing any slow-paced cardio for hours every day, can make it harder in the long run to lose weight and more specifically burn fat (but by changing the variables such as speed or incline than you can stop this from happening) and that the body can become dependent on maintaining this level of exercise in order to maintain keeping body fat down.
Walking is not the most effective way of burning fat that’s a fact. The most effective is a combination of weight training with higher levels of cardio vascular intensity. However, it will help you to create a calorie deficit and if you are suffering with injuries then it may be best choice for you coupled alongside weight training. If you are injury free, try and alternate between days of doing high intense cardio and days of walking or doing lower intensity cardio. By all means get outside and enjoy some fresh air as the mental benefits of a long walk are just as important as the fitness gains you are trying to achieve.