May is national walking month in the UK with various different schemes such as “Walk to School” week and Living Streets asking people to #try20 – walk for 20 minutes daily.

 

Why is walking so important and how much benefit can it add to your overall health and fitness and indeed your weight – can you really walk the weight off?

 

In the simplest of answers yes you can walk the weight off.  But let’s look first at some of the specifics of walking.

 

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, anyone can take part in walking.  You don’t need fancy kit, expensive gym memberships or loads of time.  You can add walking into your everyday life very easily – you just need a good pair of comfy shoes or trainers and you’re all set to go.  All those thoughts about getting off the bus or tube a stop earlier or parking further from the shops, does indeed increase your overall activity level.

 

The health benefits of walking are numerous.  Regular walking can reduce your risk of several major diseases by 50% such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  Walking can also lessen stress levels, boost self esteem and improve your sleep.  Good quality sleep and reducing stress are vital ingredients in the weight loss mix…..

 

Government guidelines suggest that we should aim for 2 ½ hours of moderate intensity activity 5 times a week.  That’s 30 minutes walking 5 times a week or 20 minutes every day.

 

I think this is a great guideline but if that seems a bit too much in one go, why not break it down to 15 minutes twice a day?  Or 10minutes, 3 times a day?  The biggest thing is always getting started and then sticking with it.

 

Now on to the multimillion dollar question….  Can walking alone aid weight loss?  Yes, in the simplest of terms if you are expending more energy by walking and this equates to more energy than you are putting in (eating), you will be in a calorie deficit and lose weight.

 

Let’s say you build up your walking to the recommended 10,000 steps a day and start to burn 250 calories extra per day.  That adds up to ½ a pound per week.  Make some small tweaks to your eating patterns and lessen calories by 250 per day and that’s 1 pound per week.  Don’t think you need to buy a fancy Fitbit or gizmo, a good old fashioned battery operated pedometer works just as well and can be found in stores like Argos for a fiver.

 

Is it that easy, I hear you ask?  Well yes, and no. If you currently do no exercise at all or are starting off, walking is brilliant (for the reasons mentioned above).  If you exercise in other ways, bringing in some walking for your cardio vascular health will definitely add benefit too.  But as you do lose weight you need to a) keep changing your diet (as you need fewer calories) and b) increase your activity to achieve the physical shape and tone we all desire.  That doesn’t mean you should stop walking, just perhaps look to bring in additional exercise.

 

Overall I believe as a nation we have become more sedentary.  We just don’t move in the same way that we did years ago – we have more transport options than before = less walking, we have more electric gadgets and devices, e.g. remote control = less walking, we have less physical jobs = less walking.  As kids, we used to walk everywhere and play out.  Society has changed and we too.

 

My final thoughts are, walking is great for your overall health and wellbeing and will definitely aid in your weight loss efforts.  So, go and find a pair of comfy shoes, boots or trainer and get out there and give it a go.

 

Thanks for reading – please let me know what you think, comment below or drop me an email lisa@lisaalicoach.com