Setting Your Walking Fitness Goals
How Walking Can Help You Lose Weight and Get In Shape
Walking elevates your heart rate. This happens when your muscles require more oxygen for energy. Each step you take burns calories. It also helps strengthen and tone your entire body. Your body will turn to your fat stores to create energy, and that’s when the health and fitness changes become visible. There’s nothing more exciting than dropping a clothing size, or two.
If you’re striving to lose weight then walking can be a great way to burn an additional 300 or more calories a day. If you think 300 calories isn’t much, realize that at that rate, with no additional changes to your lifestyle, you’ll lose a pound every ten days. Modify your diet and you can double or triple that number.
You can also burn more walking calories through a variety of tactics.
Your Walking Pace Matters
Increase your pace or the speed you’re walking and you’ll burn more calories. The general rule of thumb to calculate calories burned while walking is that you’ll burn around 100 calories per mile for a 180 pound person and around 65 calories per hour for a 120 pound person. However, if you just increase the pace a bit, the rate of calories burned per hour increases.
For example, the 120 pound person can burn 65 calories per mile at a three mile per hour pace but if they increase their effort to a four mile per hour pace they burn an additional five calories per hour. Crank it up to five miles per hour and that same person burns about 90 calories per hour. Swing your arms when you walk and you add a few calories per mile.
If you’re walking 10,000 steps a day, that averages to about five miles. That’s around 500 calories a day for the 120 pound person walking at a brisk five miles per hour pace and about 650 for the 180 pound person walking at the same fast pace.
So How Do You Know You’re Walking Fast Enough?
The best way to track your pace is to get a fitness tracking device. Sports watches and fitness devices can help identify your current pace using GPS technology. You can also track your effort with a little self-analysis. If you can speak a sentence while you’re walking but it takes effort to get the words out, it’s probably a good fitness pace.
If you can’t complete the sentence, you may be walking too fast. Don’t worry, your fitness will increase over time and you’ll eventually be able to walk quickly without getting out of breath. If you can complete the sentence easily, it’s time to pick up the pace.
Add Oomph to Your Walk
Weights can be added to your walks to increase your calories burned and improve your fitness. There are many different types of weights to consider. For example, you might wear ankle weights to help strengthen your legs.
You could also walk with small dumbbells or wrist weights. There are weighted vests which can carry heavy loads. They’re useful when you’re training for an event or if you really want to take your fitness to the next level.
Music is another way to add oomph to your walk. When you’re walking to a fast beat, it’s easy to fall into pace with the song. Your steps may quickly coincide with the BPM or beats per minute. There are podcasts and fitness mixes that are created specifically for fitness walking.
For example, 120 to 135 BPM is equivalent to about four to five miles per hour. The distance you cover depends on your stride length as well as your foot turnover (how quickly you take your steps).
Get Off The Beaten Path
The surface you walk on also makes a huge difference in the calories you burn and your fitness gains. For example, it’s much easier to walk downhill than to walk uphill, right? That’s because it takes more muscle power to move the same amount of weight against gravity. If you walk in a hilly area, you’ll burn more calories.
Additionally, when you walk on uneven surfaces you require your body to adapt to the changing surface. Each step requires a little more effort and energy from your body. Think about how different it feels to walk on sand versus walking on the sidewalk. Even a gravel path can make a huge difference in the calories you burn and the fitness benefits you gain.
How Long And How Far Do You Have To Walk To Lose Weight?
If you’re starting a walking for fitness program then this is the question that is at the forefront of your mind. You want to know how much, how fast, and how far you have to walk to shed those pounds.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Your results will depend heavily on your diet as well as your effort level. Weight loss isn’t quite as simple as calories in and calories out, but that’s a good place to start. What you eat does matter, but for now let’s focus on calorie reduction combined with a walking for fitness program.
Let’s say that a person weighs 180 pounds. They want to lose 30 pounds and get down to 150. Eating 1,800 calories a day is about enough to maintain health for a female, meaning your body burns 1,800 calories a day without any exercise.
If you add exercise to your day and take 10,000 steps, using the data that we’ve already provided, you know that you’ll burn about 500 calories walking at a moderate pace – remember the rule of thumb about 100 calories per mile for a 180 pound person. After seven days, that adds up to one pound or 3500 calories burned. Double your walking and/or reduce your calories a bit more and you’ll lose more weight.
Keep in mind that it’s unhealthy to drop your daily caloric intake by too much and it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before any calorie restriction measures are taken. It’s also a good idea to get a good bill of health before you start any fitness program. Another general rule of thumb to keep in mind is that one to three pounds of weight loss a week is considered healthy. More than that can introduce potential health risks.
Okay, so you have a few figures to work with and you’re likely calculating your weight loss and fitness goals. Let’s move forward and take a look at how to get started with a walking fitness program.