image of couple walking on beach

Walking for Exercise and Weight Loss

There are many good reasons to walk. One of the most common is walking for exercise and weight loss. But, even if you aren’t concerned with losing weight, walking is simply a great way to get fit. In fact, it’s on my list of Overall 5 Best Exercises

Advantages of Walking

If you’re looking for options of activities for exercise, walking is one to consider because of these benefits:

  • Weight bearing: Exercises where you are supporting your own weight and propelling it forward have advantages over non-weight-bearing activities such as cycling and rowing. The reason is because when you are supporting your own weight, you are using more muscle and therefore will burn more calories. You have to work much harder to accomplish the same benefits when you are sitting.
  • Good for your cardiovascular system: Walking is great for getting your heart pumping. It helps get the oxygen-rich blood out to your leg muscles. This keeps your heart strong and helps lower blood pressure.
  • It’s free: Although many people go to health clubs just to walk on a treadmill, if you have nice weather, you can accomplish the same goals outside.
  • Easy and fun: Walking for weight loss is something that we all know how to do. And, if done with a group or friend, can be very enjoyable. If you’d rather be alone, you might prefer to listen to your favorite music.
  • Doesn’t take much to get started: A decent pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothes is all you need. I’d suggest avoiding cotton clothes as it doesn’t dry very well as you start to sweat. Modern wicking, polyester is a good choice.

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Disadvantages of Walking

  • Ironically, although the fact that it’s weight-bearing is listed as an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage if you have any joint problems.  If that’s the case, you may need to do non-weight-bearing exercises instead.
  • Although walking can get you fit and keep you fit, if you are looking for a seriously lean body, you will need to increase the intensity as you get more fit. Walking is tough to do that. Walking faster and faster can get uncomfortable. Hills might be your next option. Graduating to jogging would be another option.
  • Adding to the above point, there is evidence that our bodies get too adapted to walking for weight loss and require variety to sustain weight loss. You might consider a variety of exercises instead of only walking. You might also consider an exercise program.

image of a couple walking for exerciseHow to Start

If you are just beginning, keep the speed to that which is comfortable at first. I’d suggest starting with 30 minutes every other day until you get past any soreness and aches. If after that, you want more, then you can start adding a day per week.