And the best part of walking for weight loss? Anyone can do it; walking doesn't involve pricy gym memberships or expensive equipment, all it takes is a pair of sneakers and a healthy does of determination.
There's a lot of conflicting information about whether or not walking for weight loss is an efficient means of weight management. It's true that walking provides a low caloric burn when compared to more vigorous cardiovascular work such as running, biking or swimming; 30 minutes of 'brisk walking' will burn off approximately 100 calories. According to Runner's World magazine, a man who weighs 170 pounds would have to walk at the moderate pace of 3.5 mph for 30 minutes to burn 155 calories; that's not a lot for weight loss. On the other hand, if the same man ran for 30 minutes he would burn off 375 calories, over twice the amount of calories!
All the experts agree that walking for exercise is better than doing nothing at all. Walking can be a terrific way for predominantly sedentary people to ease into an active lifestyle. If you suffer from ankle, knee or hip problems, walking can be an efficient way to start moving without causing pain or further damage. Walking tones the muscles in your legs and gets the circulation pumping through your body, strengthening your heart and all the blood vessels from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
If you want to rely on walking for your weekly exercise, experts say to hit the road for 60 minutes at least three times a week; many more recommend 'most days' or five times per week to maximize the benefits of this low impact exercise. Clip an inexpensive pedometer to your waist to track your distance; this electronic gadget will count your steps for you. Approximately 2,500 steps equals one mile. Another option is to invest in a treadmill; not only can you regulate your distance and speed, but by placing it in front of the TV you can catch up on the morning news.
Walking can be social; join with neighbors and friends or reserve the evening walk for time with your significant other. Pick up an MP3 or CD player and pop in some invigorating music to boost your motivation. Grab a leash and take your dog with you; Fido will appreciate the exercise as much as you!
A number of walking groups organize in communities to bring together all types of walkers, from the advanced 'race walkers' to strolling novices. Join a group to get moving, meet new people, even to sign up to walk a competitive 5K or 10K race. Look for the early morning power walkers gathered on high school tracks, the mall walkers who amuse themselves as they hike through indoor shopping malls by window shopping and people watching, and the new mothers who band together to grab their strollers and go.