One of our clients asked us recently, “I’m Walking Every Day but Not Losing Weight – Why?”
Like almost anything, walking can be a wonderful exercise for weight loss, but only if done right. In fact, we are big fans of walking at Motivation as we have seen many clients achieve great results with it – mostly because people enjoy it and the research proves the point that if you enjoy it, you’ll keep it up, which is key. On this note, read our ‘10 Reasons to Love Walking this Autumn’ here.
When Does Walking Not Work so Well?
However, if someone is walking every day and not seeing any results, they simply aren’t burning enough calories (or they are taking too many calories in through their food). Some of us hear that walking 30 minutes a day is ideal. While this is certainly true in terms of the scientific evidence around longevity and heart health, we must remember that this is the minimum required, and that those figures do not relate to weight loss specifically – they relate to general good health.
When it comes to shifting pounds, it’s important to be aware that this amount only adds up to about 3,000 to 5,000 steps a day (depending on how fast you walk, which is crucial to calorie burn too – more on this later). At Motivation, we recommend getting at least 10,000 steps each day (which is about eight kilometres, or five miles). And some clients seem to do particularly well if they regularly achieve a bit over that (aiming for, say, around 12,000 steps each day). Check out the advice over on Diabetes Ireland – exercise is so important.
Walking Speed Counts
Try to borrow or even buy a heart rate monitor. If you are not getting your heart rate up to at least 70 per cent of its maximum for thirty minutes or more, then you are unlikely to see the scale move much at all. That means walking very briskly, arms swinging and propelling forwards, as opposed to ‘sauntering’ as you try to send a text on your phone.
What you want to be achieving is about five kilometres or more in an hour (or higher). If you are on a treadmill and your heart rate is still under the 70 per cent, then increase the speed or put the treadmill on an incline. In terms of the amount of time it will take, if walking at a speed of five kms per hour (three kms per hour), then it would take roughly 1 hour and 35 minutes to complete the daily amount of steps. If you walked more vigorously, this could be reduced to about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
A Question of Time
Many people don’t have this amount of time at their disposal. So alternatives to this would be to shorten the time but increase the intensity – for instance, by walking faster or walking uphill. Others prefer a jog in half the time but, again, it’s not for everyone. I myself alternate things, which is a good way to keep the body challenged too. So I will do hill walks that are 45 minutes maybe twice a week, interspersed with two longer walks of over an hour and, if things are going very well indeed, a pilates or strength-training class at the weekend. Switch it up to get your body building muscle and burning calories.
Look at Your Food
An hour of brisk walking will make your body dip into its fat reserves for energy. But it is very easy to over-replenish those calories with a post-workout snack. A typical full-size energy bar is 300 calories, or about your expected calorie burn for a one-hour walk. Don’t use your walking workouts to justify eating more calories. Remember that you need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. When we first start exercising, we can experience increased hunger or feel that we deserve a food reward for the effort, so try to avoid that. You need to be honest with yourself about how much you really eat. The best way to do that is by recording everything you eat in your daily diary, and then to discuss this with your Motivation Weight Loss Consultant so that they can help you to make positive changes.
To read more about the reasons why you may not be losing weight, read our blog ‘6 Reasons You are Not Losing Weight’ here.
And to ensure that you’re walking enough to assist your weight loss, download our training log and get some more advice on walking for weight loss here.