When the topic of weight loss comes up, most people think of diets, high-intensity workouts, and expensive gym memberships. Fortunately, there's another way to lose weight that is entirely free, and you can do it whenever you want — walking.
It's a low-impact way to get some physical activity into your day and can even complement more traditional workouts. If you couple some time outdoors on your feet with one of the best fitness trackers, you'll find it easy to monitor your progress as well.
While you could grab your keys and head out for a stroll, especially if you're wearing a pair of the best shoes for walking, you can improve your walking's weight-loss potential with just a few simple hacks.
One of the most straightforward is to head to a local store and pick up a pack of chewing gum. Recent research has found (opens in new tab) that chewing gum while walking increased walking distance, overall step count, speed, heart rate, and total energy expenditure.
Participants were given gum to chew or tablets with the same ingredients but without the gum base. The chewing group saw significant improvements over the tablet-only group, suggesting it was the act of chewing making a difference.
To maximize the impact your walk has on the remainder of your day, it's worth scheduling an early-morning, pre-breakfast outing. Research from the Brigham Young University (opens in new tab) found that 45-minutes of brisk walking increased overall physical activity throughout the day.
Intriguingly, the participants didn't eat more than on non-exercise days to 'make up' the calories they'd burnt during the exercise either. It's also easier to stay motivated first thing, rather than after work when you're tired and may find it easier to put off your exercise.
Walking can also be an excellent way to ease into running or jogging if you see that as the next step in your fitness journey. This even forms the basis of Couch to 5K, a popular exercise programme. Walking and running do work different muscles, but there's a lot of overlap between the two.
For instance, if you want to learn how to start running, it can be helpful to begin with some short walks, gradually building up the total distance over time. Then when you feel ready, you can alternate between jogging and walking, working towards jogging the entire route.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to use walking to lose weight, but you don't have to want to shed pounds to get outside for a stroll. From protecting your mental health to keeping your body healthy, there's no reason you shouldn't see walking as a workout in its own right.
If getting some time outdoors is a challenge, you might want to invest in one of the best treadmills to get your steps in without leaving the house. Those looking to drop pounds could add some of the best exercises for weight loss into your daily routine, too.
James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.
In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.
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