Click aquí para ver este artículo en español
Hey Life Warriors!
One of our mantras is that we have a certain (great) tendency to complicate our lives unnecessarily. Is it better to train in the morning or in the afternoon? When should I drink my protein shake? Should I separate macronutrients? Is drinking milk good or bad? And the same thing happens when we talk about exercise: will doing cardio on an empty stomach make me lose muscle? how many different angles should I train my pecs from? is the split routine better or the full body? … and so we get into a paralysis of analysis that prevents us from acquiring a habit and being consistent with it. Instead, every week we want to try a new thing, a new supplement or a new workout and hope for a miracle to happen, while we overlook one of the easiest, simplest and most affordable tools we have: walking for weight loss.
This is especially true when it comes to weight loss. There is no other business that offers so many options that don’t work, and that exploit that blind faith we have in the impossible miracle (that’s why it’s a miracle) of effortless weight loss.
Our position about weight loss is simple:
- You have to create a calorie deficit. Without this, nothing you do is going to work.
- You have to be patient; sustainable weight loss will take time. You can lose weight faster (here’s how) but this is a crash plan, it’s not sustainable in the long term.
- Exercise can help, as it will increase your calorie expenditure and get you into deficit more easily, but more is not better, as high intensity coupled with lower calorie intake will do more harm than good (poor recovery, increased cortisol levels, possible injury… don’t do it).
However, as mentioned above, there is something that we almost always overlook and that can be our greatest ally walking for weight loss.
Why is walking so important?
- Walking is one of the activities for which our body is evolutionarily best adapted. For thousands of years, humans have carried out most of their daily activities by walking. We have walked in search of game or fruit to gather, for centuries we have walked to get to our place of work, many professional activities, especially those related to the field, have required us to walk… we were designed to walk and that is how we are made: we are the only mammals that are 100% bipedal.
- Walking is a low-intensity activity that predominantly uses fat as fuel. Make no mistake, it is still advisable to strength train if you want to lose weight, but walking is the best possible complement to training. It does not cause great stress to the nervous system or to muscles, tendons and ligaments. On the contrary, it relaxes us and helps us recover. In addition, walking will add a few calories to our daily expenditure. A one-hour walk will burn between 200 and 300 calories, which is not a negligible amount. You can calculate your approximate expenditure here
- Walking combines the benefits of physical activity (improves cardiovascular health, helps reduce blood pressure, improves cognitive functions) with the benefits of outdoor exposure (natural vitamin D synthesis, reduced cortisol levels, improved short-term memory…). And it’s free!
- Walking will make you skip useless activities (watch TV, social media, etc.) and gives you back that time so you can dedicate it to really useful stuff: listen to podcasts that make you learn something, meditate, have interesting conversartions with your partner… just think about how many great things you could do with that additional hour!
How much should I walk?
This is a frequently asked question that does not have a universally accepted answer. What is clear is that you should set a target and measure it daily (what you don’t measure, you can’t improve). A good starting goal might be 7,000 steps, and from there try to reach the classic 10,000 steps. You can measure your steps with a pedometer, a smart watch, an activity tracker or simply with your mobile phone, either with the typical native phone apps or with other specific apps such as runtastic, pacer, strava, etc.
In my case, I am measuring it with a Garmin watch; this is my last week (writing this on Friday at 7:00AM). As you can see, I am around 12,000 daily steps, so if you are thinking that a Life Warrior is too busy to walk… think again 😉
How can I find the time to walk?
There are many ways to do it. Depending on your personal situation, some of them will be easier than others:
- The most direct way is assigning some daily time to it: early in the morning, during your lunch break, after work…
- If taking one hour in those moments is not an option, you can break your walking time into shorter ones, of 10-20 minutes, so you can take a short walk before work, another short one during lunch break and another one after work. The key is hitting your total daily target; it doesn’t martter if you do it all at once or in many short walks.
- You can park at a certain distance from your work place, so you will have to walk before and after work. If you are using public tansport, you can get off one or two stops before yours and walk the remaining part. You can also walk around until your bus or metro arrives.
- If your work includes phone calls, you can walk while you talk
Summarizing, if you want to give a boost to your weight loss efforts or simply enjoy all the benefits we have shared with you (increased wellness, better recovery, better mood…) put on your sneakers and take a walk!!