If you follow one of Fit With Iulia's goal-focused workout programs then you may have noticed that a majority of it consists of strength training with a mix of cardio for those who are trying to attain weight loss/fat loss goals. That's because anyone training to build muscle, strength, or lose fat should have some type of cardio integrated into their routine.
One of the easiest ways to integrate cardio into your routine for cardio haters is by implementing a walking routine! Despite popular belief, you don't need to constantly do high-intensity cardio to promote weight loss and get better results. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and running is great form of physical activity that gets your heart rate pumping and your body sweatin', but it can lead to overworking yourself if you do it too often. Plus, not everyone can perform (or even enjoy) high-impact and high-intensity exercise. Keep things simple and low-impact so you're not overworking your muscles and joints by creating your very own walking for weight loss plan!
The question is... How does one start walking for weight loss?
Keep on reading as we guide you through the benefits of walking and give you details on how to lose weight by walking so you can develop an effective walking routine!
Benefits of walking
Many wonder, "can walking help you lose weight?". The answer is yes!
Weight loss through walking is completely possible, but there are other benefits that come with it. One of the biggest benefits of walking is that it's free and doesn't require special expertise or equipment! You can hit the outdoors and go on a brisk walk whenever, no need to wait around for a treadmill at the gym. Aside from that, walking has some pretty impressive health benefits, here are some of our favorites:
- It's low impact – Don't mistake low impact for low intensity. Low impact cardio can still help you burn a good amount of calories and it can easily be adjusted to be a moderate to high-intensity workout. Low impact simply means that it's suitable for anyone who may be prone to injuries. So, if you're doing other high-impact activities, like heavy weight lifting, then walking is good low-impact cardio to incorporate because it won't add further stress/strain to your body that can lead to an injury.
- It improves your cardiovascular health – Fortunately, you don't need to run every day to reap the heart-healthy benefits of cardio! Walking at a brisk pace or power walking in a way that challenges your heart and lungs is a great and easy way to boost your cardiovascular health and burn more calories!
- It can help add definition to your legs – If you're following the Fit With Iulia Build a Booty workout program then add some brisk walking into your routine a few times a week! Walking at a fast pace for two to four miles is a great way to increase muscular strength and endurance in your legs while adding some definition to them. Add an incline, like hiking or adjusting the inclination on the treadmill, which will really help strengthen and tone your glutes, hamstrings, and calves while walking downhill can help target your quads more.
- It increases your bone density – Aside from helping you tone your legs, walking at a fast pace can help increase bone density! The bones are being pulled as your muscles contract, so when you're walking at a fast pace and at an incline your body starts to lay down more minerals to help support the muscles thus increasing bone density.
- It can strengthen your immune system – Walking can even come in handy during cold and flu season! Research shows that walking for 30 minutes can increase the activity of your body's white blood cells, thus boosting your immune system's defenses. Plus, if you're walking outdoors you have the added benefit of getting some sun and vitamin D! Vitamin D is known to have so many wonderful health benefits that include keeping your immune system strong. So, if you can walk outdoors!
How much do you need to walk for weight loss?
Not all walks are created equal! Walking for 15 minutes at a slow pace is probably not the best way to burn fat and lose weight. To create a walking for weight loss plan you should aim to up the intensity a bit and make sure to do enough of it to burn a sufficient number of calories.
So, what's the best way to walk for weight loss?
Many tend to focus on the number of steps, specifically 10,000 steps... Well, your daily steps aren't as important as you think. 10,000 steps was just a number made up for marketing purposes! It was used as a way to market fitness trackers. Although walking 10,000 steps isn't bad, research suggests we don't need to walk that much to improve our health and lose weight.
Instead, focus on the intensity of your walk! If you want to walk for weight loss you should aim to have your heart rate reach a moderate-intensity level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this means raising your heart rate to 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.  So, you want to walk fast enough that you're in that zone. Having a heart rate monitor or any type of fitness watch or pedometers will help, but if you don't then there's a way you can tell if you're within that range... Just be aware of your body and your breathing!
You should be breathing harder than usual, but still able to talk (not sing). Aim to go on a brisk walk for 30 to 90 minutes for four to five days per week, or at least 150 minutes a week. So, if one day you can only fit in a 15-minute outdoor walk, then you can compensate for it by adding more time on another day. However, if you want to burn fat it's suggested to walk at a brisk pace for longer than 30 minutes at a time – but if this is too much at first, then start slow! For those new to working out, steadily increase your walking speed and time over time that way you don't stress your body too much at once and instead help it grow stronger in a healthy and safe manner.
4 tips to maximize your walking workouts
Like any other form of exercise, it's best to have a plan that will help maximize your effort and results. Aside from listening to your favorite podcast or music playlist to get you pumped for your walk, here are four ways to establish a walking routine that will maximize your weight loss efforts!
Walking may be low-impact, but that doesn't mean you should neglect to warm up! You'll be walking at a fast pace, and some may choose to walk on an incline, so prepare your body for the movement it's about to do. To reduce your risk of injury, focus on mainly dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches involve active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion thus helping improve your mobility.
Before you begin walking, do a few static stretches, like the quadriceps stretch or hamstrings stretch. And then spend a few minutes warming up dynamically by doing some toe raises, heel raises, ankle push out, leg swings, etc. Any movements that help warm up and prep the muscles in the lower body. As you begin on your walk, spend the first 5 minutes gradually increasing your walking pace and intensity.
Maintain good form
Maintaining proper exercise form doesn't only relate to strength training! You should try to maintain good form and posture throughout your walking workout. A rounded or slummed posture or even hyperextending your back can add stress to your joints and cause back pain.
For proper walking form, stand upright making sure that your head is centered over your body with your shoulders pushed slightly back so that your chest remains open. Avoid extending your chin forward and overarching your lower back. As for your arms, maintain a natural bend in your elbows and allow your arms to swing in a natural rhythm – don't force it or over-exaggerate your swings. And don't forget to focus on your body when your move! Your lower body will already be engaged, but you can also try to engage your core as you would lifting weights! This will help to add some support to your spine while also strengthening your core.
Add an incline
We highly suggest starting slow on your new walking endeavor, but after a few days of adjusting, add some incline to your walks! Walking uphill, like hiking or using a treadmill on an incline, will help you to naturally shorten your stride which will help you focus on pushing down through your glutes. Thus helping you build more definition in your lower body!! Plus, adding an incline will increase the intensity of your walk without having to increase your speed or duration. So, if you're short on time, but want to get a good walk in then increase the incline to a level that fits you.
As for your posture, avoid leaning too forward because it'll strain your back. Instead, lean only slightly forward while keeping your shoulders back and chest open.
Watch your diet
Weight loss is possible with walking, but you can't expect it to be the only change you make! To achieve weight loss or any fitness goals, eating a healthy and nutrient-dense diet is a must. So, aside from going on 30 minute walks a few times a week, make sure you're in a calorie deficit! A good way to ensure that you are and that you're eating enough nutrients to support your goals, track your macros as opposed to only your calorie intake. Tracking macros involves tracking your carbs, fat, protein, and calories. Doing this helps you get a better picture of how much you're actually eating, and ensure that you're not overeating or undereating.
To find the best macros for you, use the Fit With Iulia Macro Calculator! We'll calculate your macros for you based on a series of important questions, and once you get your macros you can use the Fit With Iulia app to track what you eat!
In summary, walking can help you achieve your weight loss goals, as long as you know how to implement it to maximize your results – and now you do! For best results, we suggest that walking be a secondary form of exercise you follow on top of a high-intensity workout routine like strength training. And in case you need some help getting started with strength training or want to start tracking your macros in an easy and sustainable way then download the Fit With Iulia app to activate your 7-day free trial!