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By Jennifer Roche

Monday, July 2, 2012.

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is “Does Walking Help You Lose Weight?” Well, I am happy to say that it does and is one of the easiest ways to get in shape. There are many benefits to walking but, here are some of the most important ones:

Increases your circulation, heart rate and respiration, thus building a healthier heart and lungs.

Eases stress levels and is beneficial to the mind as well as the body.

A brisk walk before/after a meal can boost your metabolism, burn calories and improve digestion of food.

Regular walking improves muscle tone, endurance and fitness levels.

Boosts mobility after an illness or operation and can be a good way to start building to more strenuous activities.

“So how do I get started?” You might ask. The good news is you can start any time. There is no financial outlay, you don’t need any special equipment and it’s absolutely free. Whether you are a couch potato, a desk jockey or a full-on fitness junkie, walking is the one activity that everyone at any fitness level can do.


Of course, if you want to see results, you need to be consistent. That means making the commitment to walk a few times a week. The recommended daily walking distance is 5 miles a day or 10,000 steps. That may seem like a tall order starting off but you can start at your own pace and work up to that. Sure, it might be a chore forcing yourself out the door in the beginning but once you get into the habit of walking regularly, you will come to enjoy it and will soon be looking forward to it. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your walking regime:

  • Dress comfortably. That means ditching the heels and wearing shoes that are comfortable on your feet. Wear a waterproof jacket in case of showers but keep it light so you don’t sweat too much. Make sure you have pockets to keep your hands free because you will want to swing those arms when you walk to burn more calories.
  • Keep it brisk. Walking at a brisk pace means you will be working that bit harder and getting your blood pumping. You won’t burn enough calories to lose weight if you stroll. If you have trouble with this, take along a music player and listen to some up-tempo music to help you keep a steady pace.
  • Watch your step: A pedometer is invaluable in helping you keep tabs on how many steps you have taken. Many phones come with this fantastic little app or can be downloaded free. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can buy a pedometer very cheaply in most sports and fitness stores. After a while, you will find yourself trying to beat your record and pushing yourself further each time.
  • Take a friend. Walking with a friend or family member will make the experience double the fun. Instead of meeting your buddy in the coffee shop, switch the venue to the local park and catch up on all the gossip as you walk. If you have a four-legged friend give them some exercise too. .
  • Stay hydrated. You will get thirsty as you walk, especially in the summer months. Take a bottle of water along with you and sip as you go. .
  • Stay safe. Always let someone know where you are going and how long you will be away for. Don’t walk anywhere lonely. .
  • Prioritise your walking. Everyone needs a little ‘me time’ and your walks can be invaluable when you need some time away from the demands of work and family. Use this time to mentally tackle anything that’s on your mind. Exercise is a great de-stresser and by the time you return home, you will feel much better.

Walking is one of the easiest and most effective ways to lose weight but as I said earlier, you need to be consistent. That said, if you put in the work, you will see and feel the benefits. This summer, make walking your go-to activity and see just what you can achieve!


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