There are very few things in life that give a large return on investment.
Walking is one of those things.
It is by far the easiest physical activity you can do, and provides your body with tremendous benefits.
Walking has the potential to keep your metabolism high, keep your body fit and also help you shed some weight.
If you are not utilizing this form of exercise in your routine, then you are simply missing out.
Today, we will show you how to start walking for weight loss.
Welcome to the fourth installment of the WCT weight loss series. This series has been focusing on actionable strategies that you can integrate into your busy schedule to shed pounds.
In Part 1, Every Diet Plan To Lose Weight Must Follow This 1 Rule we discuss the most important dietary strategy everyone needs to use in order to lose weight.
In Part 2, The 3 Best Exercises To Lose Weight Fast [And Build Muscle Too] we cover the most effective ways that you can use exercise to shed some fat.
In Part 3, The Best Cardio Workout For Weight Loss [The 16 Minute Workout] we discuss how to use cardio to lose weight. And no, it does not involve spending long, countless, boring hours on the treadmill or elliptical.
Today’s Post is Going to Cover:
- Why walking is the most underrated exercise for health and weight loss
- Why you need a daily walk in your life whether or not you want to lose weight
- The numerous health benefits this simple exercise gives the body
- 5 strategies to implement this exercise into your fitness routine, and several other strategies to implement it into your daily life
Although we are doctors and personal trainers, we are not your doctors. The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary activities are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any damage or injury which may occur. Please read our full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning we may receive a commission if you use them.
Okay, let’s get started.
The Design Argument
If you were to analyze humans and their anatomical and physiological design, you will come to the undoubted conclusion that
Humans are Designed To
- And most importantly, Move
Movement is currently a hot topic in the fitness industry and everyone seems to understand that the more we move, the healthier we will be.
But it goes beyond that.
Movement is part of our makeup. It’s why our musculoskeletal system is so intricate and has so many different components.
All of our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints are arranged in very precise configurations.
When working in unison, the specific arrangement of our musculoskeletal system allows us to sit, stand, squat, reach, hinge, push, pull, and most importantly – walk.
You can argue whether or not we were designed to lift dumbbells and barbells, but with walking- there is no debate.
We are supposed to walk, and we are supposed to do it often. Unfortunately, you probably don’t walk enough.
Why Aren’t We Walking More?
We live in a society where walking has become unnecessary.
Cities and modern civilizations have provided us with the ability to communicate and travel long distances without having to move very much.
But, we didn’t always have computers, phones, automobiles, planes, and delivery services.
New technology has provided us with amazing innovations, but at the expense of our natural ways of living.
There is hardly any incentive to walk anymore.
This reminds me of the scene from the Pixar movie Wall-E. Where human technology was so advanced, that no one ever stood up from their floating workstation.
If we aren’t careful, this scenario might become a reality in the future.
Walking is the most underrated form of exercise on the planet.
Everyone needs to do it more often, including you.
Walking for Health- Why You Should Incorporate A Daily Walk
Walking is the most basic and beneficial exercise that you can do.
- First of all, it’s free
- It doesn’t require any equipment.
- It won’t cost you a significant amount of time to do it.
Here are Some of the Many Benefits of Walking
1) Keeps Bones Strong
Walking is considered the most basic form of resistance exercise. Your body has to overcome gravity in order to keep you moving forward. As a result, the muscles and joints of your lower body get stronger as it has to propel your own bodyweight forward with each step that you take. That is why walking is one of the first line treatment options for individuals suffering from osteoporosis.
2) Improves Circulation,
Your lower body musculature has to constantly contract and relax with every step you take. This helps to push blood from your lower body back to your heart more efficiently. In addition, walking helps improve the circulation of your lymphatic system, which helps clean up metabolic waste products from your body. The more inactive you are, the more stagnant your blood and lymph will be.
3) Improves Digestion
Studies have shown that going for a short walk after a meal can help clear glucose from your bloodstream and aid in digestion. This is one strategy many individuals have used to help them lose weight.
4) Improves Metabolism
Walking is a form of exercise. As such, it will strengthen your core, your glutes and several muscles of the thigh and lower leg. This increase in activity will increase your energy usage and thus your basal metabolic rate.
5) Improves Insulin Sensitivity
We are beating this point several times. Glucose preferentially goes to your muscles whenever they are being used. The more you walk, the more you are exercising and utilizing resources that won’t be used for fat storage. In essence you are doing insulin’s job by walking more.
6) Blood Pressure Control and Heart Health
Small studies have shown that walking can be associated with a decrease in blood pressure and an improvement in heart health. These benefits are particularly helpful in obese individuals.
7) Improves Weight Management
It’s not hard to see that all of the benefits above can automatically help your body lose weight.
Let’s dive in a little deeper.
Here’s How Walking Helps You Lose Weight
- The muscles of your legs, your core, and your spine get activated and need a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients.
- Your lungs work harder to keep bringing the oxygen to your body when you’re in motion.
- Your heart works harder to deliver that oxygen and nutrients to your body
- As such your body is constantly utilizing energy resources to keep you going
With all of these benefits, it is mind-boggling that people don’t walk more often.
Every time you walk, you are signaling to your body that it needs to pool energy resources together to keep itself going.
You may be thinking that cardio is a much better way to derive these benefits. gives all of these great benefits and more.
Unlike cardio, walking is a very low-intensity, low impact exercise that anyone can do. You can match the pace of your walk to your level of fitness.
Traditional treadmill cardio might actually be a waste of time for many individuals, which we cover in Is Cardio Actually Necessary? 5 Reasons Why I Don’t Do Cardio
Not everyone should be doing that kind of cardio, but everyone should be walking, every single day, regardless of whether or not you exercise on a regular basis.
When you walk, you are always exercising! Not just when you are at the gym.
Keeping your body in motion will keep your energy expenditure high, and your body weight low.
Walking for Weight Loss Plan- How Much Should I Walk?
The average American takes 5000 steps a day. There has been clear and consistent data to support that walking more can provide significant health benefits.
What is a reasonable amount?
10,000 steps a day is a good goal to aim for.
If you can do more, then do more.
Fitbit died on Wednesday lol
If you are nowhere near this number do not worry.
The most important thing is to work up to your goal slowly.
If you normally walk 2000 steps a day. Increase it to 2500 for one week. The following week try and get 3000 and so on.
I cannot stress the importance of starting conservatively. This way, your body can get used to the new volume of work without taking a significant shock to the system.
Increase the amount of walking you do on a weekly basis, kind of like the principle of progressive overload which we discuss in detail in 3 Essential Principles of Exercise Everyone Ought to Know Before Working Out.
We have already written a post on the ill effects of prolonged sitting and how to take 10,000 steps a day in your normal day to day life. You can find it at Combat Your Sedentary Lifestyle Using This Simple Strategy.
Walking more can be added to your routine no matter how busy you are.
You can increase the amount of walking that you do when you are on your way to work, the amount of walking you do while you are at work and the amount of walking you do when coming home from work!
In addition, you could even integrate walking into your fitness training to help you lose weight.
Here are 5 Ways to Add Walking to Your Exercise Routine
1. Start your workout with a brisk 2-3 minute walk to warm up
2. Walk to the water fountain in between every single set
3. Add a steep 3-minute walk on the treadmill at the end of every session
4. Add a moderately paced 10-minute walk after your weekly HIIT session
5. Increase the distance you have to walk on your way home from your workout
Bonus Tip: Reap The Benefits of A Morning Walk
One last strategy you can implement into your life is a walk in the early hours of the morning.
There are numerous benefits of a morning walk.
1) You get your day off on the right foot by exercising and giving your body what it needs
2) You rev up your metabolism and set the pace for the rest of the day
3) You give yourself a natural boost of energy that can only be obtained from exercise (we can call it the “walker’s high”)
4) There are no distractions that early in the morning, it’s just you and nature
5) You can use this time to listen to a podcast and get your mindset in the right place before you head to work
All you need is 10-15 minutes. It’s a small investment you can make that’ll pay dividends for a lifetime. While you’re at it, take 5 minutes in the morning to prepare a high-quality breakfast too: 5 Easy Breakfast Ideas for Busy Mornings.
Final Words on Daily Walking
Walking is by far the most underrated exercise of all time.
You don’t even need equipment to do it.
If you could only do one type of exercise, it would be walking.
Never ever underestimate the power of movement.
The only useful thing we should take from John Cisna (the guy who promotes a McDonald’s-only diet) is that we should all walk more.
With that said, do not forget that losing weight requires a holistic approach and it is important to use many different strategies to maximize your chance of success.
You must use all of the strategies that we have outlined in the last 3 posts. These include simple dietary strategies for weight loss, better ways of exercising for weight loss, better ways of implementing cardio for weight loss, and now, one more way to hack your body to use higher rates of energy.
Next, You Should Read:
- How Often Should You Eat? 3, 4, or 6 Times A Day?
- How To Decrease Your Calories But Not Go Hungry
- How To Lose Weight Without Running – Do This Instead
What do you think of walking?
Will you incorporate this underrated exercise into your routine?
How many steps a day do you normally take?
Comment below and let us know!
Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM CPTs, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader’s Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.