It’s summertime, which means beach days, pool days, picnics, and parties. It also means swimsuits, shorts, and other clothes that leave less to the imagination than winter coats and long sweaters.
There are so many reasons to exercise, from improving heart health and mental health, to dropping a few pounds. Luckily, getting fit is a lot simpler than you think: Research shows that simply walking every day can help you reach your goals. Bonus: walking can help reverse energy-sapping mitochondrial dysfunction, a process in which your body’s tiny cellular “energy engines” break down. The result: A slimmer, more energized you!
Walking for Weight Loss
Many folks don’t consider walking to be an effective form of exercise if you’re trying to shed some pounds. However, since it’s easier to do than hitting the gym, especially these days, you might be more likely to get your walking shoes on and take to the streets. And, it actually burns a significant amount of calories if you do it for long enough. The study-backed amount? At least 30 minutes per day.
Of course, how many calories you burn while walking depends on factors like your weight and walking speed. That said, one study that tracked women who walked daily for six months showed an average 17 pound weight loss among participants. The women were instructed to steadily increase their amount of walking to a maximum of one hour per day. Until they completed at least 30 minutes daily, they showed little weight loss, which demonstrates that the time spent walking had a direct impact on their weight.
A similar study done on women who were considered obese found that those who walked for 50 to 70 minutes at least three days per week lost about six pounds over a 12-week period. Those who walked also lost a significant amount of body fat and belly fat compared with those who didn’t walk.
Better still, combining walking with healthy changes to your diet can get you even closer to your goals. In one 12-week study, subjects who were considered obese were instructed to reduce their calorie intake by 500 to 800 calories each day. One group added three hours of walking per week at 3.7 mph. The other group didn’t add walking. Both groups showed a significant amount of weight loss, but those who added the walking lost an average of four additional pounds.
All in all, the amount of weight you lose depends on how many calories you consume and how many you burn. Walking is a great way to boost your calorie burn. Based on the theory that one pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories, in order to lose a pound a week, you’d need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories a day for seven days. Walking 30 minutes to an hour per day is a great way to help you achieve the appropriate calorie deficit for weight loss.
As we saw in the studies, you can gradually increase your activity levels by starting off with a short walk and slowly working your way up to an hour per day. Your body — and your waistline — will thank you. (Click through to our sister publication to see how walking also helps cut the risk of fibroids after menopause.)
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.
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