Regular exercise is one of the most important building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, sleep and a balanced diet co-create an ideal environment that contributes to development in other aspects of our lives
An active lifestyle is important for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Exercise is particularly effective for maintaining body weight.
When the word exercise or physical activity is said, most people think of sweaty bodies in the gym, a panting runner, or some other form of high-impact exercise.
Many forget that movement is movement, for burning calories it doesn’t matter exactly how the body moves, the main thing is that it is in motion. And so what happens is that people often neglect the easiest, cheapest and most inaccessible way of moving, walking.
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Is it possible to burn calories and not gain weight through walking?
To lose weight, it is necessary to be in a state of calorie deficit. In practice, this means that you must consume less energy than the body expends during the day.
Thus, many people resort to restricting their caloric intake, which, while the right thing to do, can also result in unimaginable daily fatigue for some individuals.
In such a state, the thought of physical activity seems to be completely out of the question. Especially in today’s world, it is easy to lead a life devoid of physical activity – we spend most of our day sitting, especially if our work is also done in a chair.
Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle not only contributes to weight gain, but also poses a risk of health problems.
The ideal is to incorporate walking into your daily routine, for example by walking your children to school, getting off at an earlier bus stop or parking in a more remote car park.
For 20 minutes of brisk walking (about 1.6 km or 2,000 steps), you will burn an average of 100 calories. While you will burn about 15 more calories per kilometer, it is a significantly more strenuous movement.
Walking helps maintain muscle mass
When calorie intake is reduced, the body often enters a catabolic state where muscle mass is lost along with body fat.
This effect is undesirable for most people who want to lose weight, as muscles are more metabolically active, need a lot of energy to function, and thus help burn more calories each day.
Exercise, including walking helps to maintain muscle mass during weight loss. Muscle mass helps prevent the slowing of metabolism that often occurs during weight loss, and thus helps us achieve results faster.
Maintaining muscle mass is particularly important for older people, who also experience muscle loss with age, and it is very important to maintain a sufficient percentage of muscle despite the possible need to lose weight.
Helps prevent the yo-yo effect
The yo-yo effect is an annoying phenomenon that unfortunately a significant number of people who finally manage to lose weight struggle with. After successful weight loss, they are faced with the return of the lost pounds and sometimes an extra bonus.
However, regular exercise plays an important role in the ability to maintain a stable weight even after weight loss. Therefore, it is important to include regular exercise in your weight loss plan and not just changing the way you eat.
Not only will walking help you burn some extra calories, but it also promotes the development of deep stabilizing muscles, improves your mood and is great to incorporate into your daily life.
According to research, you need about 150 minutes of walking a week to maintain a steady weight. However, the length of time varies if your weight change was more drastic (10+ kg). In that case, it is recommended to exercise for more than 200 minutes per week.
Walking is effective for losing belly fat
The deposition of fat in the abdomen, hips and navel area is considered a sign of the presence of visceral fat. That is, fat that is deposited around the internal organs.
Abdominal obesity is recorded when the waist circumference is greater than 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women. And it is generally considered a health risk because of the greater likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.
Against fat on the abdomen is the most effective aerobic exercise…including brisk walking
If you are on a diet, it is advisable to add walking 3-5 times a week for about 50-70 minutes to your calorie restriction. This amount of activity is enough to make a visible change and has the effect of reducing both visceral and subcutaneous fat.
A regular walk helps to improve your mood and relieves you of stress
Movement alone is enough to improve mood, physical activity is proven to reduce feelings of stress, seasonal depression and anxiety.
Exercise makes the brain more sensitive to serotonin and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), hormones otherwise known as the “happiness hormones”. These hormones further stimulate the secretion of endorphins.
Exercise helps to break down the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.
Moreover, a good mood during and after physical activity is one of the key reasons to continue it. In short, choose a movement that makes you happy.
Some people choose to stop exercising because of the intensity of the workout and its demands on the physique. Especially for beginners and people who are more overweight, walking is a great choice.
Nature has a positive, healing effect on mental health. Just being outdoors helps to reduce overall body tension, stress, and even blood pressure.
How to incorporate walking into a regular routine? Try Nordic walking sticks, for example
For many, walking may seem difficult to incorporate into the daily routine. We’ve already mentioned various tricks for fitting this movement in with the activities you do outside the home, but what about when you’re at the home office or looking after a child?
- Try buying a smartwatch that can motivate you to stay out longer and get moving more.
- Extend your walks with the dog or stroller/child.
- Try recruiting a friend or relative. Walking together will go by faster and you will enjoy it more.
- Spice up your walks with a change of route and interesting terrain.
- Get trekking poles.
Nordic walking, originally from Finland, is now popular all over Europe and is practiced by all age groups, fit athletes and beginners alike. By incorporating poles, arm muscles are exercised and there is greater rotation of the shoulders in relation to the pelvis.
This naturally increases the range of motion of the joints, especially the shoulders and hips, and also helps the elasticity of the discs, thanks to deeper breathing, which strengthens the diaphragm and improves the flexibility of the lumbar vertebrae.
Choosing the ideal trekking poles is central to movement efficiency and achieving the best results. Poles vary not only in length, but also in strength, comfort for grip and fit for different seasons.
For the appropriate length there is a formula: your height(cm) x coefficient(according to activity level)
- Low activity: 0.68
- Medium activity: 0.70
- Athletes: 0.72
- Seniors: 0.65
It is advisable to choose the material according to your stature, the bulkier or taller you are the harder the material you should choose. The handle should fit you like a glove, ideally made of natural materials such as cork. The strap is definitely a glove strap, it can also be adjustable.
For weight loss by walking to be effective, you need to spend at least 2.5 hours a week walking briskly, and engage in it for at least ten minutes at a time. If you devote longer time to exercise, your weight loss will be even more effective.