Walking for Weight Loss
I was once an avid runner. I trained for and ran a half marathon. I was never super competitive, but I always just assumed that higher intensity workouts were best, and while they will give you a bigger calorie burn, walking, if done right, can move you toward your goals as well.
How many steps should someone take in a day?
I think this depends entirely on your goals. If your goal is just be more active, or to improve heart health, or to help with depression, or to reduce the risk of diabetes, then the recommended number of steps per day is 10,000. This is about 5 miles. According to Mayo Clinic, "The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles." Mayo Clinic also recommends that if you fall into this category, your first goal should just be to increase slowly to 10,000 by adding 1000 extra daily steps each week. If you are getting 3000, then aim for 4000 this week. Next week, you can aim to step 5000 steps.
However, if you are an active person who is already getting 10,000 steps a day, but your goal is to lose weight, then set a new goal for yourself. Personally, my goal is to earn my 10,000 steps in a morning walk (brisk pace and/or pushing a stroller). Then, go about my day as normal. I may take the kids or my dog on a leisurely stroll after that, but it is just extra movement to boost my metabolism and burn some extra calories. This has helped me get step counts as high as 20k-25k!
How to increase the intensity of your walks for maximum results
If you read my post about heart rates and weight loss, you'll know that the higher the intensity, the bigger the effect on your body. So, the best thing to do is to increase the intensity as much as you can while still being able to sustain the activity.
Walk faster. The faster your pace, the higher your heart rate will climb. The higher the hear trate, the higher the calorie burn.
Add hills. If you add hills, you can burn more calories for a set distance.
Run intervals. If you know you're going to finish 4 miles regardless, choosing to run/walk/run/walk it will give you a nice caloric burn boost.
Add weight. Wearing a weighted vest forces your body to work harder to maintain the same speed as it would work to walking without the extra weight. The extra work translates into greater calorie burn.
Go Further. The obvious answer is to just walk more. The more you walk, the more calories you will burn.
How to include more steps in your day
Set aside time to walk in a way that will make you sweat-- EXERCISE time
Park in the back of the lot
Walk up and down every aisle of the grocery store
Walk the dog
Take the kids on a scavenger hunt
Walk up and down the stairs of your home
March in place while watching TV
Clean the house
Mow the lawn
Wash your car
Set a timer and walk in intervals
Play a walking game (like the drinking game, but with walking... every time Michael Scott praises himself, do 10 jumping jacks)
Dance (alone in your room or wherever you want!)
Hike a trail near by
The things I love the most about transitioning from running to walking is the absolute calmness around me. I am less interested in shaving my mile time down or increasing my mileage against the pain of my body, and I am more interested in getting into a new book. I have been spending an hour to an hour and half walking daily and listening to books on Audible. I have absolutely cherished this time to myself. I have combined an opportunity for me to read and think with my time to exercise. I have realized that I am so much more appreciative of what my body CAN do than being angry for the ways in which my body falls short of my goals and expectations. Running always made me feel so insufficient before I ever felt any victory. But, maybe I will run again one day, because those victories were so sweet when they did come!