How a daily walk can help you reach your health and fitness goals
As a trainer with more than 25 years of experience, training countless clients across various age and life stages, my biggest health and fitness mantra is daily movement.
Although I encourage (and host!) weekly HIIT and strength-based workouts for all my clients, both through my LIVE / On Demand platform and for my private one-to-one sessions, the other workout discipline I’m very passionate about, is walking.
Walking is, in my opinion, one of the best forms of exercise you can do. A daily walk can do everything from alleviate stress and tension, help digestion and circulation and, if done correctly – even aid in weight loss.
I love walking outside in nature and it’s part of my own daily workout structure. It’s mindful, it’s inclusive, it’s a cardio-hit and it increases the feel-good hormones we so desperately need day-to-day.
Here’s a few of my top walking mantras to help inspire you to get this daily movement practise into your life:
How can I use walking daily to help me lose weight or keep a healthy weight?
Walking may not be the quickest way to lose weight, but it can help you keep off extra weight and even lose some, if you get your heart rate and muscle groups working in the right way during a daily walk.
Physically, walking in nature will challenge you, as the uneven terrain stimulates different muscles in the ankles, knees, hips and core. You can choose to power it up by increasing the speed and by challenging yourself by walking up a few hills or an incline to work your heart, lungs and your whole body a little more.
Or you can slow it down and walk for longer distances, depending on your focus or challenge for that day. Ensuring your posture is strong, with your neck and back in a neutral spine and your glutes activated means your muscular and skeletal systems are both getting a good workout too.
I would recommend complementing a walking workout with some other exercises such as low-impact Pilates or one or two HIIT workouts a week, just to keep your body challenged with different planes of movement. It’s important that even when walking, you need good alignment and a good gait, so building a strong pelvic floor and core is important for tracking and strengthening legs and glutes.
How many steps should I do a day if I want to lose weight?
It’s less about the number of steps and more about the terrain and speed you’re on. If you’re really committed to using walking as a key weight loss tool, I would do variable speeds and variable terrains – everything from cross country and hilly walks to beach walks and roads. I would also say vary your speeds – speed walking is great but mix it with some slower but longer paced sessions too and make sure you’re activating your muscles whilst you walk to give you a full body workout.
Your speed will also push your heart rate up giving your cardio system a challenging workout. And those carrying more body weight will burn more calories as the effort of walking will be more strenuous.
Walking as a natural mood and energy booster
Countless studies have shown that getting natural daylight (especially in the winter months!) is very important for regulating our hormones and our circadian rhythm (which in turn, allows us to sleep better and function better in everyday tasks).
The other benefit of walking is that using so many major muscle groups in one go increases your heart rate, which in turn increases blood flow to your major organs. This means everything from your digestion to your skin gets a healthy burst of blood and energy, which benefits both on a physical and aesthetic level.
So, whether it’s getting outside with the dog on a morning wander or doing a powerful speed-walk during your lunch break whilst listening to a podcast – get some fresh air and daylight and I promise you, your mind will thank you for it.