Many fitness programs will have you believe that you need to sweat it out in the gym and take part in extreme calorie-deficient diets in order to lose those stubborn pounds.
But can you lose weight just by walking an hour a day?
So, the all-important question, the one that’s on the tips of your lips – can you lose weight by walking an hour a day?
Many people don’t see walking as a means of exercise, or an effective way to lose weight. Apart from getting the blood pumping around your body and lifting your heart rate that little bit, there are a whole bunch of other health benefits associated with getting up off the couch and getting a bit of fresh air outside as you hit the pavement.
Looking purely at the numbers, the calories you burn while walking depends on many varying factors, but let’s focus on body weight and walking speed for a second. By going off the average walking pace, which is 3mph, a 120lb adult can expect to burn around 193 calories. Someone else on the other end of the spectrum doubling their weight at 240lb can expect to burn roughly double – 382 calories. It stands to reason that walking faster would burn more fuel in the body, so just by adding 1mph to the pace, that 120lb person burns 275 calories and the 240lb person burns 545 calories. That’s a 42% increase for not that much extra effort!
A study followed a group of women who started walking an hour a day, and after 6 months they lost an average of 17lbs or around 10% of their total body weights. Keep in mind this is while maintaining the same diet, and not affecting their caloric intake whatsoever. As you can see, by incorporating that little bit of exercise into your daily routine, you help shift the your body into calorie deficit as the pounds fall off.
So, getting back to the figures for a second, we can think of 1 pound of body weight as consisting of 3,500 calories. Theoretically, you could modify your diet to reduce your daily intake by 500 calories and lose around a pound a week – with no exercise at all!
You can start to see pattern developing here, that both diet and low-level exercise can be an avenue of very minor calorie deficits each day that slowly add to quite an impressive total.
So, putting all that aside, there are a ton of other health benefits the body experiences just from you choosing to get up and move around outside for an hour a day. LDL or bad cholesterol levels are lowered, reducing the risk of heart disease and coronary blockages. Likewise, the HDL or good cholesterol begins to rise over time.
By moving blood through your body, and reduced the pooling effect in your legs and feet from gravity pulling your blood towards the Earth as you sit, there is a definite decrease in blood pressure. Instead of trying to work against gravity, the heart has an easier time pumping blood around the body as the mechanical processes involved with movement and walking push blood out of the lower extremities and around the body on its own.
Then there are the psychological benefits. Just being out in nature, saying hello to strangers, and soaking up a bit of sunshine has an extremely positive effect on general mood. If you’re being a lazy grouch, then go get out of the house!