Learning to walk fast is a productive way to lose weight and keep it off. Nearly two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese and, as a result, incur greater risks for a wide variety of serious medical conditions as well as a shorter life. Most adults also do not get the amount of physical activity they need to sustain good health. Walking fast every day helps adults both to get fit and lose weight. The secret is developing new habits which make taking brisk daily walks a habit.
The Health Benefits of Weight Loss
Getting one’s weight down to a normal body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 has beneficial health effects by lowering the risks of developing:
- heart conditions
- some cancers
- menstrual problems
- breathing problems
People who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) have a moderate heath risk while those who are obese (BMI of 30 to 39.9) have a high health risk and those who are morbidly obese (BMI of 40+) have a very high health risk.
Losing 10% or more of one’s weight can reduce the risk of dying at any age by 20%. Weight loss has incredible benefits including for many people, increased energy and self-esteem, in addition to reduced health risks.
Lose Weight by Walking Fast
Walking is the physical activity that is most natural and the easiest for most people to do. It strengthens the muscles and bones of the lower body and can improve a person’s fitness and stamina. But if people need to lose a lot of weight they’ll need to work up to walking at a brisk aerobic pace of from 3.0 to 4.0 mph for 60 to 90 minutes a day. That’s the way to lose weight permanently by walking fast.
Before embarking on any weight loss, exercise or diet program adults should check with their doctors to get medical clearance first. This is especially important for adults who already have chronic medical conditions.
When starting a walking program there are a number of guidelines that should be followed for optimal safety. These include:
- walking outside only in daylight
- gradually working up over a period of weeks or months to the goal of 60 to 90 minutes of aerobic walking a day
- starting each walking session with a five minute warm-up of slow walking
- ending each session with a five minute cool-down of slow walking
- if necessary, doing multiple walking sessions a day as long as each aerobic period lasts 10 minutes or more
Walk every day for best results, but don’t worry if you miss a day now and then.
Work on the Motivation to Lose Weight
People who are overweight or obese know it and they know they should lose weight to lower health risks as well as to look and feel better. Many have tried losing weight multiple times only to gain it back. It’s easy to give up the task. That’s why motivation is critical, both to getting started and to sustain the effort. Creating new habits and a permanent new lifestyle by putting first things first, such as health, is the key to success.
Keeping a journal of walks with date, time, duration and speed is a motivational help as progress is recorded over weeks and months. Walking with a friend or walking group also helps keep motivation high. So does setting intermediate goals (reaching 30 minutes a day, 60 minutes a day, 15 miles a week, 25 miles a week, etc.) and having fun rewards for meeting them (but not food or meals out).
It can take 60 days or longer to establish many habits so people need to commit to at least three months of daily walks before they can count on it as an entrenched habit. Establishing positive new habits and breaking old bad ones is the way to achieve one’s goals.
Eat Sensibly to Help Lose Weight Permanently
Although walking fast will get you fit, it needs to be coupled with making wise food choices and eating sensibly. The recently published Mayo Clinic Diet is a reliable source on both diet and physical activity. The combination of high calorie expenditure through walking fast every day and rational calorie restriction by eating less on a nutritionally sound plan is the just what the body needs to lose weight permanently.
cdc.gov, “Overweight and Obesity” (accessed 30 April 2010)
patient.co.uk, “Obesity and Overweight” (accessed 30 April 2010)