How walking burns fat, boosts mental wellbeing and increases longevity.
You might have read the headline and thought. What’s the big deal about walking? How could something so simple be so effective and do all that? Unless someone has a condition or injury then most people have the ability to walk, but the unfortunate truth is people aren’t walking enough. And yes, something as simple as walking can help burn fat, boost mental well being and increase how long you live on this planet.
OK, so how does walking do all of that?
Everyday life can be monotonous, boring without much activity. Sedentary lifestyles have become way too normal. You sit on the commute to work, you sit at your desk all day, you sit at lunch, sit on the commute back home, then sit down and watch TV eating your dinner. You might go to the gym for an hour in the evening but this doesn't counteract the prolonged bouts of sitting during the day. Sedentary workers sit an average of 13 hours a day. Sitting for long periods is an independent risk factor for premature death, it promotes poor posture and inactivity leads to extra weight gain.
This is working life to an extend, but you can change certain things and I strongly believe that movement is the first step in being the catalyst to more exercise and boosting mindset.
In this blog I’m going to show you how walking can help shed some body fat, how walking is a powerful mental booster which will give you more clarity and power. And lastly, how scientific fact has shown the impotence of walking and how it increases life span. I’ll show you simple and effective strategies for each that you can easily fit into your day.
Do you feel like you could get more steps in? Or do you feel like you want to exercise but it’s too much effort? Do you have brain fog and can’t think straight? Well walking could be the answer!
Humans have been walking for millions of years. As a bipedal mammal our only mode of transport was our own two feet. If we moved locations or went hunting for food then walking was the only way. As humans evolved like this it has become a fundamental human movement pattern and our bodies expect us to walk.
As I said, most people aren't walking that much today, because they pretty much don't have to. Public transport, modern day ‘fast’ culture, longer hours of sitting have all contributed to the humans walking less, which comes at a cost to a persons health.
Walking effects fat loss as it gets you moving more than you would. The NHS states the average person in the UK walks 5000-6000 steps a day, which is about half of the recommend 10,000. It’s simple, the more steps you take during the day the more calories you’ll burn. This increases your NEAT which is all activity not considered as exercise. Studies show that women who walked briskly for an hour a day decreased belly fat by 20%, WITHOUT changing their dietary habits. Which is huge!
Walking is the only form of exercise that doesn't induce the stress response in the human body. Because of this walking can be done everyday. And unlike certain exercises, you know how to walk and don’t need any special equipment or a place to do it.
Regular walking also speeds recovery from intense sessions at the gym. Walking pumps fresh blood around the body clearing the old stuff out and helps remove lactate which causes you to feel sore.
When you eat processed, sugary, high refined carbohydrates the bloodstream gets bombarded with glucose. This glucose gets shuttled into cells and when these are full it overspills into the liver and when the liver is full it has nowhere to go and starts to create fat. Eating processed carbohydrates and inactivity leads to fat gain and other health issues like Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Regular walking has been shown to be very effective at controlling blood sugar levels and can decrease risk of diabetes by 30%. This is because of muscle contractions that occur when you walk which helps clear the glucose from your system.
This is a reason why I recommend resistance training as muscle cells are more receptive to receiving glucose after training and is used as muscle fuel rather than floating around the bloodstream and later getting stored as fat. If resistance training doesn't sound appealing to you then going for a 15-30 min walk after a meal seriously blunts the rise in blood sugar.
The Immune System is the bodies natural defence in fighting against invasive organisms and illness. The Lymphatic System is an important part of the Immune System as it rids the body of waste, fighting bacteria and other injections. Lymph fluid needs to be transported around the body for it to take action, and the Lymph system does not move unless you move. Lymph fluid can get clogged up and the best way to pump it around the body is to walk. When Lymph starts to flow around the body you are better able to absorb nutrients, the body can fight cancerous cells and you’ll eliminate waste a lot easier.
Walking activates the rest and digest response. Exercise and daily stressors like the commute to work, traffic, your boss, rent or relationships all activate the flight or fight response. Being in a constant low level of stress all the time decreases your mental wellbeing and can increase your waistline.
Walking is a calmer form of exercise helping to release endorphins and feel good hormones that help you relax and make you feel good. Walking is a great reliever of stress and has even been shown as an effective treatment for mild depression and demenia.
In activity is a killer, and has been shown to be the fourth biggest killer world wide. I don't want to sound like a kill joy but want to stamp home the importance of regular activity to increase your lifespan, and it all starts with walking. Walking 20-25 minutes a day has been found to add anywhere between three to seven years to your lifespan.
Now you know some of the benefits of walking, lets see how you can put it into action and actually reap the rewards of doing it.
Track your steps
The first step would be to track how much you’re walking on a daily basis. The goal would be to hit 10,000 steps in a day. You can use a Fit Bit, an app on your phone or a pedometer to track. See where you’re at and set daily goals to reach 10,000, or 12,000 which is even better.
This is pretty simple. Get more steps in. Take the stairs rather than the lift, park the car at the end of the car park, walk to work, or get off a couple of bus stops before and walk the rest of the way in. There are many ways to accumulate steps, see where can you fit these into your routine. These smalls distances will add up by the end of the day or week.
I call this a power walk as walking first thing in the morning is powerful and sets you up for the day. Get up earlier and walk for 20-30 mins and make this part of your morning routine. This improves circulation which helps wake you up, it’s a great time to think and plan your day and gives clarity on things in life. This puts you in power and makes you feel good as you start your day accomplishing something big. Walking first thing on a empty stomach can be used as a great fat burning tool too.
Walk in Speeds
We all have different walking speeds and each person has their own walking pace. Changing speeds while walking helps you burn more calories, and you can increase your overall calorie burn doing walking intervals than walking at a steady pace.
You can do 1 minute of fast walking with 1 minute normal pace, or 30 seconds fast walking to 1 minute normal pace.
Walk and Learn
Walking can be a great time to focus on personal development. You can listen to an audio book, a podcast or something that elevates your mind to learn. This is a double whammy as you’re elevating your mind while elevating your body.
Walk and Work
You can walk while getting work done. You can have a walking meeting or a walking work call. This lets you knock out two things at once, and your mind will be sharper too!!! You can simply walk around the office, house, street or in a local park.
Walk and Talk
Walking doesn’t have to be done alone. Make it social, rather than taking time way. Go walking with your family, co workers or friends and use it as a time to catch up.
As you can see there is more to walking than you might have thought. I always recommend it to my clients as part of their daily routine. If you’re interested in improving your health and fitness then get in touch for a strategy call and we can see what will fit into your lifestyle.
In the meantime, get your steps in and I guarantee you’ll feel and look much better.