I get this question all the time. Both through the contact me page, and during my weight loss classes. People ask me, “Can I lose weight just by walking?” In this world of extreme weight loss television shows, gyms on every block, and awareness of strength training, it is a valid question. Is plain old walking enough to lose a substantial amount of weight?
I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, the unequivocal answer is yes. You can lose a substantial amount of weight by walking alone because I did. As I’ve shared before, when I first started on my final weight loss journey, I could barely walk to the mailbox without getting winded. So when I began trying to exercise the only thing I could do was walk. I walked 10 minutes away from the house and 10 minutes back. Twenty minutes felt like hours, and I really thought I was going to die on the the way back. And believe me, I didn’t walk fast. I lumbered, swaying from side to side like a pregnant woman in her ninth month!
As the months clicked by on the calendar, my weight dropped. As my weight dropped my fitness level increased dramatically. One thing I continued to do without fail was exercise, and by exercise I mean walk. But–I no longer ambled down the road. Instead of strolling, I strided. Legs moving fast, arms pumping in rhythm I attacked the road. Every day I aimed to go faster and farther. When my weight finally dropped in the 100’s, I walked so fast I overtook anyone I saw walking on the road. Ladies strolling with friends waved as I surged past them, and men walking their dogs nodded as I moved ahead. Sometimes I felt like the greyhound chasing the rabbit – faster, faster, faster.
When I finally weighed under 200 pounds I would sometimes pick up my feet into a jog, but I primarly used walking as my exercise of choice. I still do. I have done several 5K’s, and hope to do more, but I enjoy walking the most. Six days a week, rain or shine, you will see me exercising in my neighborhood. I often wonder what my neighbors think, as most of them don’t know I used to be obese!
So can you lose a substantial amount of weight by walking as your primary form of exercise? Yes you can. (This answer of course assumes that you are also eating well! ) The key is to not allow contement to creep in. Your body quickly adapts to aerobic exercise, and you will need to pick up the pace, and possibly add in interval training to keep your body guessing and your weight loss going.
I do recommend mixing up your exercise routines, but if you love to walk, then do that. The most important thing is that you are moving your body, and improving your fitness level. Biking, running, walking, swimming, jogging, spinning – they all work. Sometimes I think that people see walking as too easy, but I’m proof that it’s not! So if walking is your passion, strap on your pedometer, tie up your running shoes, and do it well! Diane
Here are some links that will help you assess how effective your walking routine is, and give you some great tips on improving your fitness levels.