Exercise combined with a few changes in your diet can melt off the pounds in no time. But if you think exercise means hours sweating in the gym, think again. As with any new exercise program check with your doctor before proceeding.
Studies have shown that walking at a brisk pace has the same benefits to your heart as jogging, with less stress to your joints. Walkers are less prone to injuries than joggers. A brisk pace means that you can talk while you’re walking without gasping for air. If you can sing a tune you’re going too slow. You should be able to keep up the pace for 30 to 60 minutes without a lot of stress.
If your goal is to lose a pound a week you have to either increase your exercise to burn up 3500 calories or decrease your food intake by 3500 calories. On a daily basis that means a change of 500 calories. Walking a mile takes the average person 15 minutes and burns up 100 calories. So you’d have to walk about five miles a day, or spend an hour and fifteen minutes walking to lose a pound a week.
You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to start walking. A good pair of walking shoes is essential, but other than you don’t need much of anything else. Wear loose clothing of natural fibers so if you sweat, the moisture will be wicked away from your body and evaporate. Wear sun block and a hat.
You can walk at any time of day (or night for that matter). Some people prefer the morning because it gives them a boost of energy for the day. Others prefer at the end of the day so they can unwind.
Start your walking program with a 15 minute walk for a few days in a row. Then gradually increase the time by five minutes. By the end of two weeks you should be up to 30 to 45 minutes a day. You’re burning 200 to 350 calories without any changes in your diet. After six months you’ll have lost from 12 to 20 pounds. If you want to accelerate the weight loss, walk faster, cover more ground in the same amount of time.
If you decrease the amount of food you eat by 200 calories a day you double the weight loss. 200 calories isn’t really that much of a sacrifice. For example regular salad dressing has about 100 calories per tablespoon; a serving size is two tablespoons, so substituting nonfat salad dressing would save 200 calories. A 3.5 inch bagel with two tablespoons of cream cheese is about 400 calories. Eat half of the bagel instead of the whole one, and you’ve saved your 200 calories. A glass of whole milk is 150 calories, skim milk is 90, if you drink 3 glasses of milk a day you save 180 calories by switching to skim.
There you have it: an easy way to lose weight, increase your fitness level and strengthen your cardiovascular system and all you did was take a walk.