Despite what you may have heard from seasoned distance runners or weightlifters you know, walking – combined with a healthy diet – is an effective way to lose weight. According to research published in Journal of Diet Nutrition and BiochemistryResearchers who have studied the effects of walking on obese women have found that it is especially effective in reducing belly fat and improving the body’s insulin response. Another study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicinefound that sedentary men and women between the ages of 40 and 65 were able to lose weight if they walked 12 miles each week without significantly changing their diet.
If walking is your preferred exercise method, know that after you lace up your shoes, there is one thing you can do that will not only make your walks more fun, but also maximize your weight loss: You can do interval walking or change the pace of walking by working in shorter bursts or walking more vigorously.
“By changing your walking speed, especially by adding faster interval work, you raise your heart rate and increase your calorie expenditure, helping you lose more weight over time,” says Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, CISSN, physiologist and author Micro Workout Plan: Get The Body You Want Without A Gym In 15 Minutes Or Less A Day… “Remember that your body is an intelligent machine that adapts to your workouts. By adding variation to your walks, you will keep your body tense and avoid a terrible weight loss plateau. ”
Research has shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – unless done to the extreme, of course – is one of the most effective exercises you can do for weight loss. One huge meta-analysis published in a journal Sports medicine found that HIIT “significantly reduces total mass, abdominal and visceral fat mass without difference between the sexes.” The researchers concluded, “HIIT is a time-effective strategy to reduce body fat, including abdominal and visceral fat.”
While sprinting fast, knocking out burpees, and jumping rope are much more difficult than walking, the same exercise principles apply to walking intervals: by varying the intensity of the exercise and increasing your heart rate, you will receive a great reward.
“I was also told that intervals are more like a natural game,” Martin Gibala, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and one of the world’s leading experts on interval training, once explained to me. … “So, if you look at children on the playground, they don’t jog at a moderate pace for a long period of time. They run and jump, they take breaks and run, and then they stop and rest. So in a way, I think that intervals tend to resemble more natural activities, either in terms of evolution or in terms of child behavior. “
If you want your walk to be more interesting and productive, apply intervals to your next walk. Try this great 30 Minute Interval Walking Workout below, courtesy of Tom Holland. This is done in just half an hour, but your body’s fat-burning machine will work long after you stop. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t make any of these serious mistakes that experts say you shouldn’t make while walking.