If you are like most people in the world, one of your New Year resolutions would have been to lose weight and gain better health.
But now that we are into February, most people would have forgotten their resolutions. In the hustle and bustle of daily living, the last thing we want to remember is our New Year resolution as we try to make it through just another day!
The good news is that a weight loss programme need not be extensive or costly. Even if you are not a disciplined gym member or customer at a slimming centre, you can still lose weight through a simple motion that we all take for granted: walking.
Consider this: 30 minutes of walking helps you lose 107 calories, while 45 minutes of walking burns 160 calories and 60 minutes burns 200 calories.
Make that brisk walking- and you can lose 340 calories in 60 minutes. Use the stairs instead for 60 minutes and lose up to 600 calories!
What about walking that makes it an ideal weight-loss programme?
LOSING THE KILOS
Anyone who has tried to lose weight via diet or exercise plans will know the yo-yo effect, where you see your weight going down initially, only to have them piling on again once you resume your normal diet.
According to experts, most diets do not work because simply because people associate weight-loss with calorie-intake. Although it is true that weight loss happens when you use more calories than accumulate them, the only way to keep the weight off is to keep metabolism running, with exercise.
When you diet without exercising, the body sets off a defense mechanism of starvation- by lowering its metabolic rate. The body burns less calories to maintain a metabolic rate for normal and healthy functioning, and pulls protein from muscles to provide the calories missed from dieting.
That is why dieting alone seldom works if it is not complemented with an exercise regime. Dieting without exercise makes you lose muscle, physical strength and mental alertness because your body is likely to be dehydrated.
WALK IT OFF!
Walking is among the best exercises for sustained weight loss especially for people with sedentary lifestyles. But the first thing one must do is to drop the dependence on the weighing scales.
“Exercise builds muscle, which is heavier than fat, so you’ll actually put on weight when you exercise. What you need to target is losing fat, not weight,” says Ani Mazlina Dewi Mohamed, a Physical Education lecturer at the Faculty of Education, UiTM,
Walking is alsothe best low-impact exercise because of its low chances of injury. Apart from the lack of motivation, injury and pain are the most common reasons people stop exercising.
A sprain or muscle pull is enough to stop one from exercising for a long while, stopping the momentum that makes an exercise regime a success.
“It takes a longer time for you to see any weight reductions by walking, but it makes you trimmer by toning your muscles. It can also improve posture, helping you to look slimmer and trimmer without actually seeing a drop in kilos,” explains Ani.
Walking is easy to start, it is free and it is fun!
Here are 5 top ways to start a walking regime for a slimmer, trimmer body:
1) Planning your path
The average person takes between 2000-3000 steps a day. In order to lose fat and gain muscle, you need to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, which is equivalent to approximately 8 km or 1 and a half hours.
Don’t have the time? Break them into smaller, more manageable portions. Walk for an hour first thing or in the morning and make up another half hour by parking further, walking up stairs, walking out to lunch instead of driving.
2) Walk uphill
“Walking up a 10 degree incline can almost double the energy value of walking, thus burning more calories. So if you choose a route that includes steps or hills, walking for 45 minutes will help burn an extra 300 calories,” says Ani.
Suffering from lack of concentration, stiff shoulders, memory problems, poor sleep and constant fatigue? Many research papers are now suggesting that these are linked to oxygen deficiency in the blood stream because most people breathe at 30% capacity.
Breathing is a good indicator of whether you are walking at the right speed. If you can laugh and talk while walking, it is possible you need to pick up speed. If your heart is beating so fast that you have difficulty catching your breath, you probably need to slow down.
The ideal speed is where you are breathing faster than before, yet can still carry out a conversation without losing wind. Take some deep breaths at intervals while walking, because the more oxygen you inhale, the more calories you burn off.
4) Make it fun!
Who says walking is boring? Not if you keep varying your style. Try swinging your arms to exercise your upper body, alternate between a walk and a jog or try new routes every other week.
5) Stick to it!
Once you have gained momentum from walking, you will start seeing and feeling the results in a month or so. However, you need to stick to it to stay at the level of fitness you are at.