There are so many myths people believe when it comes to exercise. For instance, many exercisers think that you have to be literally sopping with sweat in order for your workout to be considered worthwhile at all. “The amount you sweat is very individual,” Michael Fredericson, MD, a sports-medicine physician at the Stanford University Medical Center, recently explained to The Cut. “It’s not necessarily a reflection of how hard you’re working out. People often think, ‘Oh, I sweated so much at the gym earlier, I must have burnt a lot of calories,’ but it’s more an indication of having been very warm.”
But if you polled most trainers and medical experts, they’d tell you that the single biggest misconception we all have is how we view walking. The truth is, walking isn’t just how we get from point A to B on foot—and it’s not a “lazy” way to exercise that’s wildly inferior to strength training or running for long distances. Not only will walking more boost your energy levels, help you sleep, reduce your risk of disease, and ultimately help you live a longer life, but it will also help you slim down and get the lean body you’ve always wanted.
“Walking is one of the most underrated exercises for weight loss,” trainer and health coach Ryan Hodgson recently explained to Express. “Too often in the mainstream media we are seeing overweight people being pushed toward HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, circuits, couch to 5k and much more…. Many of these forms of exercise are much more likely to promote injury. If we could do more to promote walking for weight loss, it would be a huge step in the right direction.”
As Hodgson notes, walking has essentially zero barrier to entry—”it can be done anywhere, it’s inclusive and suits nearly everyone, and doesn’t need any equipment or technology”—and it can burn north of 100 calories an hour. “Walking simply helps us burn more calories which makes getting in a calorie deficit easier,” he says. “It can involve the whole family so is a great way particularly for busy parents, to keep active with the kids, too.”
But if you’re ready to walk your way to a lean body, there are some things you need to do to maximize your walks. Read on to learn what they are. And if walking is your thing, don’t miss The Secret Cult Walking Shoe That Walkers Everywhere Are Obsessed With.
The single biggest secret for getting more out of your walks—especially when it comes to slimming down—is to increase your speed when you go out. Brisk walking, which will elevate your heart rate, will help your body burn your body’s stored fat, as Steve Stonehouse, the director of education at STRIDE, a walking and running class, explained to Parade.
So if you want to maximize your walks, you need to go—but that doesn’t mean you need to exhaust yourself or potentially harm your body by pushing it to the max, or finding yourself in that awkward zone that is half-walking, half-jogging. If you reference the “Perceived Exertion Scale,” which measures your walk’s intensity, you need to be walking at a “moderate” pace in which “breathing becomes heavier.” As a rule, you should be able to talk some, but not be able to sing. If you can sing, you’re simply not going fast enough. For more on this, see The Secret to Walking for Exercise, Says Harvard.
The other way to burn more fat while walking is to ensure that you’re walking uphill, whether it’s an actual hill or you’re utilizing the incline function on your treadmill. “Ultimately, the treadmill is great for cardiovascular training,” says Ollie Laver, a UK-based personal trainer and nutritionist who runs the online training site Wise Fitness Academy.
“While the number of calories burned by each person is based on individual factors, walking or running at an…