Today is National Walking Day, which means it’s of the utmost importance that you dedicate some time to getting outside and strutting your stuff down the sidewalk.
In all honesty, walking is one of the best forms of exercise you can do on a regular basis. The American Heart Association recommends that you engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity on a weekly basis to keep your heart healthy. What better way to get your sweat on than to hit the trails and go for a brisk walk?
You don’t have to be a seasoned runner or hiker to reap the heart-healthy benefits of aerobic exercise—you can intensify your walk with the help of hand-held weights and intervals. In fact, walking for one hour each day could be enough to help you reach sustainable weight loss, depending on your pace and the terrain you’re trekking on. (Related: 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work).
Below, we’ve curated a list of four walking tips that will help you maximize your weight loss.
The time of day matters.
A 2016 study published in Diabetologia, revealed that walking for 10 minutes after each meal helped to lower blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes more so than walking for 30 minutes consecutively at any other time during the day. As Melissa Rifkin, MS, RDN, CDN points out, managing blood glucose (sugar) levels can make weight loss a lot easier, regardless of whether you have diabetes or not. Walking after you eat can help increase calorie burn and specifically encourage your body to use fat as an energy source.
Walking midday may be most effective.
Getting out in the sun during the workday can provide a host of health benefits, namely increased vitamin D absorption, which can improve immune function and even support bone health. A 2020 study published in Physiological Reports may give you additional incentive to get out during peak sun hours, as it suggests that exercising in the afternoon may increase fat burn.
More specifically, the study revealed that obese men who exercised in the afternoon not only scorched more body fat, but also improved blood glucose (sugar) levels, and experienced less insulin resistance over the course of 12 weeks, compared to those who worked out in the morning. Consider getting out for a brisk walk in the afternoon to achieve the greatest calorie burn.
Walk at incline to burn more calories.
As Dr. Amy Lee, Head of Nutrition for Nucific explained to us before, walking 10,000 steps (or the equivalent of five miles) each day will help you maintain weight, but if you want to shed pounds you’ll want to tack on an additional 5,000 steps. In addition, you’ll want to ramp up the intensity a bit too. Consider walking at an incline on the treadmill, or going up and down hills in a metro park near you.
“If you always walk the same loop in the park or your neighborhood, try to find a hill or locations with more gradient. That way, you are increasing your cardio,” said Lee.
Grab a friend to walk with you.
Not only does working out with a friend help the time go by when you’re working out and keep you accountable, but it may also help you work harder. The findings from a 2017 study posted in Nature Communications suggest that friends can majorly influence each other’s exercise routine. Another study from Michigan State University found that doing aerobic exercise (such as walking or running) with a partner motivated participants to work harder and longer, in comparison to those who worked out alone.
For more, be sure to check out 5 New Weight Loss Facts You Need to Know Right Now, Science Says.