The New Year has brought a wave of fresh resolutions, and now you’re facing the challenge you’ve set for yourself. Many people cannot launch themselves into the intense workouts advertised by celebrity trainers every year. Fortunately, walking is a great, low impact exercise with incredible potential for weight loss. While walking helps weight loss no matter how you do it, there are several habits that can make all the difference when you’re fighting to meet a goal. Together, these habits can help you stick to your resolution, avoid injuries, and get the most out of every workout.
The Best Walking for Weight Loss Habits
Warm Up and Cool Down
Take care of your muscles, and they’ll grow. Push them too hard, and they’ll inhibit your progress. By warming up before a walk, you help your muscles get ready to stretch and move. A cool down helps you reap all the potential benefits of flexibility along with transitioning your muscles out of their heated state. Together, these habits greatly reduce accidental injuries, including tendon strains and tears, joint damage, and even achy muscles.
It’s much easier to get up and go walking the second day if your body isn’t protesting the strain you subjected it to during your first walk. Without proper warm-ups and cool-downs, you can damage your overall health, which will set you back even more. Many people feel self-conscious when they warm up and cool down, but these routine practices are well worth it. They may make the difference in meeting your goals.
The first and most important habit on your list needs to be a regular walking schedule. The more often you walk, the better, but most people don’t have time for long walks every day. Make sure to schedule at least three good, long walks throughout your week, though. More walking will help you hit your fitness goals more quickly, but it’s more important to develop a regular habit. Add your walks to your planners. If you use alarms to remind you of important events, program your phone to remind you that it’s walking time. If you use a physical planner, make sure to mark out a regular time on regular days for your walks.
It helps to plan where you’ll walk, too. Rather than letting the rain keep you from walking, go and walk in the mall. An investment in a local gym ensures you will always have a treadmill at your disposal. Many gyms and fitness centers also have indoor tracks for those who prefer to avoid treadmills. However you like to walk, be sure you have back-up locations in mind before bad weather strikes. A little foresight goes a long way, and some careful planning can help set your new habits.
People walk for many reasons, but the best way to walk for weight loss involves changing your pace. Throughout your walk, add periods of intense speed. Adding a light jog or run during these periods will yield the best results, but if you aren’t ready for that, you can power walk instead. Increasing your pace at all will help.
The simplest way to do this is to time yourself. Walk quickly for a predetermined span of time, and then drop to a slower pace for the next span. Alternate these throughout your walk. If you walk in the same location most of the time, you can dedicate the space between specific landmarks for your burst of speed. It’s an easy way to remember without checking a watch.
Study after study confirms that this trick is one of the very best ways to lose weight. Not only does this technique build up your endurance and muscle mass, but it adds increased cardio, which burns more fat at a faster rate. You can add incline variation for maximum results, though this is very difficult to do if you don’t walk on a treadmill.
Feed Your Muscles
Exercise is great for your metabolism. If you don’t meet your body’s increasing demands, however, you could actually push your metabolism into starvation mode. This makes losing weight incredibly difficult. Solving your hunger with junk food, however, will only undermine your goals. Food and exercise work together to help you lose weight, so when you’re planning your meals, be sure to consider your developing muscles.
The best foods for muscles include protein. Protein is basically a pile of building blocks for muscles. While fatty foods like bacon and red meat have a lot of protein, their fat content and calories will undo the good you just did on your walk. Look for sources of lean protein. Nuts make great snacks, dairy is an incredible source of protein, and meats like turkey are the perfect sandwich stuffers.
Every body is different, so everyone’s path to weight loss will be slightly different. Your pace will depend on your health and previous fitness level. The frequency of your workouts will depend on how full your schedule is. Despite these differences, science has proven the effectiveness of several key habits, and they’re great weight loss aids for everyone, regardless of fitness level.
It’s important to start every workout the right way, with an appropriate warm-up routine. Just as your walks should be a regular part of your schedule, warming up and cooling down should be scheduled into every walk. These habits prevent injuries that would shatter your resolve and hurt your overall health. What you eat also contributes to your success. Since you are developing new muscles, you’ll probably have to exchange a lot of your carbohydrate-rich snacks for foods with high protein. The right foods boost muscle growth, and since muscles consume calories even at rest, they are a crucial part of weight loss. To get the most out of your walks, you should also challenge yourself by periodically altering your speed.
Together, these habits make for a powerful weight loss routine. Each habit can help you on its own, but they are far more effective together. As you prepare to fulfill your resolutions, make sure you have the habits you’ll need for success.