Science has amply demonstrated the important benefits of walking for our health, but it can also become an ally in losing weight, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition.

The research was conducted in people with obesity who restricted their caloric intake to between 500 and 800 per day. One group walked 3 hours a week at one time, while the other group did not walk. Although they all lost weight, those who walked lost 1.8 kilos more than those who did not.

There are no excuses, and it’s time to get going. But how long?

Walking is the easiest and cheapest way to comply with the general recommendation made by the WHO (World Health Organization) to do 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise. Experts recommend an average of 45 minutes of constant walking daily. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion of the United States Government also emphasizes that it would be enough to achieve our goal in a healthy way by walking about 150 minutes a week, that is, two and a half hours . However, the key to eliminating fat is not in time but in intensity .

The ideal is to walk between 5 and 8 kilometers per hour , which is the speed at which between 60% and 70% of the maximum heart rate is reached and with which the ‘endurance zone’ is reached , according to a study from the United States National Library of Medicine . At this time, most of the calories burned to send energy to the muscles come from fat , and therefore weight loss is facilitated.

Increased energy expenditure (EE) is a key component in maintaining a healthy body mass. Walking and running are 2 common aerobic activities that increase EE above resting values. The purpose of this study was to compare the energy expenditure of individuals of average physical condition during a 1600-meter walk and run at 86 min and 160 min, respectively.

Also, you should keep in mind that alternating intervals of higher and lower intensity can help us burn 20% more calories than if we always walked at the same pace, according to a study by the scientific society ‘Royal Society of London’ . In this calculator you can calculate the caloric expenditure according to the distance and the intensity.

The great benefits of walking

Even if your goal is to lose weight, you should know that walking has important health benefits, as stated in a study published by the Arthritis Foundation:

1. Improves circulation

Walking prevents heart disease, increases heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and strengthens the heart. Postmenopausal women who walk one to two miles a day can lower their blood pressure by almost 11 points in 24 weeks. Women who walk 30 minutes a day can reduce their risk of stroke by 20%, and by 40% when they pick up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

2. Strengthen your bones

Walking can halt bone loss in people with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York. In fact, a study of postmenopausal women found that walking 30 minutes a day reduced the risk of hip fractures by 40%.

3. Enjoy a longer life

Research finds that people who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35% less likely to die in the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number skyrockets up to 45% less likely for those who have underlying health conditions.

4. Improve your mood

Walking releases natural pain-relieving endorphins in the body, one of the emotional benefits of exercise. A study from California State University, Long Beach, showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their mood.

5. Lose weight

A 30-minute brisk walk burns 200 calories. Over time, the calories burned can cause you to lose weight.

6. Strengthens muscles

Walking tones your legs and abdominal muscles, and even your arm muscles if you pump them while walking. This increases your range of motion, shifting the pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles.

7. Improves sleep

Studies found that women ages 50 to 75 who took hour-long morning walks were more likely to alleviate insomnia than women who didn’t walk

8. Improves joints

Most articular cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from the joint fluid that circulates as we move. Movement and compression from walking “crush” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the area.

9. Improve your breathing

As you walk, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through your bloodstream, helping to remove waste products and improving your energy level and healing ability.

10. Decreases mental deterioration

A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was less in those who walked more. Women who walked about 2.5 miles a day had a 17% decline in memory, compared with a 25% decline in women who walked less than a mile.

11. Lower risk of Alzheimer’s

A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter mile a day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than those who walked less .

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