Being active is an important part of losing weight or any weight maintenance plan. So when you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight…applying this rule will be the key to your success. Both diet and exercise are very important. Diet has the stronger effect on losing the weight while exercise helps to keep it off.
Walking or hiking is a great way to keep active…there are some awesome trails to explore and mountains to climb, its fun and enjoyable and will aid the calorie burn off. Obviously the duration and the intensity of any walk is the key to how many calories you actually do lose but it will work.
When looking to reducing your food intake, its important to eat safely in order to remain healthy and still lose the weight you require. Your body can survive for long periods of time without eating but this doesn’t mean you should starve yourself. Fasting comes with some side effects, so aim to eat a healthy safe number of calories daily, even if you’re overweight or obese, this will prevent malnutrition and related health problems. Determining a safe daily calorie intake depends on body size, sex, age and level of physical exercise. Fortunately researchers have done this for you and their recommended safe minimum amount is 1200 calories per day for a woman and 1800 for men. For those wanting to maintain current body weights, women require 1600 to 2400 calories daily, while many men need 2000 to 3000 calories a day.
For those not interested in counting calories…you need to choose a good healthy and well balanced diet, with the focus on how many calories are consumed with the numbers burnt off each day…its the preferred method by health practitioners.
For a diet plan or guide have a look at this book…hugely popular with great reviews. One doesn’t have to spend lots of money to lose weight…a good diet plan and exercise is all you need.
Depending on your level of fitness there are a number of options available to you.
If you’re starting from the beginning I suggest building your walks up at a slow and easy pace with increases of no more than 5 minutes per walk. Consistency is the key and developing a walking habit is what you want. Start with a 15 minute walk…walk for 7 and half minutes, turn around and walk back. Do this every day for a week. If that was easy add 5 more minutes to your walks the following week…if not so easy add 5 minutes every 2nd day. Keep adding 5 minutes until you reach your targeted time. Once your walking 30 minutes per walk, I suggest walking 5 or 6 times a week and having 1 or 2 days off. Every 6th week have a down week…use this as recovery time, keep your walks short, this will help to keep you fresh and motivated to keep this habit going.
Walking Schedule For Beginners
Wk Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 15 mins 15 mins 15 mins 15 mins 15 mins 15 mins 15 mins
2 20 mins 15 mins 20 mins 15 mins 20 mins 15 mins 20 mins
3 25 mins 20 mins 25 mins 20 mins 25 mins 20 mins 25 mins
4 30 mins 20 mins 30 mins 20 mins 30 mins 20 mins 30 mins
5 Day Off 35 mins 25 mins 35 mins Day Off 25 mins 35 mins
6 Day Off 20 mins 20 mins Day Off 20 mins 20 mins Day Off
Consistency is the key, so aim for at least 5 days a week. The starting day can be charged to suit your needs but remember to keep your short and longer days the same, i.e. 20 minutes one day and 25 minutes the next etc. If feeling tired one week, don’t increase your time…stick to the previous week’s schedule.
Week 5 is when I’ve scheduled days off but it’s ok to take a day off before then…choose one of the easier days though. Remember every 6th week have a down week…this will keep you fresh and motivated to keep the habit going.
After the 6th week of this schedule, continue to build your walking time up to about 60 minutes. Remember to have your days off and incorporate the recovery week every 6 weeks. Once you feel happy with your fitness level look at the schedule for hiking or even do an event.
When beginning it’s natural to feel a little tired or even have the odd sore muscle but don’t let this stop you from walking…even elite athletes have these days too. If you are in pain its best to stop…have a rest day and if the pain continues see your doctor.
If you have any health concerns you should consult your doctor before starting any fitness program.
Once walking 45 to 60 minutes, you’re beginning to establish a good level of fitness. From here walking becomes more interesting and fun with more things you can do. For example brisk or tempo walks, look for an event to do or simply aim to increase the distance of your long walk so you can enjoy walking a hiking trail…The Tongariro Walk may interest you, regarded as one of the best one day hikes of the world. Whatever you chose these are all great examples or ways in which you will lose weight and keep it off.
Wk Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 60 mins 30 mins
2 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 66 mins 30 mins
3 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 72 mins 30 mins
4 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 80 mins 30 mins
5 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 88 mins 30 mins
6 45 mins Day Off 30 mins Day Off 45 mins 60 mins Day Off
7 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 100 mins 30 mins
8 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 110 mins 30 mins
9 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 121 mins 30 mins
10 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 133 mins 30 mins
11 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 150 mins 30 mins
12 45 mins Day Off 30 mins Day Off 45 mins 60 mins Day Off
13 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 165 mins 30 mins
14 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 182 mins 30 mins
15 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 200 mins 30 mins
16 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 220 mins 30 mins
17 Day Off 45 mins 60 mins 30 mins Day Off 242 mins 30 mins
18 45 mins Day Off 30 mins Day Off 45 mins 60 mins Day Off
This program can also be used as a half marathon schedule as well.
Before beginning this schedule you should have some base fitness…If you can walk 45 to 60 minutes easily several times a week, this schedule is right for you.
If possible incorporate some gym sessions, this is a great way to build strength and endurance, aiding those longer walking days. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday would be good days to fit these in. Low weights and high reps is the key. Always stretch afterwards as this will help recovery and injuries.
Make Wednesday your tempo walking day. Tempo’s are brisk walks which elevate your heart rate. Great calorie burning sessions, these are done at a constant pace about 85% of your heart rate max. Start with a 15 minute warm up, 30 minutes brisk walking, 15 minute warm down.
Always keep hydrated… drink before, during and after your walks. On the longer walking days take food… something healthy with plenty of energy. A mixture of nuts, dried fruit, sandwiches and fresh fruit are suggestions.
Walk off road and with other people…find interesting places to walk, I know walking the streets can’t be helped at times but the more places you explore the more likely you are to stick at it.
Its important to allocate time for stretching, here are a few stretches I recommend:
- Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat.
- Do not bounce. Stretch slowly and hold gently. Feel a gentle pull, never to the point of pain.
- Never stretch a cold muscle, warm up first then stretch. The best time to stretch is after your walk.
Choosing the correct walking shoes is important for injury prevention. Check-out my post on how to buy running or walking shoes.