One of the reasons that I love walking so much is that it melts my fat and it keeps my weight steady. I supplement with strength training and stretching but nothing beats walking to get into your fat burning zone.
I fell in love with walking as a young mom-to-be. My husband and I walked every night. After I had the baby, I kept on walking. I lost every single bit of extra pregnancy weight with no dieting after that pregnancy and two more. It wasn’t overnight but it I always got back to where I started.
I still use walking to this day as my primary form of exercise. If I knew a better or quicker way to keep my middle trim, I sure would let you know. But walking gets at stubborn fat that I cannot lose any other way.
What Happened When I Wasn’t Walking
I had a few years when I wasn’t walking on a regular basis. Over a period of time, I gained about 30 pounds and it seemed permanent. So, I had resigned myself to being heavier and bigger. Somehow, I had forgotten about my secret weapon.
As I moved into a different stage of my life, I turned back to walking and I’ve transformed my body again. Eight years at a desk job had left me overweight and flabby. I got serious, as in I did it almost daily, and my fat began melting away.
What the Experts Say
If you go online, you’ll find qualified people that say low-intensity exercise is the way to burn fat and others that say it is misleading and that high-intensity is the way.
To some extent, I say, whatever you will do consistently is THE way.
However, walking, year after year, remains unanimously a favorite with doctors. If you look back over the past couple of hundred years, walking has always been considered an excellent form of exercise. There have been a lot of exercise trends come and go, but walking still tops out as a favorite.
When you’ve been exercising as long as I have; you see a lot of trends come and go. Jazzercise, high-impact aerobics, low-impact aerobics, running/jogging, yoga, Pilates, and all sorts of other types. I’ve enjoyed several of these and think we should all have variety in our workouts. However, only ONE exercise seems to be recommended by almost everyone—and that’s walking.
Walking IS NOT the runner-up exercise for losers that can’t do REAL exercise!
I tend to gravitate towards easy, low-stress, low-intensity methods. I’m not knocking it, but you won’t find me at your local Cross Fit place. I don’t lift heavy weights. And I don’t run.
I’m not lazy. But I approach my exercise differently than most people. To me, it’s just as important that I enjoy an exercise, that it releases tension from sitting over a computer, and that it relieves mental stress. I ask a lot from my exercise!
While I may not be able to do pull-ups or handstands (yet) I do maintain a healthy weight range, functional fitness, and stable energy through my day. My slow and steady walking is one of the most important components to my overall fitness activities.
Rediscovering the Fat Burning Zone
Several years ago, I learned about getting into the “fat burning zone.” The idea was that if you exercised at a moderate rate for a longer period of time; then you would tap into your fat reserves. It made sense, it seemed to work for me, and I didn’t doubt it.
Recently, as I’ve learned about high-intensity interval training, I’ve read articles that seem to say that long and slow walks/workouts just don’t do what they promise. Or that they do melt fat but not as much as in other workouts.
I can’t scientifically rebut any of that. I just know that I am at my slimmest and fittest when I walk almost daily. Period. I do believe that you can get into a fat burning zone through walking.
Let’s face it. Most of us don’t need to be at an elite athletic status. We don’t have to have a six-pack to be healthy. We want to feel good, look good, and be able to go about our day easily. But we don’t need to look like we’re a model for a fitness magazine.
So, if you like walking, then enjoy it and begin to reap the benefits.
Why Walking Helps You Melt Your Fat
Walking Doesn’t Require Lots of Willpower: An enjoyable walk doesn’t tap into your willpower reserves. When you look forward to something, you don’t have to use willpower or motivation to get yourself to do it. That’s why I always keep my pace relaxed and steady. Walking IS enjoyable. I think people get stressed about the time factor perhaps, but in general, walking has always been considered a very pleasant activity.
I love it so much that it never feels like a chore or an exercise. I also do some higher intensity workouts, push ups, and stretching. I need my willpower for those. Walking, though, is my treat.
You Get in the Fat Burning Zone. I’m not ready to give up on my idea of a fat-burning zone! To get into a fat-burning zone, you have to exercise long enough to get into the zone and stay there for enough time to actually burn some fat. 45 to 60 minutes is ideal for this and that’s why walking is ideal.
I don’t measure my heartbeats or anything like that. I try to walk faster than a stroll but I’m not trying to speed walk either. I’ve read 60 to 70 percent exertion will do the trick. Some days I’m faster than others. Trust your body to guide you to a speed that is perfect for you. Remember, enjoying it and being stress-free are important components to a walking program.
Lower intensity workouts are good for the body as part of your overall fitness program. I don’t depend on walking to meet all my fitness goals. However, I can’t meet my goals without it. Living in Houston, I feel and look my fittest through fall and winter when I can easily walk for an hour a day. During summer when my walks are shorter and less consistent, I put on a few pounds and it shows around my middle. That’s why I call walking my “love handle killer.”
Walking uses fat as fuel. Fat burning isn’t spot specific. Our bodies use fat all the time as fuel. Fat storage, fat mobilization, and fat burning are complex systems that are hormone-driven. That’s why it is so difficult to lose extra body fat through traditional exercise and diet advice alone. The idea behind a fat-burning zone is that you get into that zone about 12 minutes into your workout and then you stay there for 35–40 minutes.
Again, I can’t say with 100% certainty, that this is true. But I love the visualization and the feeling that I am burning fat as I walk. I did read recently that doing something higher intensity a couple of times a week in addition to walking makes fat burning even more effective. That seems to be my experience as well.
Are you worried about spending the extra time?
To be able to enjoy working at a lower intensity you have to work out longer. That totally goes against our modern ways! We want everything to be quicker and more intense. I almost feel guilty saying, take an hour, a whole hour, and go for a walk. Who has time for that????
While it’s counter-intuitive, by taking time for yourself and your body, you reduce stress and energize your body, which in turn helps you be more efficient with the rest of your time.
How Much Time do You Need to Spend Walking?
I recommend that you walk for about an hour 5 or 6 days a week. That’s an important distinction since a lot of recommendations say 30 minutes, 3 times a week. I don’t see a big difference unless I am outside walking at least 5 days a week for 45–60 minutes each session.
Get Into Your Fat Burning Zone with Low-Intensity Walking
If Walking had a fan page, I’d be its biggest fan. I had a boyfriend who once said, “Your solution to EVERYTHING is either go for a walk or give up gluten.”
That hasn’t changed much. I believe walking really does help heal our bodies, mind, and spirit. As Hippocrates said many years ago,
“Walking is man’s best medicine.”
So, if you are tired of all the hard and not-so-fun ways of trying to lose fat, give walking a try. And remember by walking, I mean at least 5 times a week, for 45–60 minutes. In addition to walking, I have a couple of other tips I share in a post about my weight loss journey that you can read here.
For a more complete look at maintaining a healthy weight, check out this post.
Happy Walking my friends!
My One Walking Accessory
The Flip Belt allows you to carry your phone, keys, and money securely and yet easy to get to when needed. When you put it on, it just looks like the waistband of your black yoga pants. And since none of the clothes I wear for walking have pockets, I have to add my own. This Flip Belt has worked great.
Here are some other great posts about walking!
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.