Want to step up your walking regime and slim down too? Discover our top walking for weight loss tips
Want to get in shape without joining the gym? Walking for weight loss can help you clear your head and tone up without costing you a penny.
Walking is one of the best ways to ramp up your daily exercise quota and couldn’t be easier to incorporate into your everyday routine. From the commute to work to a lunchtime stroll, it all goes towards the 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity currently recommended for those aged between 19 and 64.
So if you’re resolved to remove a little excess weight fast, check out our tips for making the most of your daily walks…
If you thought racking up 10,000 steps a day was the only way to make walking worthwhile - then it's time to think again. New guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of GPs suggests that a daily 10 minutes brisk walk - which equates to around 1,000 steps - is an easy way for adults to introduce more moderate intensity physical activity into their routines.
Professor Sir Muir Gray, clinical adviser for the free Active 10 app - which helps walkers track their progress - said: 'The additional health benefits that can be achieved by walking at a brisk pace for periods of 10 minutes or more – as opposed to totting up a certain number of steps throughout the day – are undeniable.'
Professor Paul Cosford, medical director of PHE, added: ‘Taking a brisk ten-minute walk each day will get your heart pumping, improve your mood and lower the risk of serious health issues.’
Varying your speed will help build stamina and tone you faster. Use your usual 20-minute walk as a basis, but instead of walking at one speed for 10 minutes, vary things using markers such as lamp posts to help. Walk gently for 5 minutes to warm up. Walk between three lamp posts at your normal speed, then between two posts at a much faster pace, using a short stride and really pumping your arms. Repeat this for 10 minutes. Finish with 5 minutes at a gentler pace.
No lamp posts? Use trees, post boxes, parked cars - anything!
Too easy? All you have to do is pull your tummy in towards your spine and keep it there but without holding your breath. Tricky at first, but combined with cardio-pumping power walking, it really does help shape up your middle.
If you are fitness walking as an add-on to a new diet plan, then adding great sounds will hype your calorie burning. Studies at a US university revealed that women who walked at least three times a week to music lost around 16lb in six months, whereas those who walked in silence only managed 8lb.
There's nothing better than a country walk during these chilly, autumnal weekends. In fact, studies have shown that by spending just 20 minutes per day outside in a natural surrounding you can boost your energy levels.
Being in Nature can even make you feel happier. A new study from the mental health organisation, Mind, showed that taking a walk in natural surroundings increased sensations of happiness in 71% of participants, as opposed to those who walked around a shopping centre who actually reported a decrease in happiness.
Sign up for Ramblers' Walking For Health scheme
If you've been walking for 30 minutes three times a week, start mixing things up and swap one of those 30-minute segments for a long weekend walk. Try to keep things fresh and exciting!
It might sound like sacrilege to serious walkers, but it really does shake up the calorie burning if you break up your 20-minute walk now and again with a little running. Her'?s how:
- Walk gently, then briskly for 5 minutes.
- Alternate running with walking, 1 minute of each.
- Walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
Beginners can start this with gentle jogging, then build to more purposeful running, which could ditch 150 calories a time ? no sweat!
These ramp up calorie-burning by 20%, so it makes sense to use them. The right technique is key: swing poles so that the one in your right hand strikes the ground as your left foot hits the floor, then the left-hand pole hits as your right foot strikes the ground. And so on. Our pick of the best poles? Leki Trail AS Walking Poles, £62.99, simplyhike.co.uk.
If you're lucky enough to have one, don't turn it into a clothes airer. Set it up in front of a TV and video and watch musicals that motivate. We like High School Musical or the Glee series. You'll never miss a walking session again!
When the pool's quiet, try this for a good tone-up that's kind to muscles!
- Start by walking around the shallow end of the pool a couple of times.
- Now walk around again but this time use your arms just as if you were speed walking, hands cupped, elbows at 90 degrees and pumping slightly.
- Pick up speed and try to make the water really move as you go around the shallow end once more.
- Finish by holding the side with arms extended and stepping sideways from one side of the pool to the other and back.
Improve your technique and walking becomes a body-toning workout!
- Lengthen your spine through your neck. This will lift your head, relax your shoulders, help you go faster and prevent back strain.
- Stop clenching! It's tempting to tighten those bottom cheeks, but if you release them you'll get a natural sway, which reduces back tension. It makes your tummy area work harder too - a waist-whittling bonus!
- Shorten your stride We know you're keen to walk faster, but taking giant steps will overtax your leg muscles and put strain on your knee joints. Trust us, shorter really does equal more calorie-burning speed!
If you're trying to hit 10,000 steps a day, you can rack up a few and burn some calories with easy, at-home moves. No gym required!
Vacuuming: Ten minutes will burn 40 calories and add steps to your total. Throw in the odd leg lunge and get a tone-up too!
Making beds: It takes lots of steps to get round a few beds, and it burns about 20 calories in 10 minutes. Good for upper arm strengthening!
Washing windows: More good news for shaping upper arms and shoulders. Use a circular cleaning motion as you walk sideways and you'll add steps, plus 40 calories for 10 minutes!
Dusting: This really ups your step count as you zoom around the house, but has a lower calorie burn of just 30 calories for 10 minutes.