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Walking: The Best-Kept Weight Loss Secret

Updated on February 23, 2008
Walk your kids to school or to the park
Walk your kids to school or to the park
 Walking: The Best-Kept Weight Loss Secret

I know the title of this article raises red flags. How many times have we seen stories in the media about the latest and greatest weight loss miracle? How many people have been fooled into throwing their money away on quick-fixes that promise you will lose large amounts of weight without dieting or exercise? We all know these are scams but some of us still give in to the hype and buy the empty promises of these programs - whether they are pills, supplements, meal replacements, liquid diets, or something else.

There are many reasons for the current obesity epidemic in the United States today. Things like fast and easy access to high fat, high calorie foods that have low nutritional value, lack of time to spend planning and shopping for better food choices, and a general sense of being overwhelmed by the effort required for genuine long-term weight loss. After so many failed attempts and years of yo-yo diets, it's easy to give up.

The good news is there actually is a great weight loss secret. Not only is this something that is easily accomplished, it's also free! It requires no special equipment, except for a decent pair of shoes. It is something you can easily incorporate into your day whether you are a busy executive or a soccer mom. You don't have to take any pills or force yourself to subsist on tiny portions of specially packaged diet foods. All it takes to start losing weight is to start walking.

I know you've heard this before, too. You may have even tried to incorporate some walking into your day, but were disappointed that you didn't experience the "miracle" results that supposedly come in a pill. If so, you're looking at this the wrong way.

Here are some things to keep in mind. We are living in an extremely sedentary society. We don't even leave the house to go shopping anymore, let alone get off the couch. We use our laptops, cell phones, and Blackberries to run our lives. We get our news and entertainment delivered to us through these modern technological conveniences. Don't get me wrong, these things are great. I have them and rely on them as much as the next person. The only problem is that our bodies weren't designed to spend most of our time sitting on our behinds. Just 50 or 100 years ago, people were significantly more active than we are today. They didn't set aside special time to work out. Every day was a work out. They walked to the store. They walked to work. They walked to the corner to visit friends and neighbors. Not only is exercise excluded from our daily activities, we don't walk to the corner for anything when we can drive.

Integrating walking into your day takes a little work at first. It's hard to break that "need for speed" mentality. If you plan ahead, you can walk several miles every day and make it a permanent part of your lifestyle with a little shift in your thinking.

So what happens when you walk? First of all, you burn calories. Walking 1 mile burns 60-80 calories (or more). That might not seem like much, but driving 1 mile doesn't burn any (or a minimal amount).

Burn calories walking your dog
Burn calories walking your dog

You Do the Math

We all know that weight is determined by the number of calories you consume vs. the number of calories you burn. If you burn 3500 more calories than you consume, you will lose a pound. You also have to consume 3500 more calories that you burn to gain a pound. That sounds like a lot, but we all know how quickly the pounds can pile on. They can come back off just as easily. You just have to focus on making calorie-burning activities part of your daily routine. Walking is the probably the best and easiest way to do this.

Let's say you live one mile from where you work. At a casual pace, that's about a 20-30 minute walk. That's not too big an investment time-wise, but it can make a difference in the number of calories you burn on a daily basis. Over the long term, even if you make no other changes, you will lose weight. One mile of walking burns around 60-80 calories, depending on your weight. That's about 150 calories burned each day by spending less than an hour walking. You would lose one pound every 23 days if you incorporated this walk into your day. Again, that's without making any changes to your diet or adding any other exercise.

Other simple ways to add more walking to your life include: walking your kids to school, walking your dog, walking to the store or library, or simply walking around the block after dinner every night.

The best thing about walking is its simplicity. You don't need to do tons of research or invest in specialized equipment. Beware of those who try to sell you things you don't need. Here are just some of the things people will try to sell you if you are thinking about starting a walking regimen. You don't need to buy any of them!

Walking Calories Calculator by Distance Pedometer Steps

Walking Calories and Distance Calculator

Heart Rate Calculator

Pace Calculator

Body Fat Calculator

Body Mass Index Calculator

Caloric Needs Calculator

40-30-30 Diet Calculator

Ideal Weight Calculator

Buying these things is not going to make you lose weight. Walking is. If you do the work, the weight will come off, even without a glow-in-the-dark pedometer that calculates fat calories burned and your BMI while giving you a second-by-second update on the number of steps you've taken and how many steps it takes to burn an ounce. If you focus on these things you will most likely fail!

One investment you definitely do want to make is in a good pair of walking shoes. There are many brands to choose from. I suggest you shop around and find the ones that are most comfortable for you. It's well worth the investment to spend $100 dollars or more on a great pair of shoes. Not only will you enjoy walking more, but you will avoid foot problems that can be caused by wearing low quality shoes.

Don't feel overwhelmed. You can do this. Just get out there and start walking!

High Quality Walking Shoes: Worth the Investment
High Quality Walking Shoes: Worth the Investment


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    • jameswright587 profile image

      jameswright587 8 years ago from New York, USA

      I've also come acrorss an article about the wonders of walking before and also on how it can help in losing weight. Anyways thanks for sharing this wonderful read with us! Hope to read more of your hubs soon!


    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Walking can be not only healthy bodywise but spiritually too. A meditative walk is one of my favourite ways to clear my head. Thanks for info!

    • sdorrian profile image

      sdorrian 9 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks for the comment, Lissie! I agree, it's getting harder and harder to find safe and comfortable places to walk. I guess that's why treadmills are so popular.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      Its one of the things I dislike about many American cities is how hard they are to walk in - in LA I found often there wasnt even a sidewalk! I agree walking tends not to be promoted because it doesn't make anyone on going commissions!

    • profile image

      pgrundy 9 years ago

      Great hub!! I used to be able to walk everywhere and only gained weight when I started working a very sedentary office job that I could not safely bike or walk to. Now I walk our dog everyday and it's much easier.

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 9 years ago from United States

      Well written hub. I am not sure how you can classify it as a well kept secret, however, as this has been well advertised, promoted and prescribed by doctors for as long as I have been around and then some.

      I certainly agree that this is the most effective form of weight loss but simple is not always the case as many factors have to be considered such as weather, the fact that many people have small children to get to daycare before work, not to mention the fact that many people travel long distances to work. If this schedule works for you then it is certainly the best. But my guess is that for the majority, it won't be that simple lol. Great hub, though! Giving you a thumbs up!

      Bonnie Ramsey

    • Health_guru profile image

      Health_guru 9 years ago

      Great article, I totally agree.