Walking for weight loss, fitness and bone density. Is it enough?

Well now that depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Is walking enough to increase fitness? A little bit yes. Is walking enough to lose weight? A little bit yes. Is walking enough to increase bone density and help with osteoporosis? Not really.

Here’s the deal. Walking is great! It’s a great beginner exercise, it burns calories, it gets your body moving, and it helps promote mental and cardiovascular health. Walking is an excellent starting point, and of course walking instead of doing nothing carries huge health benefits! But if you want to get big results, and longer lasting results, walking on it’s own might not be enough. Let’s explore these different goals in a bit more detail.

scaleWalking for Weight loss

A brisk walk for 30 minutes will burn around 150 calories. That’s good! But in order to lose 0.5kg a week, you need to burn an extra 500 calories a day. So if the only thing you’re doing is walking, it’s going to take a long time to lose that weight. Obviously your diet will play an important role here too but just dieting can put us at risk of losing muscle, so we need to ensure we exercise as well. When it comes to exercise for weight loss, there’s a common myth that cardio is the best method. The fact of the matter is that steady-state cardio like walking, only burns calories as long as you’re actually DOING the exercise. If you start to do some strength training exercise that builds muscles, you’re actually going to increase your metabolism even at rest. So by building muscle, we increase our metabolism to burn more calories all the time = faster weight loss, and more FAT loss. Don’t worry, you won’t accidentally end up looking like Arnie, that type of body building take a LOT of work, testosterone and a LOT of extra calories!

Walking for Fitnessexercise fitness

If you don’t currently do any kind of exercise, then starting to walk every day will greatly increase your fitness level. Walking more and sitting less is a GREAT thing. However if you’re already moderately active, simply walking isn’t going to be enough to INCREASE your fitness level. The law of adaptation states that the body will adapt to specific demands placed on it, it will figure out the most energy efficient way to carry out that exercise, and then stop adapting until HIGHER demands are placed on it. We can only continue to see improvements in our fitness if we continue to challenge our body with demands it cannot meet. Depending on what kind of fitness you want (endurance for a marathon, agility and/or explosive power for a sport, energy for keeping up with the kids) walking isn’t going to be specific enough to your needs. The best thing to improve fitness is very specific program centered around your needs and goals, including high intensity cardio and strength training.

exercise bone densityWalking for Bone density

In order to improve bone density we need to complete weight bearing exercise, which places stress on muscles, which in turn pulls on bones, forcing the bones to adapt and become stronger/ more dense. Even though walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it does not greatly improve bone health unless it is carried out at high intensity such as at a faster pace or incorporates challenging terrain such as hills. The best thing for increasing bone density is a combination of higher impact cardio exercise and strength training.

Bottom line?

Walking is a good starting point for any health or fitness goal, but if you want to get bigger, better, faster results it takes different and more specific exercise to target your needs. If you need help getting started, a Fitness Enhancement Personal Trainer has all the skills and knowledge to get you on the right track!