You've made the decision to lose 50 pounds. It's a big commitment, but you're ready to make it happen. You are ready to eat healthy, practice portion control, and of course exercise.
Walking is a great exercise for those who wish to lose a lot of weight. Why? It's easy and requires no special skills or coordination. It doesn't require special equipment other than walking shoes. You can do it indoors or outdoors, by yourself or with others. What type of walking routine will you need to lose 50 pounds?
How Much Walking?
One pound of fat is comprised of 3,500 calories. So, you'll need to burn 3,500 calories for each pound you want to lose. If you want to lose a pound per week (which is the recommended amount for sustainable weight loss), that works out to burning 500 extra calories each day.
In order to burn 500 calories a day through walking, you will need to consider the distance you walk. Distance is more important for weight loss purposes than time spent walking, because walking at a slow speed obviously burns calories more slowly than walking at a brisk pace does.
The amount of calories burned also depends on your starting weight: the heavier you are, the more calories you will burn while exercising (that's good news!). For example, if you weigh 160 pounds and walk at a speed of 4.5 miles per hour, you will burn 500 calories after walking 5 miles. If you weigh 220 and walk at the same speed, you will need to walk just 3 miles to burn the same 500 calories.
You can see from these calculations that as you lose weight, you will need to gradually increase the distance you are walking in order to keep losing pounds.
Before any walking workout, begin by warming up. You can do this by stretching (indoors or outdoors) and by beginning at a leisurely pace before ramping up to your fat-burning speed.
If you'd like to increase the difficulty of your walking workout, increase the speed of your walking with intervals of perhaps 2-3 minutes. During these intervals you can push yourself to walk as quickly as you can. After 2-3 minutes, resume your normal pace for 5 minutes, and then do another sprint. Studies have shown that "sprinting" in any form of exercise burns fat more quickly than exercising at a steady pace.
You can also increase the number of calories burned by walking faster or farther. Use hand weights and swing your arms to add more cardio benefits and more fat burning to your workout. At the end of your walk, include a cool-down period of slower walking and stretching.
To continue and maintain your weight loss, aim to walk most days of each week: at least 5. Since walking is not an overly strenuous activity, your body does not need a lot of time to recuperate from a walking workout. Keep walking, and before you know it those 50 pounds will be a thing of the past!