How to lose weight by walking: “Don’t believe the myths,” warn a trainer and physiotherapist
How can you lose weight by walking? Don’t forget proper nutrition, and learn to walk healthily, advise trainer and nutritional therapist Martin Šaier and physiotherapist Lukáš Klimpera. In their opinion, walking is a natural and beneficial exercise for everyone, but the equation of “lower calorie intake than expenditure” has to be followed if you want to lose weight.
Get to know the most frequent myths and find out what results losing weight by walking can bring.
Walking to get slim? It can work, but there’s a catch.
How to walk to effectively lose weight
1) Make sure you’re walking healthily
Did you know that most people walk unnaturally? In order for walking to bring you joy and benefit your body, you’ll have to learn to walk correctly. The E-book Step by Step to a Healthy Stride will teach you how.
Our tip: The basis for a healthy stride are shoes that free your feet. Are the sneakers you’re wearing designed by physiotherapists?
You can recognize healthy shoes by the wide toe box, flexible sole and lightweight materials.
2) Focus on nutrition
Lower calorie intake than expenditure = weight loss.
Watch out for subtle increases in intake. When we start to exercise, we often indulge in more food without realizing it. When you find yourself saying “I deserve an extra candy bar after my walk!”, think of us.
3) Incorporate exercise into your routine
Strength training will bring results and help avoid the yo-yo effect. And you don’t have to work hard at it every day. Exercising 2x a week will give you better results than visiting the gym daily and then giving up on it a week later.
4) Find a trainer
At least for starters. They will help you set up an exercise plan and make sure you’re exercising correctly.
5) Avoid imperceptible “work-arounds”
Exercising means expending energy, and that’s why you’ll be more tired at first. You often won’t realize that you’re cutting corners – by using an elevator, escalator or taking the bus instead of walking.
Rest is important, but make sure you don’t misjudge your energy expenditure by not counting in these work-arounds.
6) Don’t get fixated on weight
Focus more on centimeters and the fact that you feel fit. Your weight can fluctuate while you’re trying to lose it, as muscles are also being formed.
Trainer: “I recommend losing weight by walking as an addition to training.”
Trainer and nutritional therapist Martin Šaier helps his clients lose weight and build muscles. He primarily recommends walking as an addition to other exercises.
“Walking is an exercise that’s suitable for everyone. But, it should be accompanied by strength training, optimally 2x per week.”
Why you should incorporate walking into a weight-loss plan according to a trainer
- Everyone can do it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t exercise regularly. Start with your own tempo, like setting off for work on foot.
- You can start immediately. No equipment, no membership card to an overcrowded gym. You can start walking towards being slim today. (Yes, today. Not “next week”!)
- You’ll burn calories without the sweat. Head out for a trip and put on your favorite band in your earbuds – you’re already burning calories.
- Walking will keep you fit. By walking, you’ll be moving every day – there’s always time to take a few extra steps.
- It will benefit your psyche. When walking, you’ll switch off, calm your breathing and return home relaxed. We’ll talk more below about the influence walking has on your mental state.
However, Martin Šaier points out that walking itself (or any other exercise) isn’t, unfortunately, enough: “Nutrition is always primary when losing weight. Incorporating exercise into your routine alone is not an effective tool to achieve results.”
Physiotherapist: “Walking is the most natural movement, which even engages deep muscles.”
Physiotherapist Lukáš Klimpera enthusiastically recommends healthy walking. In his words, it benefits the whole body.
When walking correctly, the whole lower limbs including the buttocks, thighs, calves and feet are activated, as well as your upper body, including the abdomen.
Why should you try losing weight by walking according to a physiotherapist?
- Walking is a natural movement. We, humans, have evolved to walk upright, and that’s why walking benefits us the most of all movements.
- You’re activating all your muscles. When walking healthily, you’re engaging both surface and deep stabilizing muscles. While trying to lose weight, try Nordic walking with poles, which will really stretch your whole body.
- Breathing stimulates the organs. Proper walking deepens your breathing, as we’ve pointed out in the article Barefoot and Performance. Deep breathing activates the inner organs and supports their function.
- Walking kick-starts the metabolism. Full breathing and correct muscle tension while walking help the metabolism and prevents fat from being stored.
“If the body is working correctly while walking, you’ll be setting the right tonus and metabolism. This is the best prevention against storing fat.”
Set off on a walk. It’s the most natural method for stretching out your body.
Nonetheless, Lukáš Klimpera points out that natural walking isn’t automatic. We humans have evolved to walk barefoot, but we eventually stopped doing it. We now walk in firm, narrow shoes, which have taught us a new method of walking that harms us.
Our tip: Download the free e-book Step by Step to a Healthy Stride and learn how to walk correctly.
Are you walking healthily? According to a physiotherapist, most adults don’t know how.
It’s all in your head: Walking, losing weight and the psyche
Both a trainer and physiotherapist agree on one fact: Walking is good for your psyche, and losing weight and psychological well-being go hand in hand.
“I like to recommend walking to my clients to relieve stress, and it also indirectly impacts weight loss – mainly in terms of perceiving hunger and for good-quality sleep,” says Martin Šaier.
Lukáš Klimpera agrees: “Imagine coming home stressed out from work. What do you do? You grab something sweet or salty and start emotional eating. This can be avoided by healthy walking, which will help you relax and free yourself of stress.”
Barefoot walking and walking in barefoot shoes significantly benefit psychological well-being.
We’ve already dealt with the impact of healthy walking on the psyche in the article Satisfaction from Head to Toe, so we’ll just reiterate the most important benefits below:
- A healthy stride balances tension in the body. It will relax you.
- It will deepen your breathing. You’ll oxygenate your whole body including the brain.
- It will straighten you out. You’ll feel better in an erect position than slouching, as psychologist Amy Cuddy describes.
- When you walk barefoot, you’ll feel grounded. Studies show that physical contact with the ground is beneficial to us as humans.
You’re stimulating the brain. From the soles of your feet, you’re gaining information that stimulates brain centers.
The “victory position” helps against stress, and stress is your greatest enemy while losing weight.
Why is walking alone not enough to lose weight?
We’d love to promise that you’re guaranteed to lose weight after a walk, but, as Martin Šaier points out, it’s not only about movement.
“People often say: ‘I’m exercising four times a week and regularly going for walks, but I’m not losing any weight.’ This is because they’re concerned only with exercise, not nutrition. Nutrition is the first step towards successful weight loss.”
According to Šaier, you don’t have to weigh up every bite. But, if you want to get slim by walking, at least monitor your approximate energy expenditure and intake. Be careful about what makes up your diet and how much of it there is. According to studies, on one hand we have the tendency to underestimate caloric intake and overestimate expenditure on the other.
You’ll only start truly losing weight once expenditure outweighs intake.
Myths about losing weight by walking: Do you believe them?
Why are people so unsuccessful at losing weight by walking? Because they believe the myths that circulate on the internet. So what’s the truth?
➡️ A minimum of 10,000 steps a day
The round number of 10,000 is just a marketing scheme made up by a Japanese pedometer manufacturer. According to studies, even 7,000 steps daily will benefit your body.
➡️ The most effective weight loss is in a certain pulse zone
“Maintaining a pulse frequency plays no role in the amount of fat being reduced. The amount of energy being burned is more important,” says Martin Šaier.
Yes, you will burn fat more effectively in a certain pulse zone. But, from a long-term perspective, the pulse frequency isn’t important while walking – how you manage to balance energy intake and expenditure throughout the whole week is.
➡️ As long as I’m eating healthy, it doesn’t matter how much I eat
Unfortunately, the amount of food does matter while losing weight. You’ll always need to stick to the equation of less calorie intake than expenditure.
➡️ When I’m losing weight, the number of pounds will continue to decrease
Muscle mass increases as you exercise. It’s heavier than fat, so your weight can sometimes slightly increase or fluctuate.
➡️ I just ate a candy bar – my weight loss program is ruined. There’s no sense in going on!
Don’t give up. Stick to a long-term expenditure of calories over intake. It’s ok if you indulge yourself sometimes. But keep going – every day you’re getting closer to your goal.
➡️ A quick stride is enough to lose weight
However fast or difficult the movement is, it’s not enough if you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning. That’s why you should focus on nutrition as well.
Quick or slow, walking will always benefit you. But it’s not enough in losing weight – nutrition is what matters above all.
Advice in this article was provided by:
Physiotherapist and founder of Ahinsa shoes
Lukáš studied physiotherapy at Charles University, where he got to know Clara Lewitová, a leading Czech physiotherapist who inspired him with her vision of healthy and natural shoes.
Over the course of his practice in physiotherapy, he realized that there were no shoes on the Czech market that he could recommend to his patients. And so Czech Ahinsa barefoot shoes from vegan materials were born.
Nutritional therapist and trainer
Martin graduated from the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University. He has worked as a nutritional therapist in Břeclav Hospital and helped keep athletes in top form.
He now works with people who want to lose weight, gain muscle mass and above all maintain the results of their training. Martin opts for a path of sustainable change, which doesn’t force people to go hungry while allowing them to enjoy their exercise.