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Walking and Weight Control

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Updated March 22, 2014

Three walkers Depositphotos.com

"Why am I still fat?" I get that cry from readers quite frequently, as well as from my own lips when I step on the scale.

The Math: The painful answer is that weight loss and weight gain are simple math: if you eat more calories than you use each day, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you use each day, you lose weight. To lose weight you need to eat fewer calories and/or burn more each day. For sensible, long-term weight control, you should do both. A pound of fat equals 3500 calories. To lose 1 pound a week you will need to expend 3500 more calories than you eat that week, whether through increased activity or decreased eating or both

How Many Calories Do I Burn Walking? Each mile you walk burns between 55 and 140 calories, depending mostly on your weight, with speed and technique being secondary factors. See what your walking calorie burn is:
Calorie Calculator by Distance
Calorie and Distance Calculator
Pedometer Steps Calorie and Distance Calculator

How Can I Burn More Calories Per Mile?
Pick up your pace to 12-minute miles and under, and use racewalk techniques. You will burn more calories per mile because you will be using more sets of muscles than you do at a slower walking pace or by running. Racewalkers burn as many as a third more calories per mile.

You can also burn more calories by weighing more. As you lose weight, you are burning fewer calories per mile. Some walkers add weight belts or weighted backpacks to increase their calorie burn. Be careful in doing this - don't throw off your posture or put more stress on your joints. For those who are losing weight and whose body is used to carrying around more pounds, a weight belt would be a more natural way to carry more weight. But having lost a lot of weight, I suggest picking up the pace instead - if you have 20 less pounds you will be amazed at how much faster you can now go.

Fat-Burning Good News for Walkers:The latest thinking is that walking at a moderate pace is more effective in burning fat calories than intense exercise. The body needs some time to mobilize the processes that dip into your fat stores for calories rather than just burning the simple sugars readily available in your cells. If you walk fast, always begin with a 10-minute warm-up at a moderate pace to get your body into fat-burning mode.
Fat-Burning Walking Workout

Bad News for Sedentary Dieters:If you don't add exercise while dieting, your body doesn't just burn fat, it also burns muscle. Dieters can end up in worse physical condition after the diet than before. Sitting still for much of the day is also being recognized as its own health risk. Health Risks of Inactivity

Good News for Active Dieters:If you build muscle while dieting, you are increasing your metabolism. Those muscles burn more calories even while at rest, even while sleeping. If you have just taken up walking or have begun to racewalk, you are building muscle. If you have always been a walker, you should now add some strength exercises to build muscles while dieting. Upper body exercises are recommended, as walking will not build your upper body. Walking is a weight-bearing activity and will help prevent osteoporosis as you age.

You Still Need to Watch What You Eat
If you have increased your walking and the scales are still going up after a month, you need to look at what you are eating. You need to take in fewer calories. There are many strategies and diets to do this, but I recommend you do it sensibly and with an eye to maintaining good nutrition. Do not go below 1200 calories a day - that is the base needed to provide a variety of food for good nutrition. The free Calorie Count online site lets you track your food and exercise, suggests better choices, and helps guide you to better eating.
10 Things to Stop Doing if You Want to Walk Off Weight

Tools

Walking Weight Control Toolbox
Fitness and calorie calculators, online diet plans and nutrition guides.

Walking Forum

Related Video
Get a Better Walking Workout by Avoiding these Pitfalls

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