The key to achieving a fitness goal isn’t so much about doing the perfect program as it is being consistent with whatever it is you choose to do. But if your workouts make you miserable, you’ll be way less likely to stick with them over the long haul. When it comes to weight loss, most people like the idea of extremes. They believe engaging in the intense exercise along with a restrictive diet will produce the best results. But this isn’t always the case, and over time, taking such an approach can backfire.
When it comes to pursuing more aggressive body composition changes, a balance of both intense exercise and restorative activity is needed. While most of us have no problem killing it in the gym, we often forgo the easier, more leisurely activity because it doesn’t feel hard-core enough. But that’s a mistake. Any time someone approaches me asking how to lose weight or improve their health, one of my first suggestion is to start walking more. No, it’s not the most revolutionary piece of advice, but it’s simple, requires little motivation, and has many benefits that will have significant effects to improve all aspects of life.
Walking is one of the most overlooked things you can do to ensure you are progressing in your weight loss efforts. Instead of doing all your workouts in the gym, switch it up by getting outside. Go for a long walk or a hike. Being outdoors can even help you feel less stressed.
Training and dieting are both stressors. When added to an already stressful life, this can keep cortisol elevated, causing the body to revolt, thereby making weight loss more difficult. Adding in lots of slow, leisurely walking will help negate the effects stress and elevated cortisol can have on the body, like fat storage, muscle loss, and decreased immunity.
Walking also increases blood flow, which will aid in recovery from intense training. This is also vital as it helps to reduce arterial pressure and to stretch the joints and bones thereby reducing the incidences of auto-immune diseases such hypertension, arthritis, osteoporosis, etc. in the long run.
Moderate intensity aerobic exercise can increase hunger but leisurely walking won’t have the same effect. In fact, going for a walk can help reduce hunger and cravings by taking your mind off food and lowering stress. Also, our weight loss efforts can easily be sabotaged when we turn to food to manage our emotions. Walking can be a great tool for coping with such emotional stress, sadness, anxiety, etc. It also improves mental clarity, making us more productive.
One thing to note about fitness is this. It is important to make your workouts something you want to do. Even then, that’s not to say you’re going to be motivated 100% of the time. But enjoying what you do will make it easier to stick with the habit, which is one of the areas where walking is effective.
Being too focused on a goal can get discouraging if you’re not reaching it as fast as you’d hoped.
Instead, focus on the process and celebrate your small wins along the way.