Learn to walk before you can run. And then keep walking, because it’s better for your health and belly fat percentage. This is something I came to realize only last year when I found out that on a good day I managed to make 3,000 steps. Which, as you may or may not know – is considered sedentary. Let’s learn how to use walking for weight loss and how to make those 10,000 steps a daily habit. Use the tips here to make your own walking for weight loss plan to drastically improve your mental and physical health.
WE DON’T WALK ENOUGH
It’s no secret these days we don’t walk enough. Nearly enough. Even before 2020 most of us would spend our time either driving or sitting in front of an electronic device to do important work that nobody will remember in 200 years. Just being the optimist that I always am.
I’ve been spending my life like this for a while. Sit me down for an 8-hour marathon chasing dreams and butterflies in my chair. All that after an energizing and super fulfilling workout in the morning. To the surprise of nobody, I gained some weight and a LOT of belly fat, even though I was also eating healthy(-ish).
NOT ENOUGH NEAT
And this is the thing…You can’t outrun a bad diet, but you can also not undereat the lack of movement. There’s this thing called NEAT. It’s short and sweet for non-exercise activity thermogenesis…basically all the movement you have throughout your day that can burn calories and that is not exercising. Turns out that NEAT is running really low for most of us and it plays a big role in the development of the obesity epidemic.
So, after a few mild breakdowns and blaming my body for not being able to burn off so many calories, I finally came to the realization that to be healthy and to stay in shape, I can’t just take shortcuts and compensate for doing something extremely unhealthy (sitting for 9-10 hours) by working out daily and eating healthier meals.
I needed to invest some time and actually start enjoying being active throughout the day. So I started with the easiest thing. Walking.
BENEFITS OF A DAILY WALK
I know for me, whenever I remind myself I can take a walk today (and then actually do it), I am less stressed, happier, get more things done, I’m more creative, and can actually eat pizza without it sticking to my belly.
Here are some of the most famous benefits of walking daily.
WALKING IS NOT JUST FOR “BEGINNERS”
Whoever you are, walking can help you too. Whether you’re
- a beginner and just starting a health or weight loss journey
- someone who works out & eats healthy(-ish), but can’t seem to lose weight
- or just someone who’s really fit yet stressed
walking can make a HUGE difference for you.
Whether you want to lose weight by only walking or to supplement your workout routine by going on daily walks, as a “passionate” walker, here are my best tips on how to make walking more fun, so you can go further every time, build up to those 10,000 steps/day, burn fat and make walking a habit. Something that you just do.
5 TIPS TO WALK 10,000 STEPS EVERY DAY
You can take your walks in the morning, during your lunch break, or after work. Remember: You don’t need to do all your walking at once. In fact, if you’re wanting to reduce insulin resistance I highly suggest you don’t do that).
Take a walk outside (for example 45-60 min) during the day to relieve stress and then try to stay active as much as you can throughout the day.
You can walk 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, even 5 minutes will work, as long as you stay active at least for 5 min every hour. If you’re awake for 16h and walk 5min every hour you’ll walk 80 minutes daily – in my experience, this is about 8,000 steps. Small things do add up. Here are a few things that will make you enjoy your walk more.
1. GET COMFORTABLE SHOES.
You won’t go very far if your shoes aren’t comfortable. Make sure to have shoes that aren’t too hard and aren’t too tight or too loose. I never really cared about shoes and am not super pain sensitive, so I can walk with shoes even if they make blisters on my feet (which I obviously don’t encourage).
2. SET THE RIGHT GOAL.
Now, if you’re walking just to get in shape, burn fat or get creative and reduce stress, then you need to change your mindset. All these things, the benefits (like losing weight and feeling less stressed) are side effects of enjoying a DAILY walk. They are not the goal.
When walking, it’s really important to focus on something that you want to accomplish NOW, today. Not something that can happen in a few weeks (like losing weight).
Maybe it’s working on your to-do list (like getting groceries, paying bills, meeting with a friend) or going somewhere you love or somewhere you’ve always been curious about.
For example, when I was little we moved into a building where I would always look out and see a beautiful lake in the far distance. I’d always imagine that it’s a magical place where something amazing happens. But I never went there for 10 years because I’m a procrastinator. And also, I’ve always been scared of everything.
Then, one day after I was 18, my friend and I decided to just go. It wasn’t a beautiful walk (lots of buildings and cars), but anticipating the lake and spending time with my friend made it fun and more exciting.
I found out it only took us 20 minutes to get there. 20 minutes to get to a place I’ve always been wondering about. Now. Was this lake a magical place? Well, it was a great lake, but nothing really magical was happening there. Except that I found there was a gas station near. But here I was – mystery solved and I walked 40 minutes without even making a big deal out of it. In 40 minutes I know I walk around 4,000 steps. So not bad.
Progress is not the only thing that should motivate you in life, but until you make something a habit and do it automatically – progress can pull you toward your goals. So TRACK.
Track how much time you walk or how many steps you make each day. You can use Fitbit, any other fitness tracker, or an app on your phone to count how many steps you make. Under 5,000 steps is considered sedentary and 10,000 steps are what most experts recommend.
4. LISTEN TO AN AUDIOBOOK OR A PODCAST
Go, explore and take a moment to breathe. However, at some point, you might start to feel guilty about spending more than 5 minutes just walking, relaxing, and watching squirrels and ducks chase each other. Which I know sounds sick, but it’s a real problem.
If that happens, stop making time an excuse for sitting 9 hours until your butt feels DEAD. Instead, listen to an audiobook or podcast while walking. You’ll feel like you’re doing something productive that’s good for your health and your mind.
I love listening to podcasts, but sometimes I really enjoy listening to music or best: nothing. Just the world around me and really being present – this is the type of walk I find most rewarding and rejuvenating.
5. RECORD YOUR THOUGHTS
Think of all the times, you sit down and can’t come up with a good idea. Just can’t figure it out. Then you go get a coffee, make a sandwich or take a shower (well obviously that’s perfect when you’re at the office) and your head is BOMBARDED with GREAT ideas.
This happens to me probably every day. And it happens mostly when I go out for a walk. This is because when you walk you reduce stress, you take the pressure off and you’re truly present.
So much so, that sometimes when on a walk my mind starts spitting out great ideas that I know I’m not going to be able to remember because there are so many of them. So I go ahead and record them.
I use the voice recorder on my phone for this and I just pretend I’m talking to someone on the phone while I’m dictating as if I’m a school teacher. Yes, I’m a little fox. Believe it or not, this actually makes me remember all of my ideas, even if I never listen to the recordings (which happens often). But the fact that I do have them, just makes me feel better.
Well, these were my tips to help you walk a little further every time, so you actually enjoy your walk and not just do it for the numbers. It’s important to remember to not think of walking as something you MUST do to lose weight. Use it as an opportunity to experience something new and exciting each time. You never know what happens when you spend some time outside. Definitely more memorable and exciting things than sitting indoors.