Walking for Weight Loss

Slow and Steady is the Key to Long Lasting Weight Loss

By Paul "Batman" J.O'Brien 

B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Cert Clin. IMed., Dip. Adv. OBB, Dip. CHM, M.AFPA., M.C.Th.A.

Walking for weight loss is an easy to understand concept. It compliments the theory of our simple weight loss equation – do more, eat less. Yet so many fitness instructors and personal trainers out there say it’s no good and recommend short sprints or interval training. Who’s right? In this article I’ll explore the science and facts behind walking for weight loss and how it can benefit you.

It all comes down to one thing your heart rate. I explain heart rate in more detail in another article, but I’ll give you a quick recap here. In Heart Rate Training you have different levels. Each level is based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate.

The most effective method for determining your optimal heart rate is for me to do it for you. When you work with me 1-to-1 through online personal training I can get you in the best shape of your life and have you losing pounds of unwanted fat today. Click Here to learn more.

You see, each Heart Rate Level has a different effect on how your body works. For instance at 60% - 70% of your MHR of all the calories you burn you 85% come from your fat reserves. Compare this to the 4th level 80%-90%. At this point only 15% of the calories you burn come form fat.

Now the argument for 20 minute high intensity sessions is based upon the belief that that in 20 minutes you will burn a greater amount of calories than in a lower intensity training session, and that although a smaller percentage of fat is burnt it will still be a greater amount of total fat. You also continue to burn more calories for a longer period of time afterwards.

You see, each Heart Rate Level has a different effect on how your body works. For instance at 60% - 70% of your MHR of all the calories you burn you 85% come from your fat reserves. Compare this to the 4th level 80%-90%. At this point only 15% of the calories you burn come form fat.

Now the argument for 20 minute high intensity sessions is based upon the belief that that in 20 minutes you will burn a greater amount of calories than in a lower intensity training session, and that although a smaller percentage of fat is burnt it will still be a greater amount of total fat. You also continue to burn more calories for a longer period of time afterwards.

The problem is that high intensity training cannot be maintained for a long enough period for your body to begin utilising its fat stores. Fat is used by the body as a fuel after about 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. Before that your body relies on its natural sugar supplies in the form of glycogen. So with high intensity training you end up finishing your workout just as your about to start burning that fat off.

So this brings us to walking for weight loss. Staying around 60% - 70% of your maximum heart rate for most people when they are starting out is the equivalent of a brisk walk. The goal is to perform your exercise of choice e.g. walking for approximately 45-60 minutes. This allows you the maximum time to burn those calories. You also have the added benefit of a higher metabolism for the rest of the day. 

Walking to the gym

Walking for weight loss is free, it’s easy and it’s an excellent opportunity to relax and de-stress and take some time for you. I personally encourage all of my clients to take a brisk walk of 45 - 60 minutes first thing in the morning – BEOFRE BREAKFAST to burn the maximum amount of calories. This serves two purposes 


  1. You get it done and out of the way…no excuses later about how you couldn’t fit it in because of X, Y and Z.
  2. It wakes you up, invigorates and energises and allows you to mentally prepare for the day ahead. My clients have ALL reported increased productivity and energy since the started walking for weight loss.

Many like it so much they also have started walking after dinner – great for the digestion process when coupled with some deep breathing exercises.

The important thing to keep in mind when walking for weight loss is to keep your heart rate up for a continued period of time lasting between 45 – 60 minutes. You should be breathless and working up a sweat but be able to carry on a conversation. Alternatively if you’re into gadgets you could invest in a Heart Rate monitor – the most accurate method of measuring your heart when out for a walk.

Of course if you are quite fit already and training to lose those last few pounds you need to push yourself a little higher to reach your optimum heart rate. If that’s you, try this article on running for weight loss.







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