My aim has always been to include more walking in to my every day routine. Added to that is the desire to get healthy, to lose weight and to burn fat. At my first weight before staring on this journey my body was 40% fat! I know awful. I’m pleased to say that it is now 30% fat and that is all down to walking.
Is walking a good way to burn fat? I can say for me walking has been a great way to burn fat. My walking fat loss results speak for themselves having dropped 10% of body fat in about 3 months. My journey is slow but it is often said that if the weight and fat comes off slow it stays off. Whether that is true or not I’ve no idea but I’m happy to report that walking does indeed burn fat including burning fat from many other parts of the body including belly fat, thigh fat and bum fat!
Easy ways to burn more fat during a quick lunch time walk
I often only have 30 to 45 minutes to fit in a quick brisk walk in at lunch time. It’s great for fat burning as it mobilizes your body in to using fat reserves you may have. It’s also known to burn belly fat too which is great for reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease. If you want to burn more fat and you only have 30 to 45 minutes to spare like me then I have some tips for you. These work for me and hopefully you will find them useful to help you burn more fat during your brisk walk. Just to give you the scientific stuff first! To get your body to burn fat for energy you need to walk for at least the 30 minutes as your body burns off sugars first. So getting the 30 minutes in is important to getting your body to use the fat stores. Below are some of what I do to get my body in to the fat burning mode!
Walk in your fat-burning mode
The fat-burning mode is quite simply getting your heart rate to work between 60 to 70 per cent of your maximum rate. What is your maximum rate I hear you ask? I’m no doctor but I came across a very basic way of working out your maximum heart rate. This really is a guesstimate so working this out would not be as accurate as working it out with a heart rate monitor and training but honestly it’s not something I want an exact number on. A guesstimate is ok with me!
The basic formula is this: For women: 226 minus your age For men: 220 minus your age. I will use my age as an example to show you the results.
Female aged 46 would be: 226 – 46 = 180 maximum heart rate If I want 60% of my maximum I multiply the 180 (maximum heart rate) by 0.6 which gives me 108.
If I want 70% of my maximum then the calculation would be 180 (maximum heart rate) by 0.7 and that gives me 126.
So if I want to walk briskly to reduce fat, my fat burning mode is between 108 and 126. Now that I know this, I can go out with my Fitbit which measures my heart rate and I can start walking briskly. I try my best to stay within those two figures. Of course there are times if I am going up hill that my heart rate will go above this but by in large the brisk walk is in the fat burning mode.
This example is based on my age, of course your zone will depend on yours.
If you don’t have a FitBit then you can look out for some signs to help determine if you are in a fat burning mode. For example being in the fat burning mode will mean your breathing will be heavier, you will be sweating slightly, you will feel that you are exerting yourself more but if you are walking with a colleague you will still be able to hold a conversation.
2. At least 30 minutes walking is needed
You do need at least 30 minutes to get the maximum fat burning walk. As your body needs to go from using sugars to using fat stores for energy. Your body will use up sugars first and then move on to your stored fat and this takes a little bit of time which is why it is recommend to walk for at least 30 minutes. If you can walk more than this then that’s great. The length of time means that you are in your fat burning zone and the stores will be used more than sugars or carbs. .
Working at a low intensity is a great way to get rid of unwanted fat but of course targeting fat by walking at a low intensity pace for at least 30 minutes is on one part of the puzzle. If you also consider what you are eating and reduce this then it will also ensure you are targeting your fat stores and your calorie intake.
2. Mix it up a bit with different intensity
High Intensity Interval Training (also know as HIIT) can also help you burn more fat. It is a training technique that goes from giving it all you’ve got intensity in a short burst to then recovering in a lower intensity. This is a great way to get more out of your walking. This type of training will really get that heart pumping which in turn burns more fat.
On my lunch walk I would often do short burst (1 minute) of walking fast and then walk at a slower pace for 2 minutes recovery. I do this 4 or 5 times the rest of the time I am in my fat burning zone. It’s a great way of mixing up your walking to include these different types of intensity. After all they will help you burn even more fat and the variety is certainly fun, interesting and a challenge at times – which is certainly a good thing. I also wanted to touch on some of the reasons I chose walking as opposed to running.
I have talked at length about the wonderful benefits of walking here, There are a few things that really put me of running. While I’m not over the hill yet at 46, I wanted something that wouldn’t lead to injury on my joints. The jarring of running really can make your joints problematic as you get older. I was also concerned that running was too much like exercise and I really wanted to do something that I could fit in with my every day life and not have to worry about having to get home, get changed and then go out again. Of course that’s not to say I would rule running out but at the moment from what I can tell I am getting the best out of walking. I can fit it in with my routine, I can walk in whatever I am wearing and above all I’m not going to be over training or injuring myself.
3. Walking consistently
Walking fits in to my routine every day of the week. Although I give myself a break of reaching the 10,000 steps on a Sunday as that’s normally my day for ironing and catching up on some TV programs! Of course it may seem like common sense but if you can fit brisk walking in on a regular basis then you will burn more fat. Some of the reasons for walking on a consistent basis are:
- Regular exercise means your body burns more fat at an efficient rate as it gets used to the exercise and delivering and extracting oxygen – how cool is that?
- Your body is better at circulation meaning it will use your fat more easily for fuel as you walk on a regular.
- The more walking you do the more calories you will burn and be able to either reduce or maintain your weight – depending on what you want to do.
There are some things you can do to ensure you get your walk in each day…
For example you could schedule your walk in your diary. For example I have decided that 3 times per week I will increase my daily step count to 13,000 steps. I have it in my diary for Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
I try and make sure that I’m realistic and can stick to it. You can get the same from your walking if you need to split it up. If you can only fit 20 minutes at lunch time but could fit in 30 in the morning then do that. Spreading it throughout the day is a great way to ensure you still get your walking in.
Fit walking in to whatever you have lined up for that day. Head over to my post on ways to increase your steps. The tips include things like parking further away, using stairs instead of lifts. I’ve got a desk job so I know how hard it can be to fit walking in. I have been known to step in the wash room!
4. Walking with weights
Using weights can help burn more fat too. I’m not talking heavy weights but the light ones you can put round your wrist. Please don’t walk with weights round your ankles – it could do you some damage! The reason I suggest walking with weights is that a benefit of using means is that it preserves your muscle mass. If you are trying to lose weight, you could lose muscle so using weights help prevent this. Another great reason to use weights when you are walking is that it gets your heart going faster! It also boots your metabolism too! Why is this important? Well it helps you burn more calories and it increases the calorie burn long after you stop too!
Tools to help you on your walking journey
Like I have said on many an occasion you really don’t need much if you are fitting walking in to your regular routine. However there are some things I would recommend if you want to take your walking to the next level.
- FitBit with Heart Rate Monitor: this has really helped me on my journey. It’s great having something that you stick on your wrist and don’t need to think about. It tells you your step count, your heart rate, calories burned, distance travelled, stairs climbed, it has a stop watch, it monitors your sleep and the app can keep you motivated too!
- Shoes: these are can specific walking shoes or they can be trainers. Head over to my blog post on the difference between walking shoes and running shoes.
- Appropriate clothing: I am in the process of getting ready for autumn and winter. It often rains a lot here so I wanted a coat that I could use when walking so I wouldn’t have to use an umbrella and I wouldn’t have an excuse not to go out in the rain either! I’ve also bought myself a pair of snow boots – just in case. Again I don’t want any excuses that I can’t go out walking because of the weather!
Easing in to walking briskly is what I started with. My muscles were sore from sitting so much so I wanted to waken them up from the many hours of having no exercise! My walking would start with an easy pace for 5 minutes. I can remember the very first day that I walked to the train station (40 mins walk) I went out so fast that by the time I reached the end of the road my shins were killing me!
So please start off with an easy pace to get yourself used to the walking.Another reason for staring off slowly is that it gives your body the signal that this is a longish activity so it is going to need to start using fat reserves rather than sugars only.After your 5 minutes at an easy pace start to pick it up to your fat burning zone as you have worked out above. This should be your brisk walking pace.
At this pace you will be breathing heavier but still able to hold a conversation. It is at this point where it will feel like you are getting the best out of your walk and not just out for a leisurely Sunday stroll.
Just to recap here are my top tips for burning more fat during your lunch time walk.
Speed it Up
Use your arms
Mix it up
Mix up your intensity of walking. Slow, moderate and fast if you can. This HIIT will help you burn more fat and for a longer period even when you stop. It really is a win-win situation.
Part of your every day routine
Make walking a part of your everyday routine. Fit it around your schedule, walk to work, park further away, go for a family walk. By making walking part of your every day routine will ensure that you keep it up and stay motivated as you will see great results.
Listen to music
It is so motivating listening to great music when you are walking. It’s amazing how quickly and how long you can walk when you have a wonderful walking playlist. Prepare a playlist of the type of music you like and before you know it you will have walked miles without realizing. Up beat tempos are a great way to walk faster too.
Change up your route
As well as including climbs in your walk, try to vary your route too. Is there a park nearby? If so, walk on the grass. If there’s a beach close by trying walking on sand – it’s tough! Varying your walking route also means it will keep you interested too.
Count your steps
Having a monitor that counts your steps is a great motivator. Walking at least 10,000 steps a day is a great start to getting rid of excess weight and staying healthy. If 10,000 steps is the recommended, see how you are doing before you start on your walking journey. You will get your eyes open!
Different things motivate each of us. Find out what motivates you and use it to incorporate walking in to your routine. Schedule the days you will leave the car at home and walk. Take the scenic route home and stop and smell the flowers! Whatever the motivation is, find it and use it to ensure you continue on your walking journey.