These 6 Walking Tricks Help You Burn Fat Faster, Science Says
It's almost time for a new calendar, and with yet another fresh year invariably comes resolutions. It's the time of the year to take a genuine look at your life from all angles, whether that be professionally, personally, or physically, and ask yourself what you want to improve. Many resolutions made in January will be long forgotten by March, but one of the most common goals people set for themselves is to lose weight.
If you've resolved to burn more calories and tone up in 2022, don't forget to make walking a part of your plan. Often forgotten in favor of strenuous jogs or intense cardio circuits, a consistent walking schedule is a great way to supplement your weight loss efforts and burn that many more calories on a daily basis.
"Walking is an ideal option in terms of physical activity. It requires no specialized skill—everyone knows how to walk. It's low impact and safe," Dr. Cedric Bryant, president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, told TODAY.
It's true, walking is a fantastic way to start exercising and burning fat right away for fitness beginners. Dr. Bryant suggests walking for at least 45-60 minutes on a semi-daily basis to really unlock the weight loss potential of a regular stroll. Even better, your usual trek around the neighborhood doesn't have to feel like exercise at all. Instead, view walking as a time to unwind and take a breath. That way, you'll get a nice respite and some movement. "I use walking on a personal level when I'm writing an article or editing a book—when I get stuck, I go out and walk," Dr. Bryant adds.
On a related note, this astounding study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology highlights how the act of walking efficiently is a largely automatic brain process requiring next to no tangible thoughts. So going for a walk won't tire you out mentally either!
While putting one foot in front of the other is a good start, there are a number of additional tricks you can employ to burn even more calories while walking. Read on to learn more, and next, don't miss The Cult Walking Shoe People Are Obsessed With.
Walk in the afternoon
Hate the idea of exercising in the morning? You're in luck! If weight loss is your main walking motivator, it just may behoove you to take your strolls in the afternoon. Research tells us that our bodies tend to burn more calories mid-day. This specific study, published in Physiological Reports, tracked a group of overweight men as they either exercised in the morning or afternoon. Sure enough, participants who were active in the afternoon ended up losing more body fat than others performing the same routine in the morning. Moreover, the afternoon exercisers also saw greater improvements in both their blood glucose control and insulin resistance.
If you can't help but feel lethargic in the afternoon, consider drinking a quick coffee before heading out for your walk. Recent research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition finds enjoying a strong cup of java about 30 minutes before physical activity results in an increased rate of fat-burning—especially in the afternoon! "The combination of acute caffeine intake and exercise at moderate intensity in the afternoon seems to be the best scenario for individuals seeking to increase the amount of fat utilized during continuous aerobic exercise," study authors conclude.
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It's always helpful in terms of fat- and calorie-burning while walking to pick up the pace a bit. This study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, confirms that a faster pace translates to more calories burned.
While the study referenced above concludes that running is ultimately more advantageous than walking for weight loss, that doesn't mean you can't burn more calories while still maintaining a brisk walking pace. For example, per Healthline, while a 155-pound adult will burn 176 calories while walking at a pace of 2 MPH for 30 minutes, that same person can burn 232 calories within the same time frame if they walk at a pace of 3 MPH. Similarly, a 180-pound adult will burn 270 calories while walking at 3 MPH for a half-hour, but can burn 409 calories if they pick up the pace a bit to 4 MPH.
Where exactly is the line between a brisk walk and a full-on sprint? The CDC suggests the "talk test." You should be able to talk, but not sing, while walking briskly. If you can barely speak while moving, you've crossed over to running.
Change up the pace
Not crazy about the idea of walking briskly all the time? You may want to try changing up your pace instead. This study published in Biology Letters reports changing up one's pace of walking can result in up to 20% more calories burned than just maintaining one speed!
"Walking at any speed costs some energy, but when you're changing the speed, you're pressing the gas pedal, so to speak. Changing the kinetic energy of the person requires more work from the legs and that process certainly burns more energy," explains first study author Nidhi Seethapathi.
"How do you walk in a manner that burns more energy? Just do weird things. Walk with a backpack, walk with weights on your legs. Walk for a while, then stop and repeat that. Walk in a curve as opposed to a straight line," adds study co-author Manoj Srinivasan, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at The Ohio State University.
Add some incline
Another great way to ensure extra calories are burned is to add in some inclined, or uphill, walking. It isn't fun, but that extra effort expended moving vertically can help accelerate weight loss results. According to Nutristrategy, while a 155-pound person walking at a pace of 3.5 MPH will burn 267 calories in an hour, they could burn 422 calories if they walked uphill for the same time period at the same pace. Additionally, a 205-pound person can burn about 354 calories by walking on flat ground for a full hour, but can burn 558 calories if they walk on an incline instead.
Relevant research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise also finds that a 150-pound person can burn 80 calories while walking one mile on flat ground. If, however, the individual chooses to walk uphill for a mile instead, their calories burned will increase by a full 60% (an additional 48 calories).
Wear a weighted vest
This tip may require a trip to the store, but investing in a weighted vest is an effective way to boost the fat-burning potential of your daily walks. This study from the American Council on Exercise compared calories burned while walking normally on a treadmill versus walking on a treadmill while wearing a weighted vest weighing 15% of the wearer's total body weight. While wearing the vests participants burned 12% more calories.
Another study came to similar conclusions, stating that "using a weighted vest can increase the metabolic costs, relative exercise intensity, and loading of the skeletal system during walking."
Mix in some resistance training
Adding some compound resistance exercises to your walking routine is another great way to accelerate fat burning. Every five minutes or so take a break from walking and perform a few squats, push-ups, or lunges. Why make time for strength-building exercises? Not only do resistance workouts burn calories and fat, but people with more muscle tend to burn more calories, even while doing nothing!
Moreover, consider this study, published in The FACEB Journal. In short, researchers discovered that when our muscles are activated (via resistance training), it actually appears to spark a bodily process that instructs nearby fat cells to accelerate the fat-burning process.
And there you have it! These walking tricks can help you reach your weight loss goals faster. For more, check out 10 Ways to Burn More Calories During Every Walk, Trainers Say.