I love walking and it is one of first exercises I encourage my clients just starting out with. But will walking help you to lose weight? Is walking enough exercise to see fitness improvements? How does this effect menopausal women?
Walking has many benefits. It can be done almost anywhere and by almost everyone. It can be done with a purpose. You can walk to work, walk to run errands, or walk to the bus. I am frustrated by how cities in North America are becoming increasingly pedestrian unfriendly, but there are still plenty of ways you can walk if you set your mind to it.
Walking briskly gets your heart pumping
Walking can be part of a cardiovascular exercise program. Although the health improvements are not as great as with more vigorous exercise, they are still substantial. If you are new to exercise then walking is a great way to start. You will see an improvement in fitness if you commit to a walking program and you are less likely to injure yourself than you would with a more strenuous exercise program. If you have been walking for a while you will need to increase the intensity to continue to see fitness improvements. Look for ways to up the intensity a little. Increase your pace a bit or look for some hills to make your walk a little bit harder. Join a local hiking club to find a group to explore local trails with. Or combine your walking program with some other exercise like strength training.
Walking calms the mind.
One of the overlooked benefits of walking is how it can calm the mind. Since anxiety is common among menopausal women, walking can be useful for stress reduction. Walking in a park or in the country is the most calming, but sometimes just a change of scenery will help. If you suffer from chronic stress, then the relaxation effects of walking can be enough to reduce the risk of some chronic diseases even without the cardiovascular benefits. Since stress can also contribute to weight gain, reducing stress through walking may help with weight loss efforts.
How much do you need to walk to lose weight?
I have seen outrageous claims that you can lose several pounds a week by walking a minimal amount. That is completely wrong. Strictly from a calorie deficit standpoint a 150 lb person walking 30 minutes at a brisk pace will only burn about 150 calories. If you were to walk every day for 30 minutes it would take more than 3 week to lose a pound. But couple that with some simple changes to your diet and it becomes part of a healthy sustainable lifestyle change.
Weight bearing exercise?
As we get older weight bearing exercise becomes important for maintaining the strength of our bones. Walking is weight bearing and is definitely better than non weight bearing activities like water workouts or stationary cycling. On the other hand, walking is not enough on its own to keep bones strong.
Add some resistance training
Resistance training is a good complement to a walking program. Unless you work at a job that involves physical activity your muscles probably don’t get enough stimulation to maintain your strength and muscle mass. As we age we lose both unless we work our muscles some how. Maintaining muscle mass also helps to keep your metabolism from slowing down.
Should you walk? Absolutely! Should you expect to lose a bunch of weight or see massive improvements in your fitness level?
If you are looking for ways to lose weight during menopause, starting with walking is a good first step. For other ideas about weight loss during menopause download this free guide.