Walking is a pretty fundamental human movement. Particularly for those who don’t want to jump, skip, run or tumble as their only methods of getting around. And while it certainly has its limitation as “exercise,” it can still be employed smartly to help you achieve your health and hotness goals.
Now let me start by saying a fat loss program built around walking is just dumb. The amount of calories you burn while walking around is not going to be substantial. And while any article about “Walk Your Way To A 6 Pack” makes me want to take shots of battery acid, there is definitely still value to be had for fat loss.
In fact, it is BECAUSE walking is so low intensity that it can be an effective supplement to a fat loss program. Because of the body’s finite recovery abilities, you can only spend so much time doing high intensity exercise before you’re going to get injured or burnout. This is PARTICULARLY true if you’re in taking in less calories than you need to maintain your body weight (and if you’re looking to lose fat, that had better be the case).
For people with dialed-in diet and training programs, the addition of walking provides an easy way to burn extra calories and help the body recover more effectively without blowing yourself out. Brisk walking (which I would define as elevated heart rate, but not panting wildly) is a classic, low intensity cardio move employed for years by bodybuilders to get ultra-shredded for competition. While it has fallen out of favor in recent times, I personally still think there can be great benefit to the inclusion of walking for the above mentioned reasons.
As a side note, I’d like to say I’m a fan of low intensity training AND high intensity training. It’s that steady state, middle-of-the-road shit that I hate for most people most of the time. To paraphrase the Warrior- Poet- King of Strength and Conditioning, Dan John, most people’s low intensity training is too high, and their high intensity training is too low.
A brisk walk first thing in the morning for 20 to 30 minutes is not only a great way to burn a few extra calories, but to clear your head and prepare psychologically to have a kick ass day. If you REALLY want to have a great day, focus on breathing diaphragmatically and clearing your mind. Walking meditation is pretty bad ass, particularly in the spring and fall.
Bodybuilders understand the value of walking.
Also: Big dude + Little dog = Silly
Additionally, choosing to walk as much as possible (easy for us NYers) is a great way to up your overall activity level throughout the day. This type of extra activity is referred to as NEAT, an acronym that stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (creation of heat, or calorie burning in laymen’s terms). So if you’re really in it to win it, just start walking to work, taking the long way to the subway, or walking across midtown instead of cabbing it to the next bar health food store.
The key word above is “supplement”: walking is an excellent supplement to a solid diet and workout program. But if you think you can rely on it to create any substantial effect in and of itself… well in that case you probably want to go back and read the rest of the article that you skipped. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
There. Aren’t you glad you went back and actually read the article instead of skimming? Now you can talk about NEAT at cocktail parties. You’re welcome.
So do feel free to add in some brisk walking a few mornings a week if you’re looking to maximize fat loss. Just don’t expect to be able to outwalk poor nutritional choices. The bagel is gonna catch up to you. (See what I did there? Yeah, I hate myself too.)