Walking is one of the most basic aerobic exercises out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective at helping you tone your legs and trim the fat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists walking as one of the best low-impact aerobic exercises for beginners. It’s an inexpensive way for people of just about any fitness level to start shaping and toning their body. Losing the weight may be quicker than you think.
Weight Loss 101
Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit, which the CDC defines as taking in fewer calories than you burn. Walking can help you burn calories, so it can certainly help contribute toward a calorie deficit. Since there’s no such thing as spot treating fat loss from your legs – with the exception of weight-loss surgery – you aren’t in control of where your body burns away the fat during each workout. However, since you’re exercising your legs while working, you will be shaping and toning the muscles in your legs. This can help speed up your results.
The intensity level at which you walk plays a major role in how many calories you burn. For instance, the Mayo Clinic website notes that a 200-pound person burns 228 calories per hour walking at 2 mph. The same individual can burn 346 calories in the same amount of time by increasing the pace to 3.5 mph. So, the more calories you burn and the higher your intensity, the faster you’ll see results.
Using the previous example of a 200-pound person, it would take about 10 workouts, walking at 3.5 mph for 60 minutes, to burn the equivalent of 1 pound of body fat. This doesn’t factor in the muscle gained by walking, which will vary from person to person based on gender, age and intensity level. MayoClinic.com states that muscle tissue burns far more calories than fatty tissue, so you essentially burn more fat as you tone your leg muscles at the same time. This example shows that you can realistically trim some of the fat from your legs and tone them within a month or two by walking briskly every day for 60 minutes per session.
After you’ve walked for several weeks, the workout may become too easy for you and the results may start to slow or completely stop. This is known as a “fitness plateau.” Overcome this problem by increasing the intensity. You can use ankle weights to add a bit more resistance to your workout, or you can challenge yourself by speeding up the pace. If you walk on a treadmill, you can ramp up the intensity by increasing the incline. By adding resistance to your workout, you’ll speed up the results significantly.