Walking can help you to control your waistline, blood pressure and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of brisk walking every week, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can do this exercise anywhere, and it won't cost you a dime to get started.
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Even if you're not walking to lose weight, you will see benefits. Most people put on weight as they age, but a program of regular walking can help to prevent that. A 150-pound person who walks at a steady 3-mph clip will burn approximately 240 calories per hour. The same person can burn 270 calories per hour walking at the brisker pace of 4 mph.
Walking can be a critical part to a weight loss plan. It is especially beneficial to individuals who are just beginning an exercise program, as the risk of injury from walking is very low. The National Weight Control Registry, which consists of individuals who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for over five years, notes that 90 percent of its members exercise for at least an hour an day. Walking is an easy way to fit this into your life. Walk for an hour every day, and you can burn off a half-pound every week without dieting.
If you are just starting out with a walking program, begin by walking a 17- to 20-minute mile. Increase your time until you can walk for 30 minutes at a time. Slowly increase your pace until you are walking 3.5 to 4.5 mph for 45 minutes three to four times a week. If you are not feeling sore, you can walk every day, although you may want to vary your routine so that your muscles do not become accustomed to only one workout.
Increasing the Difficulty
Once you are accustomed to walking briskly every day, increase the difficulty to give yourself the most benefits. Add hand weights to pump as you walk, which will burn additional calories while working your biceps. Strap on a backpack and go on a day hike -- you can burn as many as 475 calories an hour. Head for the hills now and then. Walking uphill at a pace of 3.5 mph can burn more than 400 calories an hour.