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.
How long walking to tone the legs takes you is up to your determination and willpower. You know you have to change your diet —for the better — and you know you have to amp up your walking workouts. Keep those two goals at the forefront of your mind and start toning those legs.
How to Lose Weight
Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit or burning more calories than you take in. Walking can help you burn calories, so it can certainly help contribute toward a calorie deficit. Since there's no such thing as "spot reducing" fat 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, which can help speed up your results.
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Calories Burned per Hour
The intensity level at which you walk plays a major role in how many calories you burn. For instance, Harvard Health Publishing created a chart for calories burned in 30 minutes of activity. A 185-pound person burns 178 calories per half an hour walking at 3.5 mph.
That same 185-pound individual can burn 200 calories in the same amount of time by increasing the pace to 4.5 mph. The higher your intensity, the more calories you'll burn and the faster you'll see results.
Walking Benefits for Legs
Using the example of a 185-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.
Muscle tissue burns four times as many calories as fat, so the muscle you get from walking can also help you lose more weight. This means 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.
Read more: 5 Benefits of Power Walking
Ramp It Up
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; tackle some hills or 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 that extra intensity to your workout, walking will speed up the results significantly.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss and Weight Training Myths
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Balancing Calories
- Harvard Health Publishing: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- University of New Mexico: Controversies in Metabolism