Walking is associated with numerous health benefits, including calorie burn and the potential to tone muscles. Consistency, intensity, duration and diet all factor into the process, but walking can definitely trim fat off the thighs while building muscle tone.
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Walking on flat ground is great exercise, but walking inclines and declines will really challenge the thighs and calf muscles.
Major Health Benefits
Walking is associated with numerous health benefits, including toning and strengthening of the leg muscles. Your thighs might trim down and look great, but walking does so much more for your body. Your calf muscles, hamstrings, core muscles and even your arms are working while you walk.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, two large Harvard studies found that walking a mere 20-minutes per day can actually lower the risk of heart disease by 30 percent. A 20-minute daily walk is easy to accomplish for most individuals and some people may even reach that goal by simply walking to work rather than driving.
Combining a walking routine with a healthy diet will deliver results far greater than figuring out how to reduce thigh fat. Focus on the big picture health benefits to stay motivated while engaging in regular walking sessions. The long-term benefits of low blood pressure and heart health are fantastic and trim thighs are a nice bonus.
Setting Specific Goals
Thinking about how to reduce thigh fat is a good start, but you need to work on setting more specific goals for long-term benefits. Walking for total health can trim the entire body while increasing your energy and physical capabilities. Walking is a basic function and can benefit all ages and levels of physical conditioning.
Begin by taking a walk on flat ground and measure the distance until you feel tired and challenged without risking injury or excessive force on your body. Time the walk, and record the point where you feel physically challenged but can still carry a conversation. This time and distance becomes your baseline for tracking progress towards your goals.
Now, write down your specific goals on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. If you walked one mile in 20 minutes, make a goal to walk the same distance every day for the first week with one day of rest to recover and prevent strain on the joints. Create goals that are specific, measurable and attainable so you can reach your goal and continue setting higher limits.
The next week, aim to pick up the pace. Continue adding distance and working to set a steady pace in the coming weeks and months. Your annual goals are completely subjective and based on your own personal preference. Goals like walking a 10k or losing a certain percentage of body fat while toning the leg muscles are common.
Read more: 10 Essential Fitness Goals and How to Achieve Them
Monitoring the Results
Reaching a point where your thighs are trimmed down requires monitoring the results of your efforts. Before starting the walking routine, take a measurement of the girth around your thighs and a general body fat measurement. Body fat measurements are easy with a scale offering the feature, although the most accurate measurements are done by a professional trainer or doctor with a set of calipers.
Girth measurements are useful, but keep in mind that new muscle will also factor into the equation. Use girth as a tool to track general progress but default to body fat measurements as the primary metric of value. New muscle can influence the measurement while your thighs are becoming more toned and defined.
Both body fat and girth measurements are important and will prove useful, but they are not the only factors of measuring progress. Your health and the way you feel are the primary means of measuring results from walking. Stable blood pressure, positive mental health observations and simply feeling good are excellent results.
Getting Starting in Walking
Getting started in walking is easy after you've conducted the initial goal-setting process. Based on your goals, build a new schedule each week with designated routes and varying distances, inclines, declines and obstacles. Beginning on flat ground is fine, but adding hills requires more effort from the leg muscles and will help to strengthen the thighs.
While planning routes, focus on safety and drive the routes if necessary to find paths and areas with low-vehicle traffic. Wear a reflective vest and add reflectors to your shoes if needed for walking in low light and dark conditions. Incorporate a stretching routine before and after each walk to prevent injuries and strengthen the ankles.
Parks and community areas with walking paths are ideal, but walking on sidewalks and other trails is not uncommon. Ultimately, the routes depend on the specific area and the resources available. Finding space to walk is typically very easy, but be cautious about vehicle traffic and dangerous places. Focus on well-lit spaces where foot traffic is common.
In terms of technique, walk naturally. Begin slowly and take your time to avoid straining muscles and over-striding. Stretch before and after each walk and pay close attention to how your muscles and joints feel. If walking for exercise is new, working too hard in the beginning can cause stress to your legs. Gradually increase intensity as your muscles develop and become accustomed to the walking routine.
Walking groups are very common, as walking with friends creates a system of accountability and helps to motivate you throughout each week. Groups are safer and create more entertaining exercise; walking is perfect for catching up while burning calories and enjoying time outside.
While some formal groups may exist in your area, building an informal group with friends and acquaintances is easy. Make a schedule with voluntary attendance and set goals together, such as joining a 10k or walking for charity after training together.
Read more: The Fat-Burning Stride-and-Strength Workout
Hiking for Exercise
Walking does not always need to happen on a sidewalk or concrete path. Head into nature and take advantage of the extensive trail systems in the United States. Hiking, especially on variable terrain with inclines and declines, will elevate the heart rate and challenge the muscles.
Start with a good pair of boots that provide ankle support without completely weighing you down. A comfortable day pack is also useful for carrying water, a small first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray and snacks for the trail.Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing just like you would while walking around town.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, hiking requires more movement on uneven ground and the activity works the torso and core muscles more than basic walking exercises. The activity is also associated with reducing stress levels, creating a positive effect on blood pressure, lowering the risk of heart disease and improving your overall health.
In an August 2019 study in the Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications Journal, the benefits of walking were measured alongside surfing on active service members with major depressive disorder. In the study, walking and hiking were shown to be beneficial to mental health – reason enough to spend at least a few days each week on the local trails and walking paths. Although the study focused on mental health benefits for service member living with depression, the results are positive and anyone engaged in walking may also benefit in a similar manner.
Read more: 21 Hiking Trails That Will Inspire Wanderlust
Mixing up Your Routine
Walking is not the only way to trim down fat while enjoying the benefits of exercise. Variety is the key to maintaining motivation and working out different parts of the body. Walking is often a major aspect of an exercise plan but also consider lifting weights, swimming and jogging.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends setting realistic goals, prioritizing health and creating variety to stay motivated in your workouts. Engage in activities you enjoy and keep the routine fresh for long-term success. Walking the same route every day is possible, but varying the routes and exploring new areas is a great way to enjoy your walks more.
While walking and exercising will help trim down the thighs, a healthy diet goes a long way towards losing body fat and maintaining fitness. It also generates more energy, which in turn helps to motivate you throughout a consistent routine. Combining both exercise and a good diet is the key to really trimming down on body fat while maximizing the rewards of your daily workout efforts.
Countless diets and diet fads exist but none are a miracle cure. Eating plenty of vegetables along with a healthy balance of proteins and carbohydrates is a good start. Experimenting and finding a balance can lead to a diet that works well. Consulting with a health professional is also an excellent way to find an effective long-term diet that works for you.
The foods you cut out are just as important as those you consume. Cut out processed foods such as potato chips and eliminate processed sugars. This is not an easy task, but processed foods provide many calories and little nutrition, and they make it easy to exceed your daily calorie needs. On a regular basis this will make you gain body fat.
Additionally, limit alcohol consumption and avoid consuming alcohol before bed. Sleeping well is critical, and your body recovers from exercise and long walks while resting. Skipping the sugar and alcohol while enjoying your rest is useful for energy maintenance, weight loss and a healthy diet.
Read more: 15 Reasons to Kick Sugar
- ACE: "Smart Goal Setting Guide"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Health Benefits of Hiking - Raise Your Heart Rate and Your Mood"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Marching Orders: How to Start a Walking Program"
- Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications Journal: "Comparison of surf and hike therapy for active duty service members with major depressive disorder: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial of novel interventions in a naturalistic setting"
- ACSM: "Finding Your Motivation for Exercise"