Walking is great for general wellness. It’s much easier to motivate yourself to walk for an hour than to do a short run. It is easier on your feet, knees, legs and bodies in general. But what about walking for fitness and weight loss?
The most important point is that you will need to walk fast enough to achieve a fat burning walking pace.
Would walking at a brisk pace suffice?
Walking briskly us a medium intensity cardio exercise. The speed of a brisk pace is different for each person as it depends on your heart rate, age, and level of fitness.
What is an average brisk walking pace? 6 minutes per kilometre is jogging, and 8-9 minutes per kilometre is a fairly fast walk. That would give you a 5 kilometre walk in about 40-45 minutes, which is a nice brisk walk.
When you are first getting used to knowing what the different exercise zones feel like, it is useful to take your exercise pulse or wear a fitness tracker or heart rate monitor that shows your heart rate continuously.
The zones to aim for are:
- 50—60% of maximum – this is known as your healthy heart zone.
- 60-70% of maximum – this is the fitness zone and is a moderate intensity exercise. This zone should be your goal for most of your walking workouts for fitness or weight loss.
- 70-80% of maximum – this is the aerobic zone and will give you a good intensity work out. At this intensity, you are breathing very hard and only able to speak in short phrases.
If you use Fitbit or Apple Watch or another fitness tracker to track your running and walking, you will be surprised to learn that the calories burned by a brisk walk will be a fairly high percentage of what they would be on a jog. That will help you understand what the moderate-intensity zone feels like and what heart rate will put you into that zone.
You will be able to burn more calories in a set amount of time if you walk faster, but if you always stop after a mile you will see little difference. If you add hills or running intervals you can burn more calories for a set distance.
As regards tracking, Fitbit is our favourite and they do some very reasonably priced trackers that will give you the basics.
So is walking actually of benefit to fitness? Yes, once you up the pace significantly and ensure that your heart running gets going!