Diet vs low-intensity exercise
And I’m sure the first thing you’re wondering is – can doing something as simple as walking actually help you lose weight?
Well even though walking is not as hard as running or jogging, it’s still considered a low to moderate form of aerobic exercise.
And if you walk at a faster pace, or for long distances, or you just walk daily, in all of these cases you’ll be adding a good amount of extra calories to your deficit.
Now, most of you have heard of the saying that “you can’t outrun a bad diet”. So you’re probably thinking that it’s very unlikely that you’ll be out-walk a bad diet.
But this is taken out of context. Even though a bad diet will make it physically impossible to lose any weight at all, exercise happens to be just as important, specifically for long-term success.
And when people say things like “80 percent of your results come from your diet”, it devalues the powerful effects that consistent exercise brings to the table.
The reason for this belief is because lots of the studies that compare the effects that diet and exercise have on weight loss end up to the same conclusion.
The conclusion being that dieting alone usually results in more weight loss than just exercising.
But researchers reviewed many of these studies. They realized that the diet-induced calorie deficit and the calories burnt from exercise were often not equal.
Sometimes the diet-only group would be cutting away 1700 extra calories per day. That would then be compared to an exercise-only group that was only burning 200 extra calories per day.
Obviously with a flawed setup like that the diet group will always come out on top. But researchers found that when calories are actually matched, weight loss is also matched.
Thus, they were able to conclude that exercise alone without any form of diet restriction can be an effective strategy for losing weight. (1)
Again, even though you won’t outwalk a horrible diet, as long as you have a decent diet, walking every day can definitely move the scale in the right direction.
Walking burns about 100 calories per mile. If you walk at a fast pace, you can burn between 150 to 200 calories in 30 minutes.
If you walk at that same fast pace for an hour, that could be as many as 400 calories burnt. Burning 200 to 400 calories per day can definitely make a big difference.
In one study participants were instructed to only add 1,000 steps per day without making any diet modifications. (2)
Not only did their leg strength, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels improve, but they also lost weight and some visceral fat, improving their body composition. (3)
Keep in mind that if you were walking at a moderate pace, 1,000 extra steps would only take you about 10 minutes. Other studies also support these findings.
In one of these studies, participants were able to lose about an inch off their waistline and 1.5 percent of body fat just by walking for about an hour, 3 days per week.
Researchers concluded that walking is a safe and effective strategy for reducing body fat and improving insulin resistance.
And that’s all assuming you’re doing nothing else except walking. It would obviously be far more beneficial to add other forms of exercise, like resistance training.
Even better if combining all of that with a well-balanced diet plan.
If you’re walking while also on a solid diet, research shows it can help enhance the effects of your diet and workout plan. (4)
Walking vs higher-intensity exercise
Now, don’t get me wrong. Higher-intensity activities, like sprinting, have a lot of advantages over lower-intensity walking.
For example, with 15 minutes of higher intensity workouts you can get the same results that you would get after 45-60 minutes of a low-intensity workout.
You can also build more muscle and improve your muscles’ ability to use oxygen more efficiently.
Yet, a really low-intensity activity like walking has its own unique advantages.
First, it’s a very low-impact and low-stress activity. This makes it ideal for people with current injuries, or that are currently out of shape.
The same applies to older people and looking to reduce their risk of injury from exercise.
According to one study, the chances of getting an injury from walking is 25 percent lower than getting one from running. Others estimate that it can be up to 50 percent lower. (5)
And the reason for this is because running produces higher ground reaction forces. (6) This simply means that running creates more stress on your joints each time your foot strikes the ground.
With walking, the ground reaction force is about 1.2 times your body weight meanwhile from running it’s 2.5 times your body weight which is substantially higher.
This is why walking may also benefit people that are out of shape and are looking to start slow.
Walking isn’t only great for beginners, it’s also great for more advanced people that are trying to add active recovery between their other workouts.
While high-intensity training can exhaust your central nervous system and leave you tired, walking can actually help with recovery instead. This makes walking a great way to burn extra calories without decreasing your performance for your next workout session.
Again, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t many benefits from running, or from higher-intensity training.
This is especially true when considering the difference in calorie burning rate between all these activities.
This is why I personally still prefer high-intensity interval training over lower-intensity training like walking – because it helps me save time.
But if you would rather spend more time working out at lower intensities because that’s something that you can consistently stick to, then that’s what you should be doing.
And that’s actually another very powerful benefit of walking every day – it’s a lot easier for most people to maintain.
You can walk anywhere so you don’t need a gym. It doesn’t interfere with your other workouts and, as mentioned, it’s relatively stress-free compared to other forms of exercise.
Exercise and long-term weight management
According to research studies, exercise is important when it comes to losing weight.
But it might be the most important thing when it comes to maintaining lost weight. Potentially, even more than diet.
In one study, researchers stated that the most common method for weight loss is diet. But they also say that diet does not provide a long-term solution. (7)
Over 50 percent of the people that lose weight by dieting end up regaining the weight. This makes dietary changes more and more difficult to stick to over time.
These researchers claim that exercise is the only factor on the energy expenditure side of things that can be voluntarily controlled over the long term.
And when I say long term, I’m talking about years, not months.
Something to learn from “The Biggest loser”
The Biggest loser contestants actually experienced this first-hands, as study that took place 6 years after the competition showed. (8)
They found that the contestants that maintained a significant weight loss would either do 80 minutes a day of a low-to-moderate intensity activity (like walking), or 35 minutes a day of a higher-intensity activity (like running).
The bottom line is that while diet is super important for losing weight, consistently exercising may be the most important thing to keep that weight off.
The Biggest Loser contestants were walking 80 minutes per day to maintain their dramatic weight loss.
However, the physical activity guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity, like brisk walking, every week. (9)
This would be equivalent to five 30-minute walking sessions per week, which should be doable for almost anyone.
And that alone will provide many health benefits, including the prevention of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis, just to name a few.
This makes walking a great addition to your current exercise routine. And if you’re not exercising just by walking, you can literally add years to your life.
In fact, one large study involving over a million men and women over 14 years provides evidence of this.
It showed that simply meeting the minimum 150 minutes low-intensity exercise per week can reduce your risk of all-cause mortality by 31 percent. (10)
That should be enough to achieve, even for the people that dread exercise the most.
This study also showed that people that got 3 to 5 times more activity than the minimum guidelines decreased all-cause mortality by 39 percent.
Now, I know 3-5 times more activity may sound like a lot. Especially if you’re just trying to get into the swing of things.
But just starting with the relatively low physical guidelines alone can motivate you to slowly adopt a healthier lifestyle.
It might motivate you to eat a better diet. And when you start seeing some results from your diet, that’ll motivate you to change more aspects of your lifestyle.
And this will ultimately snowball into true, lasting changes.
That’s it, guys. I really hope this post has helped you out and I hope it’s helped you see just how powerful a daily 30-minute walk can be.
I do want to mention that if you happen to be overweight, walking is going to be very beneficial for you. But over time you will have to do more to continue seeing progress.
By eating a well-balanced diet and by adding in weight training 3 days per week, you can be guaranteed to see some impressive results much faster.
You’ll lose a lot more body fat, as long as your diet incorporates healthy foods, while giving you the right amount of calories and lowering your insulin levels.
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To find out more you can click the link below.
- Exercise Alone Is Enough For Effective Weight Loss:
- 1,000 Extra steps per day can help you lose weight and body fat:
- Walking Can Help Elicit Reductions in Abdominal Fat
- Walking Enhances The Effect Of Your Diet:
- 25% Lower Chance of Injury from Walking instead of running:
- Running produces much higher (double) ground reaction forces than walking
- Exercise is paramount for weight loss maintenance:
- Biggest Loser’s 6 years later – Most Successful Continued Exercising
- Govt Guidelines For Activity:
- Reduced Risk Of All-Cause Mortality Just By Walking: