We are all aware of the benefits of being active. As we already know, being active can be very different from person to person. For some, it can be lifting heavy weights, playing sports, hiking, dancing, just exercising regularly, really. But for others, it can be as simple as walking.
Since walking is one of the very basic activities, we humans have been doing for so long, it should be the very first activity we start to implement in our lives when starting to move more. Why? Because it is easy. Because everybody knows how to do it. Because it is free. It promotes better posture, blood circulation, joint lubrication, metabolism, etc. But there is another hidden benefit of walking that we cannot miss in the fitness and health world. The ability to burn fats.
In today’s blog, we are going to focus primarily on this feature of walking. Now, it is important to note that just walking itself, without proper training and better nutrition habits is not going to transform your body into one of a Greek god, but it can definitely replace the hours of boring cardio.
I will start from there.
Do you know what BMR is? Generally, this is the number of calories you burn to stay alive. As we sleep, breathe, digest, as our heart is constantly working, and our muscles metabolism glucose, as we WALK, we are burning calories. Those calories come from the food that we eat and at the end of the day, it must be equalized. The amount of ingested calories should match the amount of burned ones.
This is the calorie balance. It states that if you ingest more calories than you need, you will gain weight, and if you ingest less, you will lose weight. That is great, and it’s pretty straightforward, but it is not as simple as it sounds.
Our body has the incredible ability to adapt to a certain situation, especially if it experiences it for a long time. If we give signals to it, to build muscles, it will. If we ask it to be efficient with burning calories, it will. And this is what happens with cardio. Our body adapts to this activity and adjusts its rate of burning calories. In other words, cardio slows down the rate at which you burn calories. So you either have to eat less or do more cardio. But it doesn’t improve anything.
Now even though walking can be seen as cardio, depending on the speed you do it with, and the duration, it does not send the same adaptation signals to the brain asking it to be efficient. Walking just burns calories at a steady rate.
If we take as an example, the person who needs 2000 calories per day to maintain their weight. It means that his BMR is 2000. That person does not work out, does not walk, and spends most of his time sitting. If that person starts to run for 30 minutes per day, he will burn additional 200 calories per day. However, eventually, his body will adapt to the situation. And will slow his BMR to 1800 and he will either have to start to run more or consume less. To get results.
If that person, instead of running 30 minutes per day, starts to walk for one hour, he will burn the same amount of 200 calories. The difference is that, this time his body will not see the walking as cardio and therefore adapt, by slowing the metabolism, but rather as a basic activity that is just burning 200 more calories. Those 200 calories are going to be still needed, but instead of slowing down the metabolism, in order to make up for that activity, your body will just use the excess fats to restore the balance. Resulting in more sustainable and long-term weight loss.
Of course, walking is not a magic activity, but it does work. It does because it always has been part of our lives. We just need to start doing it again.
If walking is combined with proper nutrition, that will help the process, as food is not just calories. Nutrition ensures that your body has all the compounds it needs to work in an optimal way. From hormone production to signal-carrying and tissue repairing, nutrition provides the building blocks and helps your body work smoothly.
Speaking of tissue repairing, there is another magic trick that you must be aware of.
Muscle building. This happens with resistance training, by sending a signal to your body to build muscles. Why that can help you lose fats. Having more muscles means a need for more calories. See, muscles are metabolically active tissue which means that they constantly burn calories at a certain rate. The more muscles you have, the more calories you will burn, while doing nothing, or doing basic activities, such as walking.
As an example, if someone’s BMR is 2000 calories and is burning 200 calories for a 1-hour walk, after building 5 kg of muscles, his or her BMR will increase to 2200 calories, and walking one hour will burn now 300 calories. So now, that someone will not only be able to eat 200 calories more, without gaining weight, but also burn more by doing the same amount of activities as before. What more could you possibly want?
Two to three times resistance training per week and a whole food diet will ensure that a sufficient muscle-building signal is sent and there are enough resources for your body to facilitate muscle growth. Make sure you approach exercises as skills and practice that skill, as opposed to just going through the motion. Learn more about the right way to exercise here.
Walking is not meant to get you in shape. Walking is an activity that we have practiced forever and should continue to practice if we want to live a bit healthier. However, it can be also used as a tool to get us closer to our goals. Either way, It is an activity that should be always in our life.