legs of a young man walking
July 14, 2016

Step Your Way to Fitness

Starting from square one to build fitness through walking

 

A lot of our discussion about losing weight at Shape Up Church centers on making changes to your diet – after you’ve Engaged Your Brain and Tongue, of course! Even Bob Harper, the host and fitness expert on the popular show the Biggest Loser admits that when it comes to weight loss, “It is all about your nutrition. It is 80 percent nutrition. It is 20 percent fitness.”[1]

But let’s not short change the importance of that 20 percent! You may experience great results from the changes you are making to your eating habits, but studies show that those results will only be enhanced with a two-pronged attack through diet AND exercise.[2]

Some of you may be reading this, and saying, “That’s nice, Dr. Jeff, but I am just so out of shape. I don’t even know where to begin!”

Taking the first step

I have some great news for those of you in this boat! If you’re starting out very out of shape, walking is a great way to literally step your way to fitness.[3] As you get fitter, you will need to incorporate additional exercise to get stronger, but there’s no better place to begin than getting out and going for a walk. Set a goal to work your way up to getting the 10,000 steps recommended each day.

Can walking be a form of Burst Training?

You’ve probably heard me sing the praises of Burst Training or HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Hands down, there is no quicker, more effective way to maximize your workout and transform your body into a fat-burning machine.

Even if you’re just starting out with taking a daily walk, you can actually take a “burst” approach to walking, and get even better results! In one study, a group of walkers engaged in 3 minutes of intense, “somewhat hard” walking followed by 3 minutes of gentle strolling for 5 sets (or 30 minutes total walking), at least 3 times a week. Compared to a second group that walked at a continuous moderate pace, the first group showed significant improvements in aerobic fitness, leg strength, and blood pressure readings.

A later study also showed that the majority of participants were able to stick with this fitness routine for the long-term. The researchers continued to stay in touch with the study participants, and two years later, almost 70 percent of the walkers still followed the regimen and had maintained or improved their fitness level.[4]

Taking a daily walk is not the end-all to a powerful fitness routine, but it is an excellent starting place. No matter where you are on the fitness spectrum, my challenge to you is the same: Get up and go for a walk!

Join the discussion on Facebook: What is one way you can incorporate more walking into your daily routine?

[1] http://www.today.com/health/diet-or-exercise-more-important-biggest-loser-s-bob-harper-t73746

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3406229/

[3] http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/07/03/walking-10000-steps-daily.aspx

[4] http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/walk-hard-walk-easy-repeat/?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=4