Can Walking Help You To Lose Belly Fat?

by Helena Lorimer, Lifestyle Columnist


Published in Lifestyle and Health on 26th December, 2018


Millions of people around the world are obsessed, interested in, and concerned about their weight. And for many, they wonder if a belly fat cure exists. Well, good news! According to researchers at the University of Virginia, there is! And it involves one of the oldest and easiest forms of exercise - walking!

These researchers found that those who walk the same distance, either fast or slow, are able to lose the same amount of calories yet interestingly, the one who chose to walk faster, lost more weight than the one who decided to stroll. They also found that those who took three short yet brisk walks a week were able to lose up to five times more belly fat than those who strolled five times a week.

lose belly fat

Additionally, when you take a brisk walk, you're also increasing your after-burn, which is your body's ability to burn calories post-walk. And what does that mean for you? Less time, better results!

Why is it important to lose weight around the belly?

Many people who have extra weight around the stomach tend to suffer from life-threatening illness, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. This is because, when fat is concentrated in the areas surrounding your vital organs, these organs are more negatively affected than if fat were to be found in your legs or thighs.

Additionally, when fat is stored in the belly, it directly influences the metabolism as when fat cells expand, they leak free fatty acid into the liver which oftentimes, leads to diabetes.

This also causes a knock-on effect on the heart and the pancreas. For that reason, seeking a belly fat cure is not only beneficial for one's self-esteem but also for one's general health and longevity.

What kind of Walking Can You Do to Lose Belly Fat?

As mentioned, walking has a massively positive effect when it comes to losing weight in the abdominal region. And there are several kinds of walking that can target your middle section:

Power Walking

Power walking is a strong but steady walk and after a mere 45 minutes, the body begins to dip into and burn fat reserves which, in turn, reduces visceral fat (internal belly fat). Also, power walking increases your heartbeat, pumping blood to the entire body making you feel more refreshed, healthy and energised.

power walking

HIIT Walking

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and in this case, it would refer to brisk walking for a certain amount of time and then taking a short break before resuming once again.

Easy Walking

If fast-paced walking seems too difficult or unappealing to you, taking an easy leisurely walk too contains benefits. The most obvious being the movement of the body to burn calories, but there's another positive side effect of going for a relaxing walk.

When you enjoy moving your body, you're effectively reducing your level of stress (the production of the stress hormone, cortisol is reduced)..and this is good news! It is widely known, and has been proven, that stress is linked to weight gain as cortisol increases your appetite and craving for junk food.

Walking Plans to Lose Belly Fat

Now that you've read about three different kinds of walking you can do in order to lose belly fat, here is a walking plan, according to your preferred walking style, that can guide you in conquering your middle section.

Walking Plan: Power Walking

In order to warm up, spend at least three to five minutes walking at an easy pace. This will get your blood flowing and will prepare your body for exercise. Then, spend 30 - 40 minutes walking at a steady yet brisk pace. Once you've completed this, spend another three to five minutes walking fairly slowly in order to cool down and to bring your heart rate down.

Repeat this power walking plan at least three times a week for maximum results.

Walking Plan: HIIT Walking

Again, you're going to want to do an easy three to five minutes of relaxed walking before you move onto the HIIT portion of your walk. After this, you're going to want to use the 2-2-1 interval structure for around 20 - 30 minutes.

What does 2-2-1 mean?

  • For two minutes, walk at a steady yet brisk pace. During this time, you'll be able to speak as normal but will experience a quickened breath.
  • For an additional two minutes, speed up your walking while keeping it at a steady pace. During this time, you'll be able to speak short words or sentences, but unable to hold a conversation due to a sped-up breath.
  • For one-minute, walk as fast as you can while moving your arms quickly. This will, of course, be more difficult yet manageable.

Repeat this four to five times and you will effectively burn more fat in less time. Don't forget to spend five minutes cooling down after your walk. For those who are moderately active, this exercise can be done two to four times per week, with a study revealing that three times per week is enough for a healthy heart.

Walking Plan: Easy Walking

For those who don't feel comfortable power or HIIT walking, taking it easy is also a great way to shed the belly fat. And one benefit that this kind of walking has over the other two, is that it is easier on the joints - which is especially helpful for those who carry many extra pounds. In fact, it has been found to reduce up 25% of stress on the joints.

walking

For this form of walking to be effective, it is advised to do it 30 - 60 minutes a day, four to six times a week.

Once you've chosen your favourite method of walking, or perhaps you enjoy all three, there are various other aspects that come into play when walking to lose belly fat.

When Should You Walk to Lose Belly Fat?

The best time of the day to walk in order to lose belly fat, is in the morning before eating breakfast. This is because you have not eaten for several hours whilst sleeping and therefore you won't have any food in your body. For that reason, your body will burn your fat storage, which will equal to a higher rate of weight loss.

After your morning walk, eat a high-protein meal such as eggs, oats, or Greek yoghurt, as it will give you energy and help you to build muscle.

Incorporating More Walking in Your Daily Routine

There are so many easy ways to incorporate more walking into your daily routine that doesn't include putting on your exercise gear and walking for a prolonged period of time.

You could:

  • Take the stairs as opposed to the elevator or escalator in any given situation
  • Get off public transport one or two stops earlier and walking the rest of the way home
  • Walk to nearby amenities such as the shop, post office, or a friend's house
  • Walk your dog or a friend/family member's dog

How Can You Keep Track of Your Walking?

There are several devices and apps you could use to keep track of the amount of steps you take, the number of calories that you've burned, and the number of kilometres or miles that you've walked.

walking

For iPhone users, you can use the nifty Health app which lets you know how many steps you've taken, how many flights of stairs you've used, and the distance that you've walked each day.

Additionally, you can use a FitBit - a wireless device that is worn on the wrist and tracks physical activity. This device has additional features that lets you know your heart rate, quality of sleep, and other metrics.

There are several other pedometer devices that you can consider too, that'll help you keep track of your walking every day.

Other Health Benefits of Walking

Helps preserve lean muscle: For those who change their eating habits rapidly in order to lose weight but don't participate in any form of exercise, it's easy to lose muscle mass. But, when you walk you are effectively preserving and building up your muscle. This, in turn, makes it a lot easier to maintain weight loss.

Boosts your mood: As previously mentioned, when you walk you are decreasing the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn makes you feel more relaxed. But in addition to this, walking increases the production of endorphins - the hormone responsible for feeling happy and content.

Also, walking makes your brain more susceptible to releasing serotonin and norepinephrine - two hormones that reduce feelings of depression.

Boost Creativity: A 2014 study proved that walking actually increases one's creativity and ability to think outside of the box. In this study, "researchers administered creative-thinking tests to subjects while seated and while walking and found that the walkers thought more creatively than the sitters."

Decrease the Likelihood of Varicose Veins: Luis Navarro, MD, and the founder of The Vein Treatment Centre in New York, stated that walking strengthens one's circulatory system which, in turn, prevents the forming of varicose veins.

walking benefits

Improved Digestion: When you walk, you use your core and abdominal muscles causing your gastric mobility to improve exceedingly. This then enhances the functioning of your gastrointestinal tract system, making it run more smoothly when it comes to digesting food, and staying regular.

Increase Life Span: A study conducted on almost 20,000 Harvard graduates showed that those who walked a minimum of 30 minutes per day lived longer than those who did not.

Additionally, it was found that one could increase their life by up to 14 years by:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising 30 minutes or more each day
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Drinking moderately

Tips and Tricks: Walking to Losing Belly Fat

  • For someone around 200 lbs. walking around 10,000 steps per day should lead you to burn around 500 calories per day, without changing your dietary habits at all. This would result in a one-pound weight loss per week.
  • Changing up your walking routine shows better results when it comes to finding that perfect belly fat cure. When your body is pushed to different limits and heights, it will work in your favour. Adding in hills and steep roads is always a plus as it will boost the calories burned.
  • Changing your route in order to avoid boredom. When you walk the same route every day, this will increase the likelihood of you quitting your walks. Listening to music whilst walking is another way in which to stay entertained and it will make the time fly faster.
  • Enter the "Fat Burning Zone" to ensure maximum calorie burning. This occurs when your heart rate is 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
  • Get comfortable walking shoes. You're much more likely to walk at any given time if you're wearing comfortable shoes. Think about doing walking meetings at work, or walking during lunch - you would be less inclined to walk if you were wearing smart leather shoes or stiletto's.
  • Cook dinner. When you're cooking, you are burning calories without even realising it by moving around the kitchen and by merely standing. So, instead of ordering take-out, opt to cook your next meal.

With that, it's more than evident that walking is a great and effective belly fat cure that not only enhances your mental state but also increases your health, keeps you looking and feeling young, and boosts your quality of life in general. And with these walking plans and tips and tricks, you'll be losing that belly fat in no time!

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