If you’re not particularly the archetypal sporty type, the idea of team sports or spending your weekend sweating at the gym probably won’t sound too appealing. Getting active will not only control your weight, help to beat stress and keep you healthy, toning your body can also boost your self esteem and encourage you to keep up an active lifestyle. Getting started is the hardest part, so let’s take a look at an activity that’s easy, fun and free, walking. It’s proven to have huge psychological and physical benefits but can walking tone your body? Let’s find out.
The benefits of walking
Walking, especially hiking in the great outdoors can work wonders for the mind and body. However, even if you’re not the outdoor type, a walk around the block, a walk to the shops instead of taking the car, walking the dog, it can all add up. Because we naturally walk, it’s easy to rule it out as a sport, however, if you plan to walk to lose weight, it can be extremely effective, with a little planning and by staying on top of your goals. Best of all, it’s free and requires no specialized skills to get started.
Walking regularly can help you to get active, serving as a springboard to other activities, or other types of walking, more on that later. Walking can help to control your weight, build up and strengthen your muscles and boost your morale. Of course, if you are strictly looking only to define your muscles then you’d be better off doing certain specific exercises. However, walking can still help you to stay on top of your weight, meaning any muscle definition you have will be revealed.
For the rest of us, walking is a great start, a gentle learning curve that can be gradually built up and complemented if desired by other activities.
If you’re in reasonable shape you might want to skip this step, if you need to start small, read on. To burn off calories, get in shape and start to tone up your legs, hips and buttocks, you’re going to have to take walking seriously and combine it with any necessary dietary changes, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to outwalk a bad diet. However, getting out and about more often and slowly building up your stamina will give you the opportunity to make a real go of it.
Find a pleasant local walk or pick a destination and enjoy your time outdoors. Slowly increase your distances and when you feel ready try picking up the pace. This isn’t going to happen overnight but walking regularly will have huge benefits and you will see and feel the difference. It’s important to incorporate walking into your daily life, not just scenic strolls, but making walking part of your lifestyle, that way you end up being active regardless of what day it is or how you feel.
If you’re in reasonable shape or you’ve already started to walk regularly, you’ll probably want to increase the intensity of your activity. Short hikes over varied terrain are an excellent way to progress. Not only will you get to see more of the great outdoors and reconnect with nature, a varied terrain will increase your balance, keep you interested longer and burn more calories. Hills are an excellent way to test yourself and increase the number of calories you burn off, while working out your muscles.
Look up local hiking trails and test yourself, while remembering to stay active at home on a daily basis, walking as much as possible. As you begin to build up your stamina, you could give backpacking a try. If you aren’t ready to try out a trip into the wilderness or if you prefer short day hikes within easy reach of civilization, you could always try weighing down a backpack with water bottles. You’ll be surprised how much more of a workout you get even with a small weighted backpack. Carrying a backpack weighing 15 lbs could increase your calorie burn off by 15 % and improve your balance.
Try walking with trekking poles for a great upper body and increased cardiovascular workout, there’s plenty of scientific research into the benefits of Nordic walking. If that’s not for you, you could also try longer hikes over more challenging terrain at a fast pace. Fastpacking, as it’s commonly known, is a sort of speed hiking. It’s a great, intense workout consisting of trail running, hiking over difficult terrain and camping, travelling long distances rapidly carrying ultra-light gear, with the aim of being completely self-sufficient.
If you prefer to keep things local and simple, you could find that briskly walking as part of your daily lifestyle, with a few toning exercises thrown in on the go, could help you to lose weight and in doing so reveal a more toned, healthier you.
Walking is an excellent way for most people to get active, lose weight and boost self-esteem. While walking alone is not going to have a huge toning effect, getting out and active will undoubtedly build up muscles and increase weight loss which will in turn reveal the muscles that were concealed behind extra body fat. To make walking work for you, you’ll need to make it a part of your everyday routine and whenever possible, take the opportunity to increase the pace, difficulty or terrain, to ensure you’re actually getting a thorough work out too.
There are many walking activities and groups that can help you to get started or you can make your journey truly your own. So, can walking tone your body? Yes, although it might be less effective than exercises developed to target certain muscles, but any exercise is better than none, and walking with its psychological and physical benefits combined with the sense of wellbeing that comes from reconnecting with nature, is definitely an excellent way to get started.