A recent video and article by Yahoo! with a "fitness expert" complied the 5 biggest workout myths.
Myth #1 – Walking is a great way to lose weight.
In other words, this fitness expert, based on her expertise, is saying that walking is NOT a great way to lose weight. However, if she were to look at the research, she may have come to a different conlusion regarding this myth. Let us bust her attempt to bust this proposed myth.
The exact quote from the fitness expert why walking to lose weight is a myth was, "'Going for a walk is fantastic, but if you're in the market for serious weight loss, you're going to have to start changing gears,' Michelle says. 'Gradually build yourself up.' Jogging for 10 minutes burns 100 calories, while walking for the same amount of time burns just 20.'"
This statement is misleading. No one will argue that a higher intensity activity, that requires more energy (i.e. calories), will also use up more energy. But, just because jogging may use up more energy than walking, it does not mean that walking is an unacceptable option for weight loss.
Even some of the article commenters spotted the errancy, and chimed in:
"OK I'm confused ...so what they're telling us is that all of those people including myself (20 pounds to be exact) who walked off the extra pounds that walking didn't do it, it's a figment of our imagination?" – Ronsgirl
"Of course it is true that running will burn more calories than walking in the same amount of time, it simply a more high intensity exercise. However, I lost 20 pounds last yr by taking an evening walk with my wife after dinner every day and making long overdue diet changes." – Michael
"Running and walking actually burn approx the same calories per mile, but of course, it takes longer to walk a mile than to run a mile." – Me
What Does the Research Say?
Research actually supports these commenters thoughts, and not the "fitness expert".
We have plenty of scientific evidence to support walking as a completely acceptable form of physical activity for weight loss, especially when combined with a healthy, nutritious diet. As shown in the following graph, diet produced 9 lbs of weight loss, while diet plus walking either 30 minutes per day or 60 minutes produced about 13 pounds of weight loss in the same 12 weeks.1
Similarly, a group of researchers found that obese, diabetics were able to lose 17 lbs in 8 weeks with diet and walking at least 10,000 steps per day, while the diet only group lost 9 lbs.4 As an added benefit, the walking group saw an improvement in insulin sensitivity, while the diet only group did not.
Even without the dietary changes, a review has shown that pedometer-based walking is effective for weight loss.3 In addition, these results only improve the longer we stick with it!
What about those that have successfully lost weight and kept it off? To no surprise, walking is one of the most frequently chosen and important aspects of physical exercise reported in those individuals who have successfully lost and maintained their weight for at least 6 months.2
If you enjoy walking, then keep walking and enjoy its many benefits. Also, not everyone can participate in highly intense exercise, run, or even jog. Beyond being the most commonly chosen activity for weight control, we can also gain other important benefits, from mood enhancement to improved metabolism, to health and fitness improvements.
Simply walking alongside a healthy diet can improve aerobic fitness, while a decline in aerobic fitness may be seen with diet alone (no physical activity).1 Notice the aerobic fitness of the green line (diet only) went down over the 12 weeks, while the two walking groups experienced an increase.
Walking to lose weight is NOT a myth. Walking should be promoted, rather than demoted to second fiddle to other, more intense forms of exercise. So, if you enjoy walking, and want to use it as a way to lose or control you body weight, then go for it!
** Shoot for 30-minutes of a brisk walk at least 5 days per week, or around 150 minutes per week. **
** Use a pedometer, and try to get at least 10,000 steps per day. **
- Brill, J., Perry, A. C., Parker, L., Robinson, A., & Burnett, K. (2002). Dose-response effect of walking exercise on weight loss. How much is enough? International Journal of Obesity, 26(11), 1484-1493.
- Elfhag, K., & Rössner, S. (2005). Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain. Obesity Reviews, 6(1), 67-85.
- Richardson, C. R., Newton, T. L., Abraham, J. J., Sen, A., Jimbo, M., & Swartz, A. M. (2008). A meta-analysis of pedometer-based walking interventions and weight loss. The Annals of Family Medicine, 6(1), 69-77.
- Yamanouchi, K., Shinozaki, T., Chikada, K., Nishikawa, T., Ito, K., et al.(1995). Daily walking combined with diet therapy is a useful means for obese NIDDM patients not only to reduce body weight but also to improve insulin sensitivity. Diabetes Care, 18(6), 775-778.