Are you looking for an easy cardio workout that can actually works?
Let us revisit the tried-and-true “steady-state” classic we know as walking.
I mean, everyone from the ancient Greeks to Jesus Christ himself walked. If you didn’t have a horse, you walked. For miles and miles. For days and days. Across countries and continents. If you didn’t walk, you didn’t get anywhere!
Could our ancient ancestors have been onto something?
Is walking really that great for us?
Could this “low-impact” easy cardio really help you transform your body; lose weight, get trim and look better? If a person does it correctly, could it really be as effective as other forms of cardio that are much more difficult?
The answer may surprise you.
Studies indicate that walking (especially long distances) has some tremendous weight and health benefits. For example, The London School of Economics actually posted an article titled “Regular brisk walking is best exercise for keeping weight down, says LSE research” that was based on the fairly recent research of Dr. Grace Lordan, a specialist in health economics.
Dr. Lordan examined metrics from the HSE (Health Survey of England) that reported the activity levels of participants in the survey from 1999 through 2012.
In comparing activities that both, increased heart rate and actually caused the individual to sweat, she discovered that those who briskly walked for at least 30 minutes had a lower body mass index (BMI) and smaller waistlines than those who engaged in regular sports/exercise.
Working out at the gym was among the activities that Dr. Lordan compared to walking.
Other activities included:
- Manual activities (chopping wood, digging, etc)
The key takeaway here is that the walking was done at a “fast/brisk” pace. Not just the typical walk around the block. Actual walking that raises your heart rate and leads to sweating. When walking is done like this for 30 minutes, the results of the study are quite surprising!
Here are some other interesting thoughts…
According to the National Health Service, which provides healthcare to citizens of the United Kingdom based on their need and not ability to pay:
“If you walk 10,000 steps a day, you will probably do more than 150 minutes per week…”
This would meet the British governments recommendations – which are 150 minutes or moderate aerobic exercise per week.
So let’s do some interesting calculations here:
The average walking speed is right around 3.1 miles per hour (mph) according to Wikipedia.
If you walked the UK recommendation of 150 minutes per week (2.5 hours) at just the average speed of 3.1 miles per hour…. that would mean that you walk 7.75 miles per week! (that’s 12 kilometers)
2.5 (hours) x 3.1 (miles/hour) = 7.75 miles. (calculator to right)
Remember, that is the distance if you just walked at the normal “slow” pace.
However, in order to get the weight loss benefits that Dr. Lordan reported in the study I discussed above, you need to be walking at a “fast/brisk” pace. A pace that actually increases your heart rate and makes you perspire.
It’s not that hard though.
So let’s say that instead of the average “slow” pace of 3.1 miles per hour, you now walked at 4.1 miles per hour. A fairly fast pace for most people, but very doable (many of you could even go faster with a little more effort).
That would dramatically change the calculation!
Once again, following the British government recommendations of 150 minutes per week (2.5 hours) the calculation is as follows:
2.5 (hours per week) x 4.1 (miles/hour) = 10.25 miles per week!
Here is the major takeaway from all of this.
If you understand this, you can make walking work wonders for you!
Simply walking at a slightly increased pace or 4.1 miles per hour (just 1 mile per hour faster!), instead of the average “slow” pace of 3.1 miles per hour… would mean that you walk an additional 2.5 miles per week!
10.25 miles per week – 7.75 miles per week = 2.5 extra miles per week!
Not only would you be walking much further, but you’d also have the increased benefits of a far more elevated heart rate and the corresponding weight loss that comes with it. This is how you put yourself directly in line with Dr. Lordan’s Study.
You walked the same amount of time in both instances: 2.5 hours/150 minutes per week.
The only thing that changed was the speed of the walk.
Bottom line: if you are going to put in the time to do it you may as well be walking slightly faster to reap the full benefits. That seems like a lot to some of you, but when you break it down it is not as difficult as you might think.
In fact, it’s pretty damn simple to do.
Pretty much anyone can walk 30 minutes per day.
Again, will this produce the same results that HIIT or some other form of high intensity cardio will? No, probably not for most of you.
However, it is an easy cardio workout that can definitely deliver for you!
And the more effort you put into increasing your pace, the more results you will naturally get.
Now. If you are going to do this, there is a way to push it even further without any additional work on your end. A way to “super-charge” your walk. Like walking on “steroids”.
Conflict is the name of the game in the science world.
One study says yes, the other says know.
Some “experts” believe one thing, others believe the opposite.
It’s just how it is. It is no different when it comes to fasted cardio. Here’s the thing you must come to realize though, most of what you’re reading online was not written by a person who has any “real-world” experience.
I’m here to tell you that working out in a fasted state will enhance the rate at which you burn fat.
A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition found that those performing cardio in a fasted state lost around 20% more body fat than those who had eaten breakfast first. Javier Ganzalas, one of the co-lead researchers for this study concluded the following…
“In order to lose body fat we need to use more fat than we consume. Exercise increases the total amount of energy we expend and a greater proportion of this energy comes from existing fat if the exercise is performed after an overnight fast”
Many people equate fasting to having to go without food for several days in a row.
This is not the case though as I explain here. An average period of sleeping will do the trick in most cases. And this makes logical sense if you think about it. If the body does not have an easily available source of energy it will begin to tap it’s stored energy sources, which are held in the form of fat.
Working out in a fasted state is not optimal if you are tying to build muscle, but if you want to lose weight, it is quite effective. As Jim Stoppani P.H.D. indicates in his article “Fasted Cardio in the Morning”:
“…when you do cardio in the morning before eating anything, your body is forced to burn more fat for fuel.”
Again, the key if you want to trim down is to make your body use its fat stores for fuel.
So many people who are trying to lose weight are making laughable mistakes. They drink sugared down sports drinks and eat power bars while they workout. Well, what do you think your body does with those? They are an immediate energy supply so your body does not need to burn your stored fat. Not to mention that a lot of the excess calories from those sugary foods is stored as body fat!
Fasted Exercise and Insulin
Many people gradually lose their sensitivity to insulin through poor diet. A prerequisite to type 2 diabetes. This makes losing weight much harder due to blood sugar issues. Especially losing the excess fat around the midsection.
One study published in the Journal of Physiology found that fasted training was more effective than fed training at improving insulin sensitivity. Healthy males between the ages of 18 and 25 received a hyper-caloric diet high in fat over the course of six weeks. The males were split into three groups:
- Group #1: Exercised fasted
- Group #2: Ate carbs before and while they were exercising
- Group #3: Did not exercise
Researchers found that body weight increased in both Group #2 and Group #3, but not in Group #1. It was also found that Group #1 improved both glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
There are, of course, many other benefits to walking. Especially long walking.
Other Significant Benefits To Walking
Walking is low impact.
That alone is a major plus and the primary reason many people prefer it over running. Especially for individuals with bad knees or hips who are just trying to get their body back into shape after months and years of not exercising regularly.
The key with walking is to do it for a long enough time to reap the benefits.
A study published in Arterioscler Thromb Vascular Biology examined walkers vs. runners in terms of fitness benefits during 6.2 years of continual follow-up. Both activities significantly decreased the risk of hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Most people believe that running would be better though, but according to this particular research… both forms of exercise produced very similar risk reductions when there was an equivalent energy expenditure involved. This means that for walking to produce the same benefits as running you would need to do it for a longer period of time than running because the energy expenditure is obviously lower.
But, nonetheless… research proves it is highly effective.
It is also important to note that the longer the participants walked, the better the results that were found.
How to Apply Fasted Walking
Fasting is not rocket science.
You don’t need to starve yourself for days on end to get the corresponding weight and health benefits as I explain here.
A simple sleeping period does the trick in most instances.
This means, if you go to bed at 11 p.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. you will have been fasting for 8 whole hours + the amount of time you didn’t eat before you went to bed.
For most people it is around 8 to 11 hours a night.
Let’s say your main goal is to lose weight.
Well, if nothing else changes and you simply drag your out-of-shape butt out of bed at 6 a.m. (maybe go to sleep a little earlier) and slap on your walking attire and walk at the fast pace we discussed above BEFORE breakfast, you will be reaping all of the benefits we discussed on walking + the super-charged benefits of doing it while in a fasted state.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Wake up
- Put on walking attire
- Don’t eat anything
- Walk at a fast pace for at least 30 minutes
If you did nothing else except to make sure your were eating a diet that could actually help you get results, then doing this fasted walking “easy” cardio workout 5 days a week could produce some mind-blowing changes in your body!
It would be low impact too.
Simply walk at the fast pace and get your heart rate elevated and sweat. That’s it.
The two greatest factors that determine your results would be your pace and the amount of time doing it.
Again, let’s say you didn’t have a full 60 minutes to do it.
Well, if all you did was just 30 minutes for 5 mornings each week you would be meeting the 150 minute/10,000 step weekly recommendations as we discussed in the beginning of this post! Only you would be doing it in a fasted state and reaping all of those additional fat burning benefits too.
This is truly “super-charged” walking!
I started walking a little more recently.
This is on top of my current weight lifting and cardio routine.
So yes, I do walk.
Is it my favorite? Nope! Will it help you lose fat as quickly as HIIT or other forms of high intensity cardio? No. I don’t think so. However, if you do it the way we discussed in this article it can really deliver for you!
Walking doesn’t have to be this thing you keep doing on your treadmill each day without noticing any results.
Pick up the tempo and do it in a fasted state and you can effectively super-charge the results associated with this very easy cardio workout.