Experts say that a woman’s metabolism can slow down by as much as 12% between the ages of 27 and 47. This means that while at 27, you could eat 1,800 calories a day without putting on weight, 10 years later that diet could make you gain an extra 11 pounds a year.
The good news, however, is that when people exercise five times a week they establish a permanently higher resting metabolism. Brisk walking raises metabolic rate, and this remains raised even when you sleep.
The easiest way to lose weight
Walking has been the main locomotion system for three million years. Now, the walking gait is considered by most people in Western industrialized countries as the locomotion system of last resort. Because we humans are biomechanically designed to walk, when we drive more and walk less, we are reducing the physical requirements for a healthier life. One of these requirements is a healthy weight.
If you are trying to lose weight or to maintain your ideal weight, dieting on its own is not an efficient way of doing it. Only 5 per cent of people who count calories are successful in the long term. On the other hand, combining a healthy diet and walking briskly is a far better way of losing weight and maintaining weight loss.
One of the effects of dieting without exercising is that it slows down the metabolic rate, and then, when you stop dieting, the body gains the weight back because it has become used to its slower way of working. In contrast, regular brisk walking increases the heart and respiratory rate and speeds up the metabolism, helping to burn off calories and keep them off.
If you walk briskly at 3.5-4 miles per hour, you will burn off up to 200 calories every 30 minutes. Your raised metabolism rate will continue to burn up calories for several hours after you have finished exercising. And there is also evidence that this increased metabolic rate may become permanent.
Basic mathematics of losing weight
One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories. This means that if you are 30 pounds overweight, through the combination of walking and calorie restriction you have to somehow create a deficit of 105,000 calories (30 x 3,500 = 105,000) from your calorie intake.
This number may seem enormous and unattainable, but think how many people try to do it by diet alone, without exercise. That is really doing it the hard way.
A much better way to do it is by creating a caloric deficit of 105,000 through a combination of exercise and diet. Thus, if you set yourself a goal of losing 1 pound per week, very much attainable, you will split the needed deficit between exercise and diet (3,500 ÷ 2 = 1,750).
Thus, to lose one pound a week, you only need to spend 1,750 calories a week through exercise and reduce your calorie intake by 250 calories a day (250 x 7 = 1,750).
Reducing 1,750 calories per week through brisk walking is going to take you about 5 hours per week, 1 hour a day. Walking at 3.5-4 miles per hour you will be burning approximately 350 to 400 calories per hour which amount to 1,750 calories per week (350 x 5 = 1,750).
And here are the good news: by sticking to this protocol, you can lose 30 pounds in 30 weeks or 7 months. Not a bad deal, indeed!
Keep in mind that the amount of exercise that is beneficial for the heart may not be sufficient for consistent weight loss or weight maintenance. Exercising three or four times a week is good for cardiovascular fitness but for weight loss or weight maintenance, you need to exercise almost every day.
Whether your goal is to lose weight or to maintain it, walking briskly should become as important to you as eating or bathing every day. Welcome it as a part of your daily lifestyle. You will enjoy walking knowing that you have your weight problem under control.
Research has shown that people who work toward a well-defined goal, achieve more than those who simply muddle on from day to day with no clear aim in mind. Make walking 5 or 6 days a week your goal; your self-confidence will be boosted when you realize that you can achieve the goal you set for yourself.
And for those who don’t like mathematics, just check the calories you burn while walking in this Calories Burned Walking Calculator