Every Step Counts!

Here are some facts:
The recommended level of physical activity for adults is 150-300 minutes of “moderate” activity per week, or 75-150 minutes of “vigorous” activity.  In other words, an average of 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 days a week is the minimum amount needed to achieve overall health benefits and reduce the risk of adverse health conditions (obesity related diseases, diabetes, heart or lung issues, hypertension, cancer, bone and joint injuries, etc…).  An example of a moderate level of physical activity is walking at a 3-4 mph pace (15-20 minutes per mile pace).

While the above facts are crucially important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they only serve to do that… MAINTAIN.  The recommended level of physical activity only speaks to health conditions and weight maintenance.  If you need to LOSE weight, then you will most likely have to increase your level of activity to more than 150-300 minutes per week. 

Move Your Way - Physical Activity Guidelines

Step It Up, Step In Time

If you want to lose weight, the “simple” answer is to adhere to a healthy diet plus consistent exercise (your diet is most important).  The healthy, sustainable way to lose weight is to achieve a caloric deficit of 3500 calories per week, meaning that you need to burn off 500 more calories per day than you consume.  This equates to losing one pound per week.  It may not seem like much, but losing a pound a week consistently to reach your weight loss goal is no easy task.  If it was, then I’m sure you wouldn’t be reading this.  So how do we achieve this magic caloric deficit number?

In terms of an exercise program, a mixture of resistance training with cardio is ideal.  If I may…working with a certified personal trainer (read: Here We Go Fitness NYC) is your answer for finding an exercise program that works best for YOU to achieve your weight loss goal.  But here is another fun fact many other trainers may not tell you about: workouts alone will not get you to your goal.  Think about it this way:  if you workout 3 days a week, an hour per workout, that’s only 180 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity (depending on your type of exercise).  Recall that the average overweight adult will likely need MORE than 300 minutes a week to burn enough calories to help achieve a caloric deficit (diet is of course most important). 

A proper weight loss exercise program must contain a number of moderate to vigorous workouts PLUS an active level of physical activity in order to make that magic number manageable to achieve consistently..  Not to bury the lead here, (although clearly i have…) but this is why WALKING is so important.

Walking For Weight Loss

Jogging, running, or some other cardio activity pays dividends, but let’s stick with walking.  The reason why 10,000 steps per day is a popular goal is not because 10,000 steps equates to a specific number of calories burned to get you to lose weight.  Walking helps you achieve the daily minimum amount of physical activity (daily calories burned) to help reduce health risks so that your exercise can further target fat loss and increase muscle/bone strength.  Increasing your level of daily physical activity will improve your overall health and avoid highly restrictive diets just to achieve a deficit.  For example, increasing your caloric expenditure 250 calories per day while reducing your intake by 250 calories will help you get to that magic number at a much more manageable and sustainable pace than reducing your calories by 500-1000 calories per day.  If you have to consume 1,800 calories per day just to maintain bodily functions (resting metabolic rate), you’ll find it very difficult and quite unhealthy to eat 1,000 calories or less.

Courtesy: National Academy of Sports Medicine

Here’s the takeaway if you want to lose weight:  Get active in your daily life in addition to exercise.  At the very least, WALK.

Find out your average daily step total by using a pedometer (step counter) and then steadily increase your steps.  If you average, 7,000 steps, aim for 8,000.  Work your way up to 10,000.  But be consistent!  A consistent daily average step count is better than a peak step count one day followed by barely any steps the next.  How long and how often you walk per week is more important for your weight loss goal than how intense (walking speed, high elevation, etc…).  Build the habit!

Ideally, walk at a pace of at least 3.0 mph (or faster than 20 minutes per mile) for at least 30 minutes.  For example, if you are 200 pounds and are walking at a brisk pace of 4.0 mph for 30 minutes, you will burn approximately 238 calories. Multiply that 5 times for the week and you have burned 1190 calories burned just from walking!  If you then add in your exercise sessions, you could potentially achieve more than 2000 calories burned per week.  That’s the math behind why every step counts!

If you want to know the exact calorie burn that your walks achieve, or are in need of a comprehensive and customized workout program for you to reach your goals, reach out to me by clicking on the Learn More link below!
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