Bariatric surgery can help kickstart your weight loss, but your diet and exercise habits play critical roles in your long-term weight loss success. If you’re just starting on your health and fitness journey, you might feel intimidated by exercise, or you may not have the stamina yet to utilize gym equipment.
Walking is an excellent way to lose weight, and it’s an exercise you can do at almost any fitness level. However, be mindful of the distance you travel and the intensity you set for your pace. Going for a leisurely stroll around the block isn’t going to help you reach your goals, as it’s not getting your heart rate up high enough for long enough.
The following are several tips to help you get started.
The rule of thumb for overall cardiovascular fitness is to exercise 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity, which breaks down to 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. However, the American College of Sports Medicine developed this recommendation for general health purposes. To lose weight and keep it off, you will need to aim for 200-300 minutes per week. You can divide this time into five 40- to 60-minute walks.
How long you walk won’t influence the scale much without the proper intensity. Aim for a moderate-intensity heart rate level, which is 50-70% of your max heart rate. To find your max heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, a 30-year-old has a max heart rate of 190 beats per minute (bpm). A moderate intensity heart rate for that individual is 95-133 bpm.
As your fitness improves, you can increase the intensity to a vigorous level of 70-85% of your max heart rate. For a 30-year-old, the vigorous exercise heart rate range is 133-162 bpm. Vigorous exercise achieves the same benefits as moderate-intensity exercise in half the time, meaning a vigorous 30-minute walk or jog is the same as a 60-minute moderate-intensity walk. Investing in a heart rate monitor can help you accurately track your heart rate and exercise intensity levels.
Walking vs. Running
Excess weight can put too much pressure on joints to run safely. However, as you start to lose weight, you may wonder about the benefits of running versus walking. Running is inherently more vigorous than walking and produces a greater calorie burn when traveling the same distance.
For example, a 200-pound individual running at a 10-minute mile pace will burn around 455 calories after 30 minutes (three miles). That same individual will burn approximately 300 calories walking for an hour at a moderate intensity of three miles per hour. That’s 155 calories less for the same distance. That individual would need to walk for 90 minutes (about 4.5 miles) to match the calories burned from the three-mile run.
Running generates a more effective calorie burn, but it comes with a higher risk for injuries. You can make up the difference by increasing your walking distance or taking multiple walks throughout the day. Talk with your doctor before making any changes to your exercise routine to avoid injuries.
Walking is a great workout option for beginners. Sixty minutes may seem like a tall order, but you can build up your stamina over time. Start by taking a 10-minute walk to gauge how well you tolerate the activity. From there, you can increase your walk time in five-minute increments or take multiple 10-minute walks until you’re comfortable walking for longer distances. Contact us to learn how weight loss surgery can help you meet your fitness goals.