I am really not a fan of cardio (well, who is?) but I absolutely LOVE walking. I think it's an amazing way for everyone to get their body moving, not to mention it's great for our health. I briefly spoke about the benefits of walking in a previous blog - 4 Steps To Begin A Healthier Lifestyle.
"30-60 minutes first thing in the morning is the perfect way to start your day. These longer walks, what I would call ‘Fat Burner Walks’, are best done on an empty tummy and here’s why. When you wake up in the morning your body has essentially been fasting all night...so if you go for a low intensity walk first thing on an empty tummy, your body has to use your fat stores as energy. If you were to have some food first your body would use this food as fuel instead (our bodies are very clever like that!) I say 30-60 minutes because it usually takes at least 25 mins to get into that ‘fat burning zone’."
If time is a barrier for you and you can't imagine fitting in a 30-60 minute walk first thing, then there are two options. You can replicate this 'fat burning' effect with your walk by leaving at least 3 hours between eating and going for your walk. Or you can make time. If you want something bad enough then you will find a way. Wake up an hour earlier or have dinner a little earlier so you can get out 3 hours after you've eaten in the evening. Like I said if you want it bad enough then you'll create the time, if not then you'll create excuses. Personally, I love getting up early and going for a walk before I do anything else, it's 'me time' and gets me set up for the day ahead - it’s amazing what fresh air can do for your mindset. I can move my body, get some fresh air and start my day knowing I've got a good amount of steps in (yeap, I'm a FitBit girl. I aim for at least 10,000 steps everyday because it makes me feel good). And if I can't fit it in first thing/don't want to get out of bed that early, then I make time later in the day. I'll either get it done on the treadmill at the gym or go just before lunch to split up my day. And I have to say I can really tell a difference the days I don't get a walk in because it will get to about 6pm and I'll feel really agitated and uneasy - so usually I'll end up having to go for a quick stroll around the block to calm my mind down and burn off some energy.
Now I totally understand that 30-60 minutes may sound like a lot and some people genuinely may not be able to squeeze it in. But if just the thought of it is stressing out then don’t panic! Any length walk in better than no walk. You've probably all heard the saying "the only bad workout is the one you didn't do" and yeah that's pretty much true. Even if you can only fit in a 10-15 minute walk a day you will be amazed at the difference it will make not only to your body but your mind and energy. I honestly believe walking is one of the most underestimated yet most accessible forms of exercise that can significantly improve weight loss, anxiety, depression, stress and can really help you begin a healthier lifestyle.
NOTE: I would only recommend this 'fat burner' approach for low intensity walking. I would never recommend doing high intensity cardio or resistance training on an empty tummy, as this may lead to your body using your muscle stores as energy (not what we want!) However, with this lower intensity walking your body can cope and will target the fat stores.
I hope this inspires at least one person to get walking - plus we're approaching summer (in the UK anyway) so even more of a reason to get outside for some Vitamin D! :)