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Are you looking for an easy-to-start workout regimen that can show results, without having to hit the gym or spend money on equipment?

Try walking.

The simple movement may not seem like the most efficient exercise available, but experts on the subject say it can help with weight loss, mental health and more. Even a few thousand steps a day can burn hundreds of calories and reduce your risk of disease. It’s easy to add a few tweaks to your walking routine to increase calorie burn and lose weight.

Can walking really help you lose weight?

According to Cedric Bryant, PhD, president and chief scientific officer of the American Council on Exercise, walking “definitely can” help with weight loss.

“It’s a low-impact aerobic exercise that allows individuals to expend energy and burn calories, so it can definitely help with weight loss,” says Bryant.

Some recommend walking as a form of exercise because of its simplicity and accessibility.

“I’m a fan of walking as a form of movement—especially if you’re just starting out,” says Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian in Atlanta, Georgia. “The most important thing is to find the type of activity that you like and that you are going to do.”

If you’re using walking as a tool to help with weight loss, Bryant recommends walking at least 45 minutes a day most days of the week.

“The basic recommendations in terms of general health and well-being are just to meet a minimum of 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week,” he says. “If you want to lose weight, you really want to work in the 45 to 60 minute range. The thing to understand is that it doesn’t have to be all in one walking session, you can break it up throughout the cycle that day.”

Bryant recommends dividing those lanes into two or three large pieces.

“Maybe you go for a 30-minute walk in the morning, and then maybe another 15 or 30 minutes after dinner or during your lunch break,” he suggests. “The idea is to try to accumulate, you know, 45 minutes to an hour of walking, which tends to correlate better with reasonable weight loss or better weight control.”

Related: Take your walk from a fun walk to an intense workout by adding intervals.

How much weight can you lose by walking?

Bryant says it’s hard to guess how much weight one might lose while walking because of the amount of factors involved, but he says people can expect to burn about a hundred calories for every thousand steps they take.

“In general, the amount of weight one can expect to lose[is]usually a function of how frequently you do it in terms of the number of days per week, as well as how long you walk and also the intensity of your walking,” he says.

“The average 40-year-old woman who is 5′ 4” and 165 pounds can lose five pounds in two months if she goes from inactive to walking an hour and five times a year,” explains Samantha Cassetti, a registered dietitian based in New York City. the week.”

But you can’t avoid a bad diet, Cassetti says. “She’ll have to make some healthy adjustments to her diet, creating a slight caloric deficit (about 100 calories a day).”

“Maintaining an exercise routine and healthy eating habits can help keep those five pounds off, but walking alone is not likely to lead to additional weight loss,” says Cassetti.

“In general, an otherwise healthy adult is likely to notice a difference in how they feel by incorporating more movement and an improved diet,” says Moore. “You may or may not lose weight with diet changes and exercise. Whether you lose weight can vary depending on personal genes, metabolism, age, general physical activity level, stress levels, and even sleep.”

Related: Gain definition and strength and reduce your risk of injury with this easy-to-follow plan.

How do you start a walking routine?

Walking is one of the easiest exercises to start with – just pick a route and get moving! Bryant recommends comfortable shoes, but there’s no need to invest in fancy shoes or other gear.

A good pace to start with is walking at about three miles per hour, or walking one mile in twenty minutes.

If you’re looking for a metric to compete with, Bryant recommends trying to work up to 10,000 steps, which will help you burn about 1,000 calories. Recent research has shown that logging 8,000 steps a few days a week lowers your risk of death, so even if you can’t hit the 10,000-step benchmark, you’ll still be making strides for your health.

Related: Yes, walking is exercise. Here’s how to get the most out of it.

How can you burn more calories while walking?

If you’re looking for a full-body workout, it’s possible to improve your walking routine by varying the terrain.

“Walking uphill or tilting the treadmill increases the intensity and challenge of walking,” says Bryant. “You can also introduce some intervals where you can vary your walking speed. If you’re out and about, maybe, you know, you can walk really fast from stop sign to stop sign and walk at a normal pace until you get to the next stop sign. If you’re on a treadmill… You can walk comfortably for three minutes and then in the next minute or two, you can walk at a faster pace of half a mile per hour.”

You can also add weights, though Bryant recommends avoiding hand weights and instead investing in a weighted vest, which can cause you to push yourself more without stressing your joints.

If you’re looking for an equipment-free way to burn more calories, you can try doing something as simple as waving your arms. A study by the American Council on Exercise found that moving the arms vigorously expends more calories.

“It may sound a little strange, but vigorous arm pumping definitely increases the intensity of the exercise,” says Bryant.

Related: If you’re walking as a workout, burn more calories, increase your heart rate and tone your arms with an upper-body routine.

What are some other health benefits of walking?

Of course, there are more benefits to walking than just losing weight. Like any other aerobic exercise, walking will help improve the function of your cardiovascular system, will lead to better blood sugar control, and help lower blood pressure.

“Any benefit you can get from other forms of cardio, such as cycling, running, and swimming, you can reap the same benefits while walking,” says Bryant.

Walking can also have mental health benefits. Bryant says exercise can help relieve and manage stress and anxiety.

“I would tell people…to really pay attention and focus on how walking makes them feel, because I think that can be a great motivator to keep them in the game in terms of continuing to walk,” he says.

Related: Walking exercise plans that will reduce stress, tone muscles, and help you lose weight.

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This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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