Walking for Weight Loss

Some of us are content to follow a standard, regimented weight loss and exercise plan. For others, inspiration is necessary. We need a vision, beyond that of a slimmer body. And that ‘s where long distance walking may come in. Walking is one of the best ways to lose weight. For one thing, it’s a gentle exercise, so you’re less likely to get injured and have to interrupt your exercise regimen. For another thing, anyone can do it – even if you have to start slow. Fitness guru Susan Powter, who once weighed 260 pounds (and now weighs about 103) started her weight loss with a simple walk around the block.

So by all means, if you need to start small, do so. Just start – walk a couple of blocks today, a couple more tomorrow, and keep doing it – for the long term. If your fitness level is better than that, walk more, or walk faster. Try some hills. Walk fast enough to break a sweat, every day.

Even more importantly, start thinking of yourself as a walker. Read the biographies of some of the great long distance walkers for inspiration. Fyyona Campbell, for example, was the first woman to walk around the world. (Walking around the world, by the way, is not literally possible for obvious reasons – but if you walk the length or width of any four continents, that counts as walking ‘around the world’ for the purposes of the Guiness Book or World Records.) Fyyona Campbell started when she was sixteen years old. A rebellious teenager, she ran away from home and set out to walk the length of the British Isles, from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Later, she walked Australia, Africa, Europe and America, thus becoming the first woman to officially walk ‘around the world’.

You may dream of becoming a long distance walker yourself – or you may set less lofty goals. In either case, if the idea of walking long distances appeals to you, just start at whatever point you happen to be at right now, in terms of your available time or your fitness level. To track the miles or kilometers you walk, invest in an inexpensive pedometer. This will give you a real sense of accomplishment. Even if you are only walking the seawall or the track near your home, look up the miles that you would have to walk to get to the next city. Then, set that mileage as your goal. See how long it takes you to walk that distance – can you do it in a week? In three days? Accomplish that goal, then set a new one. Can you walk the length of your province or state (or the equivalent) in the next month?

Besides giving you an inspiring goal that is more likely to keep you going in the long term, this approach to exercise gives you a unique perspective on things. As recently as a hundred years ago, going to the next city or town did entail a very long walk for most people. Of course, there were trains, and some people were lucky enough to have horses, buggies or stagecoaches, but by and large, the way that people got places was by walking. Think about that – how did they do it? How long did it take them? How did it feel? By committing to long distance walking, you get to find out the answers to these questions for yourself, first hand – you are literally bringing history to life!

With gas prices rising as they are, some people are using this as their motivation for walking. Try walking instead of driving, within reason. In fact, this is a way of life even today for many people in European cities, where the streets are too congested and gas too expensive to make driving a desirable option. Incidentally – or not – these people are seldom overweight.

Walking is something that requires little in the way of special equipment – comfortable walking or running shoes are recommended, of course – and nothing at all in the way of training or preparation. You just start, and then you stick to it. Find ways to make it interesting and inspiring, and then just do it.

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