Walking For Aerobic Exercise In Shenzhen

Walking is one of the best exercises you can do and it’s also the easiest. If you walk fast and don’t stop to smell the roses, you can get the same aerobic benefits as running. If you have joint problems, running may be the only safe alternative.

For good health, it is extremely important to get some form of cardiovascular exercise several days a week. Walking is a great way to start, particularly if you are overweight. If you are lugging around a large amount of excess fat, you don’t need to be pounding the pavement. If you don’t have joint problems now, you’ll get them later.

Walking as a Fat Burning Exercise

Walking is an excellent exercise for weight loss. In fact, in my opinion, it is the easiest way to lose weight.
Try this simple program for slow, effective weight loss:

1.    Make sure you are eating a good healthy diet, where you don’t gain weight.

2.    Get up a little earlier in the morning and go for a brisk three mile walk.

3.    Do the same in the evening.

This will burn off about 700 calories a day (depending on the weight of the individual). Since there are 3,500 calories in a pound, you will lose about one pound every five days. That’s about six pounds a month. That may not seem fast, but that’s at least seventy-two pounds a year. Easy!

As commonly understood, running burns off more calories than jogging, jogging burns off more calories than walking. Well, yes and no. At a slow run, you are actually burning off fewer calories than a fast walk at the same speed. That’s because running is a more efficient gait past a natural walking speed. By more efficient gait, I mean that it takes less energy to go at that speed then if you walked.

By natural walking speed, I mean the fastest walking speed you can go without having to concentrate NOT to break out in a run. For most people, that would be a 12 minute mile. (Five miles per hour)

So why would running a 12 minute mile burn less calories then walking a 12 minute mile? Basically, it is because during running you thump, thump, thump on the ground. Your bent legs act like springs, so when you push off, you are able to recover between 20 and 70 percent of the energy that was stored in your legs.
If this sounds weird, think of a kangaroo’s legs when it is hopping along, you’ll get the picture.

At a slower pace, your walking is most energetically efficient. Running is more energetically efficient at higher speeds so you will use more energy by walking 5 miles per hour than running. If you want to lose weight walking, walk fast. Check out this table:

Pace Calories Expended
miles/hour Walking Running
5 530 480
6 734 660
7 960 690

There is really no downside to walking as compared to running. Anyone who walks at 5 miles/hour or faster will achieve the same aerobic training effect as running with relatively little risk of injury. In my humble opinion, walking at a fast pace is one of the safest exercises for burning calories. To walk this fast you need to learn the technique of race walking so you can really burn fat. Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to maintain that speed without breaking into a run. Learn how to burn fat walking by race walking.


While you are not likely to get joint problems while walking, walking, like other exercises is not risk-free.

I have a very good friend, Tony, who had a heart attack. He survived and was put on an exercise program. Since he was overweight, he mostly walked, figuring that was safe. He walked and he walked and he walked. He walked in the morning , he walked at night, he walked at lunch. He walked in all kinds of weathers. He walked until he got bone spurs in his feet and it hurt too much to walk. So what did Tony do wrong besides walking too much? He wasn’t thinking, or rather he wasn’t thinking enough. He was thinking about his heart. He was thinking about how much weight he was losing. He was thinking  about the situation in the middle east. He was thinking about everything but his feet, and that’s what gave out.

Walking doesn’t impact your feet like running, but it does have some impact. So if you are serious about losing weight through aerobic walking you are going to have to walk a lot. If you walk a lot you are going to have to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. Good walking shoes aren’t cheap, but it beats painful bone spurs.

So what about my friend Tony? He can walk, but not enough to do him any good. His weight has come back and he may require surgery. Invest in a decent pair of walking shoes.

Answers to common questions:

Should I stretch before I walk?

It is always a good idea to do some stretching before and after you walk. Do at least these four stretches:

  • Ankle – Sit an rotate your ankles. You can use your hands to help.
  • Calf – Stand arm’s length from a wall. Keep your legs straight and lean into the wall
  • Thigh – Grab a foot and pull it back behind you. You can do this standing or lying down.
  • Ham-string – Put your foot on something. Keep your leg straight and bring your head down to your knee.

How far should I walk?

There is no hard and fast rule on this. The further you walk the better, but there are only so many hours in a day and you have other things to do. At least I hope you do.  A good distance to aim for is three miles. You’ll get your heart rate up and lose some fat.

When should I walk?

The best time to walk is in the morning. You can get it out of the way before anything happens that would cause you to put it off. Often you will keep putting it off and you won’t get around to walking at all. Can’t have that.
If you really want to lose weight, I would also do it in the evening and/or during lunch if possible. That will keep your metabolism revved up.

What if I want faster progress?

Try using some hand weights. Just don’t carry them. Pump them up and down while walking.
That will burn some calories and help build your biceps.
Of course if you get bored or impatient with walking, you can always try running.

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The Contributor

John Graham began personal training in California, where he earned his Master Personal Fitness Trainer Certification from the prestigious International Sports Sciences Association. He has been based in Shenzhen for over 5 years, introducing his knowledge and experience in international fitness techniques and increasing awareness of the latest fitness methodologies. Known for his unique passion and understanding of body dynamics and exercise, and his extensive knowledge of performance nutrition, John’s training programs ensure a well rounded approach to fitness.

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