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Walking may be simple, but it’s actually one of the most effective forms of exercise for fat burning, as long as you keep your heart rate up.
When you do, you’ll trigger a process called beta-oxidation. “Beta oxidation is the metabolism, break down, and burning of fatty acids for fuel. This is the fuel you use during moderate intensity, steady state cardio,” Holly Perkins, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, told POPSUGAR. “Beta oxidation only occurs within a specific heart rate zone. Walking is the perfect way to keep steady state, and keep your heart rate within that zone.”
So, what exactly is this sweet spot? Holly explained that you should aim for about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. “This means that you’re keeping your heart rate at a constant measure, which is not too high and not too low, that will burn fat for energy,” she said. There’s a fairly simple formula for finding that number, but to make it even easier, this chart breaks it down by age. Once you know your target heart rate, keep track of it during your workouts by investing in a heart rate monitor.
While the speed and intensity necessary to get in the fat-burning zone will vary from person to person, Holly recommends incorporating an incline with your walk. “I have all my clients walk on an incline because they can walk slower but still get their heart rate high, which will minimize the potential for soreness and injury,” she said. (She also suggests investing in a good walking shoe: “This should be a light, flexible cross training shoe with really good support that feels good on you.”)
Aim to walk at 70 percent of your maximum heart rate for 35 to 40 minutes, four times a week, Holly explained — and if you’re looking to lose a significant amount of weight with walking, up that to five days. For best results, remember that you’ll need to clean up your diet too.