Losing weight might seem complicated, difficult and demanding—something that requires you to overhaul huge parts of your life, not the least your fitness routine. You'll have to start working out every single day for a long period of time, doing something high-cardio or at least high-intensity, right? According to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition, not so much.
The results of the study showed that weight loss is more about what you eat, rather than how much or how hard you exercise. At first glance, that might sound quite obvious (after all, the common saying is that achieving a healthy body weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise). However, the results were shocking. Researchers found that "moderate" walking, for only three hours a week, boosted participants' weight loss significantly, compared with participants who ate the same number of calories but didn't walk.
The study was conducted over the course of 12 weeks and included 82 overweight or obese participants. Each person ate the same "energy-restricted diet," which was based on their individual weight and resting energy expenditure. From there, the group of people were split into two. Half of the participants engaged in a "brisk walk" for thrree hours a week ("brisk" here is defined as between three and four miles per hour). The other half didn't. That was the only difference.
At the end of the study, the participants who walked lost on average a little over 19 lbs, while the participants who didn't walk only lost an average of a little over 15 lbs). There was also a huge difference in the average fat mass. Those who walked had significantly less fat mass than those who didn't. (In other words, their waist circumference and body dimensions were smaller, on average, than the group who didn't walk).
These are major findings for anyone who is trying to lose weight. Even just three hours of walking per week can significantly boost weight loss. But the results went beyond weight to include increased cardiovascular and metabolic health. Those who walked for roughly three hours a week showed less cholesterol and insulin in later blood tests.
So rest assured that getting to a healthy weight doesn't necessarily require a gym membership or a HIIT class package. (In fact, overdoing it can actually sabotage those efforts.) Just throw on some comfy walking shoes, like these mesh Nike sneakers that offer support and breathability, and go for a walk. The benefits might be even greater than you realize.