Unwanted Weight? Walk It Off, Girl

| Fitness

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Go back to the basics and take a walk. Really! Hitting the pavement every day for 30 minutes or more can help you drop the pounds, improve your heart health and boost your mood. If you're at the beginning of your weight loss journey, this is a great place to start.

Make a commitment to yourself and draw up a schedule for your walks. Some days, it might make more sense for these walks to happen after dinner or during lunch at work, perhaps in the morning before your begin the day. You can also split them up if you're already juggling a jam-packed day. Make the commitment and keep it because you can't do any of those other things you have planned if you're not healthy enough!

Once you get into a groove, check out some of the most popular walking workouts available. Prevention developed the 8-Week Walking Plan centered on burning fat by increasing your walking speed each week. You can also up your game with Leslie Sansone DVD workouts that will bring some fun into your step. Check out how one mom started her 70-pound weight loss journey with walking.

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WHY YOU WALK

Burn fat. With each step, you ask the body for more fuel. You need energy to take step after step, and that energy comes from stored fat. As you progress with your walking, you'll move more quickly, contracting the muscles faster and more frequently, therefore, burning more and more fat. Brisk walking or speed walking is ideal, so keep working your way up! Click here to calculate your fat-burning zone.

Trim your waist. Consider your form as you walk: head up and looking forward, shoulders dropped, chest lifted, arms swinging and core tightened. You naturally engage your abdominal muscles as you walk because they assist the forward motion of the legs, lifting and stepping. You're already requiring an energy supply to fuel your steps (burn that fat!), and with proper form, you'll be toning muscle, too!

Improve cardiovascular health. It's not something you can see, but it's certainly something you can feel. When you take time to take care of your heart, it pays you back. By maintaining an active lifestyle, you can ward off heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by up to 50 percent! What's more is that walking can be even better for you than running, depending on how you manage it. A study published in the American Heart Association Journal showed that running reduced the risk for coronary heart disease by 4.5 percent while walking decreased it by 9.3 percent.

>> Get moving: Exercises for a Health Heart