Walking tips for weight loss: Does the time of day affect benefits of walking?

See more walking tips from people who've logged thousands of miles in their shoes, below.

See more walking tips from people who've logged thousands of miles in their shoes, below.


I love your program. I have no idea if it is working or not because I have thrown my scale away and am instead focused on reducing my portions, drinking my water and going on my walks. I find the scale messes with my head and in the end slows me up. I have been reducing my portions with ease and am wanting to get more into my walking.

My question is does it matter what time of day I walk? Sometimes I start work so early, or end so late I have to fit my walking into smaller sessions (like 2x 15-20 minute walks). Is this ok? Will it still be effective?

Dear Reader,

I've seen several studies that indicate several shorter walks produce the same results as one long walk. I've also known clients in a similar situation to your's, have great success with several 10-20 minute walks per day. Personally, there have been times when I couldn't find 30-60 continuous minutes and had to break up walks into 2 or 3 shorter sessions.

Morning walkers report that it is easier to stay on their walking schedule when they walk before the busyness of the day has a chance to interfere. The important point is to make walking part of your routine, whenever it fits in your schedule. Consistency is what determines success, not time of day. You'll burn calories and build muscle whether it's 3 a.m. or 6 p.m. If you don't walk at all, none of those things can happen.

Walking Tips For Weight Loss & More

• Walk first thing in the morning. Before coffee, brushing teeth, etc. Wake up, throw on your shoes and head out the door. By the time you wake up, you're almost done. This works well for some, if it doesn't for you, select a time (or times) that work in your circumstance. Some of my friends like to walk on their lunch hour, my neighbor prefers after dinner, I like to walk about 10 minutes after getting up.

• Walk at lunch. Walk to and from a cafe, restaurant, etc. Or brown bag it and spend the rest of your lunch hour walking.

• Look for opportunities. Park in the furthest parking spot. Walk instead of driving when possible.

• Keep a pair of walking shoes, socks, correct kind of sunglasses (see Don't forget your eyes!, below) and water in your car and where you work. You may also want to keep an umbrella or raincoat handy, too. You'll find even more opportunities to walk when you're prepared.

• Make a commitment to your walking program. When you get started make a point to notice how good you feel, how much more energy you have the rest of the day and how much better your mood is. If your schedule is interrupted, or you skip days for other reasons, simple remind yourself how much better you feel when you walk and renew your commitment to your walking program.

• Have a good time. Vary the routine or route. Try a new park, indoor shopping mall, golf course. Get a group together for a walk at a special location.

• Be productive while walking. Listen to an audiobook, check email, etc. If this is for you, remember to always be aware of your surroundings. Traffic, people, animals, terrain, weather and other sources of potential danger.

• Don't walk on an empty stomach. If you walk first thing in the morning, try to get something in your stomach, a piece of fruit, whole grain cereal, toast or even a handful of your favorite nut-laden trail mix.

• Drink a glass of water before heading out the door and take water with you when it's hot.

• Use caution if you walk with hand or ankle weights. The extra weight can throw off your stride and cause stress and injury. If you want to add strengthening exercises to your routine, do it separate from walking.

• Easy way to warm up and cool down: first and last 5-10 minutes of your walk, walk at a slower pace. Allow your body to gradually increase blood flow and warm-up muscles and joints when you begin, and decrease blood flow and cool-down when you're finished.

• Best walking form is standing tall, shoulders back, chest forward. Then just let your natural stride take over.

• Get the most for you effort. Walk fast enough that your breathing increases. You should be able to answer a question, but not carry on a full conversation. If you're "gulping" for air, slow down. After your walk, you should feel warm all over and energized. If you're exhausted, slow down the pace and then gradually increase it as your body gets stronger. If you don't feel energized, pick-up the pace and/or walk for a longer distance.

• If your hands swell when walking, leave your rings at home. Squeeze your hands into a fist and release, or carry a rubber ball to squeeze periodically. This helps push back blood from the fingers.

• Walk safely. When walking alone, tell someone your route and how long you expect to be gone. Dress to be visible, wear light colored clothes and/or reflectors if walking outside. Walk facing traffic so you can see what's in front of you. Vary your route to prevent someone from memorizing your routine. Carry pepper spray and a cell phone in case you get in trouble. And always be aware of your surroundings.

• Good walking shoes don't have to be expensive. Find out what to look for in your shoes in this excellent article by REI.com -- Walking Shoes: How to Choose (opens in a new window).

• Cold weather walking. Dress in layers so you can adjust as your body warms up. Walk closer to home so you can get inside quickly if you get too cold. Watch for ice on roads and sidewalks. Let someone know when you expect to be back.

• Hot weather. Carry water, walk at the coolest time of day. Frozen water will slowly melt and stay cool on even the hottest of days. Consider walking indoors in an air conditioned mall. Signs of heat stroke include upset stomach, headache, fatigue and confusion.

• Protect your skin from UV rays in summer and winter, even on cloudy days. UV rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (daylight savings time). In the North America, UV rays peak in late spring and early summer. Cover up and use SPF 15 or higher.

• Don't forget your eyes! Long term exposure to sun without proper eye protection increases the likelihood of: cataracts, snow blindness (Photokeratitis), Pteryguim and skin cancer around the eyelids. For the best eye protection from UV rays wear a broad-rimmed hat and sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays. Remember, UV rays bounce off surfaces like water, snow and sidewalks and are present even on cloudy days.

Magic Pill

Here are the facts...

Brain Chemicals - Walking releases feel good brain chemicals like dopamine that fights stress, depression and assists in sound sleep.

Weight Loss - Walk 30 minutes, five days per week and burn enough calories to lose 15 pounds or more in 12 months. Better yet, you develop leg, hip, abdominal and back muscles that burn 70 calories per pound of muscle per day!

Encourages Good Cholesterol - Walking is proven to reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol in the blood which can lead to heart attacks.

Reduce The Risk of Heart Attack - Based on a 20 year study of 72,000 female nurses (Nurses Health Study) 30 minutes daily reduced heart attack risk by 40%.

Reduce Risk of Stroke - Based on a Harvard study of 11,000 men, one hour of brisk walking daily will reduce the risk of stroke by 50%.

Walking has been proven to...
  • Prevent impotence, osteoporosis, colon cancer and constipation.
  • Strengthen bones, joints and blood flow.
  • Lower stress levels and improve sleep.

And the all-time, #1 reason to walk daily... IT LENGTHENS YOUR LIFE SPAN.

Now what would you pay for a pill like that? A magic pill that dramatically improved health, fitness, appearance and well-being. Well you don't have to pay one red cent. Just put one foot in front of the other for at least 30 minutes every day and you will discover the eternal fountain of youth. WALKING!

Thanks for writing in. Happy walking!

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