Hey Angels and Alphas,
When you’re heading out for your daily weight loss walk, there are thousands of things happening inside your body.
From the muscles in your legs, core and arms, to your brain and your gut, to finally, your immune and endocrine systems. Today, we’re looking at what happens to your body – minute by minute – as you’re going on about your walk.
Let’s get right into it.
Before you even take your first step, your body will start boosting your heart rate simply because you’re thinking about walking. Because your body basically knows it’s about to start exercising, you will often have this temporary boost in heart rate before you’re even out the door, and along with that, your hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine start to increase..
During your first minute to a minute and a half of your walk, imagine your body is lighting a little match. Right at the outset of the walk you’re taking, you’re going to have to fire up your aerobic metabolism, meaning your anaerobic metabolism is switching on for a brief moment.
AFTER 90 SECONDS
By the 90 second mark, your aerobic system has basically kicked in. And for the rest of your walk, your body will be primarily burning fat for fuel, with essentially minimal support from carbohydrates that come from your muscle glycogen stores. As long as you’re keeping it light and easy, you will basically be burning just fat with a little bit of glycogen. If you want to burn through your glycogen stores entirely, you would have to walk at that intensity for about 3-4 hours.
At around the 2-minute mark, you’ve literally offset sitting at a desk for an hour. One study done back in 2015 showed that simply walking for two minutes every hour can undo the majority of the harmful effects of sitting at your desk.
(Still, you’ll have to do these short walks multiple times each day, so please don’t think you’re all good just because you made the effort to walk from your car back to your desk.)
By the 5-minute mark, you’ve made an effort to reset your circadian rhythm. Going outside and having some sun hit your eyes is essential for getting better sleep, as well as for your overall physical and mental health. And it doesn’t take a huge amount of sunlight before your walk becomes an effective way to boost your mood.
When you’re about 10 minutes into your walk, you will begin to increase stress… the good kind of stress. While it may seem counterintuitive, the stress built when you exercise actually benefits your body.
As you’re walking, you’re increasing your stress response, and you’re also boosting inflammation. But as soon as you’re done, your body reaps anti-inflammatory benefits because your body releases that cortisol so it can stop the inflammation. The overall effect is reduced stress and lower inflammation, even after a short walk.
If your walk is about 15 minutes, you are less likely to be indulging in sweet treats. Walking for this amount of time has been shown to curb cravings for fast-digesting carbs such as chocolate or candy. Because you’re walking at such a low intensity, you can walk for quite a bit before you would feel the urge to consume a meal.
By the 20-minute mark, you’ve gone a long way towards boosting your immune function. Studies that have surveyed thousands of men and women have shown that people who walk 20 minutes a day have up to 45 percent fewer sick leaves when compared to their sedentary colleagues. And even if they did get sick, their symptoms were much, much milder.
HALF AN HOUR
30 minutes of walking is the time researchers found provided you with the most relief from a tough day. (Walking for 30 minutes, five days a week, at a vigorous pace, also helps you hit the recommended physical activity guidelines by most health authorities around the world.
AN HOUR OR MORE
If you’re hoping to really lose some weight or stave off diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems, a 60-minute walk might be your one-way ticket to success. One Harvard study found that daily walks for up to 60 minutes cut the effects of obesity-promoting genes by almost 50 percent.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS…
You don’t really have to walk for up to an hour a day to reap the benefits of walking workouts. But the longer your walk is, the more benefits you are going to see. Just make sure to take it slow, take it easy, and stick with what works and what’s sustainable for you and you’ll see massive positive results across your physical, mental, and emotional health.