Drop a dress size in just six weeks by walking yourself fit!

Want to lose weight? Yep, us too. It could be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. Step up with our expert exercise plan and drop a dress size in just six weeks

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by Closer Staff |

Want to lose a few pounds this January, but don’t have the time, money or willpower to spend hours sweating it out at the gym? Well, according to the latest health research, brisk walking – yes that thing you do every day – can burn as much fat as running.

Don’t believe us? It’s true, but only if you put some real effort into it. Brisk walking for 30 minutes, four to six times a week will help tone your thighs, firm up your bum and whittle away your waist. And the best bit? It’s free! Read on to find out how to get the most out of this brilliantly easy fitness regime.

Why walking?

'Brisk walking also flattens a pot belly and, if you swing your arms, it'll blitz your bingo wings'

Exercising
Exercising

It’s easy, sociable and free – result! Power-walking fans include Denise Van Outen, Dannii Minogue and Jennifer Aniston, who credit it with keeping them lean and fit. As super-toned Denise says: “I like walking for hours – it makes me feel healthy.”

Celeb fitness trainer Elia Siaperas (from The Lab Spa - www.labspa.co.uk) agrees and has recommended walking to clients such as Hannah Waterman and Jennifer Ellison. She says: “Walking burns calories and boosts fitness, plus it tones your thighs, calves and bum. Not only that, but by strengthening your ‘core’ muscles in your tummy and back, brisk walking also flattens a pot belly and, if you swing your arms, it’ll blitz your bingo wings.”

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. You can walk yourself slimmer, you just have to do it right. It’s about getting the correct posture – stand tall with your shoulders back, pull in your tummy muscles to help strengthen your core and realign your spine.

Get it right and not only will you shed the pounds, you’ll get a healthier heart and lower your risk of diabetes. A Canadian study even found that women who walked briskly for around an hour a day for 14 weeks shrunk their belly fat by 20 per cent – without changing their eating habits!

So how do you do it?

'You might feel self-conscious, but once you get going, it will look natural and you'll boost the amount of calories you burn'

Exercise

The key to walking for weight loss is an upright posture with your shoulders relaxed – something few of us do in practice. This will fire up your tummy muscles, realign your spine and get your whole body working harder. You must also strike the ground heel-first, rolling over the ball of your foot before pushing off with your toes.

Trainer Elia says: “To increase your walking speed, shorten rather than lengthen your stride. To target bingo wings, keep your arms loose at your sides, but swing them purposefully backwards and forwards. You might feel self-conscious, but once you get going, it will look natural and you’ll boost the amount of calories you burn.”

The only gadget you’ll need is a pedometer. This nifty tool counts every step you take and can cost as little as £3, or can be downloaded as a free Smartphone app, such as Pedometer and Pedometer Bluetooth, which can be found on the apps store on your phone. If you don’t have a smartphone, the Sportline 345 Step/Distance And Calorie Pedometer (£7.39, www.amazon.co.uk) is easy to use and looks stylish.

Elia says: “You can set yourself goals for how many steps you want to do daily: 10,000 a day – the equivalent of four and a half to five miles – is a great start, building up to 15,000 – six and a half to seven miles – over several weeks” says Elia. “This might sound a long way, but even walking to the loo contributes. And, once you add in an extra outdoor stroll from the planner below, your total will shoot up.

“The only other equipment you need is a pair of supportive trainers. These make walking easy and protect your feet, knees and lower back. The right pair should fit well, but leave enough room for your feet to expand,” adds Elia. “You don’t have to spend a fortune – mid-priced trainers such as Nike ‘Steady’ [£33, Debenhams] are perfect.”

Your weekly walking plan

Walking is great for you at any time of day, but exercising in the morning can kick-start your metabolism, so you burn more calories during the rest of the day. Remember to carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated.

'Vary the pace, intensity and terrain and set yourself different goals for each day'

Walking for half an hour briskly, you should cover two to two and a half miles. You can walk to work, in your lunch hour, or around the park at the weekend. Choose well-lit, open areas if you’re alone. For route ideas, visit www.walkingforhealth.org.uk.

Change your route weekly to keep it interesting. Vary the pace, intensity and terrain and set yourself different goals for each day – for example, adding 500 extra steps. And if you need motivating, buddy up!

Boost your weight loss

Speed up your slimming by putting some extra oomph into your routines. “Walk faster – the intensity of your walking affects how much weight you lose. Step up the pace until you feel out of breath,” says trainer Elia. “Stride uphill – even gentle slopes force your body to work harder. If you can, take on a load – carrying shopping bags is an easy way to incorporate weights into your regime and build muscle to give you added definition. Finally, time yourself over a set distance, then see if you can beat your time.”

And don’t forget you can add extra exercises while walking. For example, stop along the way to do 10 squats – this will help tone your thighs and bum. To squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart, then lower down as if you’re sitting down into an imaginary chair, keeping your back straight. Hold, come back to standing, then repeat.

Start walking!

Stick to this plan and, after six weeks, you should have dropped up to 10lbs, the equivalent of a dress size

Monday 30 mins, steady pace

Tuesday 30 mins, brisk pace

Wednesday 25 mins uphill, medium pace

Thursday 30 mins, brisk pace

Friday 30 mins, steady pace

Saturday 45 mins, steady pace, over hills

Sunday Day off – hooray!

‘I strolled off 4st!’

'Walking is the perfect way to lose weight- it's free, easy and fits into my life'

Kam Marwaha

Kam Marwaha, 27, is a communication manager from East London

Kam tells Closer: “I’ve tried every diet going and joined gyms, but I couldn’t stick to diets and never felt like exercising after work. Walking appealed to me – I could fit it into my busy life.

“In May 2011, at 14st and a size 16 (I’m 5ft 7), I started walking to work to train for a charity walk that my sister, Preety, had asked me to do with her. Going from doing no exercise to walking three to six miles a day was tough, but quickly got easier – especially when I got a pair of comfy trainers! And the motivation of not being late for work meant I walked very fast but, actually, I didn’t sweat a lot or need a shower at the office.

"I enjoyed walking down the River Thames – it was calming compared to being on a packed bus and the walk took the same time as the bus did in rush hour. I also started walking for an hour at weekends, or heading to the countryside with my boyfriend James and trekking leisurely for two hours. In three months, I’d lost 11/2st. By Christmas 2011, I’d lost another 2st and fitted into a size 10-12. I’ve also changed jobs and have a six-mile walk each way, which takes 11/4hrs, but I love it. And I’ve since lost another 1/2st, bringing my weight down to 10st.

I haven’t been on a specific diet, I’ve just been trying to eat balanced meals. But I’m in the best shape of my life – James can’t believe how confident I am! I used to hate my stomach but, last summer, I wore a bikini. Walking is the perfect way to lose weight – it’s free, easy and fits in with my life.”

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