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One Long Walk or Several Short Walks: Which One is More Effective for Fat Loss?

One Long Walk or Several Short Walks: Which One is More Effective for Fat Loss?

All my clients know that I’m a big proponent of walking. Besides keeping the fork away from your mouth, it’s the simplest thing you can do to lose body fat. Our ancestors walked at least six miles per day. They didn’t have as many distractions (or excuses) such as work, social media, or reality TV to keep them from being physically active, but they were pretty damn lean.

I don’t care if it’s fasted or not; walking has several benefits that include the following and more:

  • Increases daily energy expenditure
  • Helps lower cortisol
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Is easy on your body and can be restorative
  • Spares muscle

All of this is great, but how can you get the maximum benefit from walking? Should you focus on taking one long walk per day or frequent walks?

The Study

Researchers evaluated the effect of different daily physical activity (PA) frequencies while maintaining the same daily volume of PA on weight loss, carbohydrate metabolism, and lipid metabolism in overweight women who had a sedentary lifestyle over 24 hours. Sixty-five women were randomly allocated for the following groups: diet plus a long bout of moderate physical activity (LBP) (one 50-minute bout of walking) six days per week or diet plus short bouts of physical activity (SBP) (two 25-minute bouts of walking) six days per week.

What They Found

The SBP group lost an average of 17.76 pounds and reduced their waist circumference by an average of 3.45 inches. The LBP group lost an average of 14 pounds and an average of 2.27 inches in waist circumference. There was no difference in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.

What This Means For You

If you have time for two walks a day, it might be more effective for fat loss. However, it isn’t a huge deal to just take one. Increasing energy expenditure is the primary goal. More frequent walking even in shorter bouts is superior because of the multiple efforts during the day to increase insulin sensitivity and lower cortisol. Plus, you’re programming your body to burn fat as opposed to carbohydrates. Moderate exercise, such as jogging, can produce unnecessary stress on the body and relies more on carbs for fuel. The bare minimum you should be doing is 30 minutes per day.

Leave the excuses at home and start walking.

Reference

Madjd, A., Taylor, M. A., Delavari, A., Malekzadeh, R., Macdonald, I. A. and Farshchi, H. R. (2019), Effect of a Long Bout Versus Short Bouts of Walking on Weight Loss During a Weight‐Loss Diet: A Randomized Trial. Obesity. 10.1002/oby.22416