Thought walking couldn’t lead to weight loss? Think again! There’s huge slimming potential in putting one foot in front of the other, as our expert explains. Read on for our 2 week walking plan to find your healthy weight and improve your posture…

What could be better than enjoying the great British countryside on foot, all while getting fitter from top to toe? With it being the new year just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to begin a new walking fitness routine.

The mental health benefits are noticeable, as walking in nature helps you connect to something larger than yourself and provides a moment of respite from hectic living. But there are serious physical health benefits to be had, too. Walking works all your major muscle groups, protects your heart and brain, and can help you lose weight if that’s what you’re after.

Increase your walking distance and pace

‘Walking 10,000 steps a day means you’ll cover between four-and-a-half and six miles, depending on the length of your stride,’ says fitness expert Anthony Lynch.

‘This is enough to create a 500-calorie deficit each day, assuming you’re eating the same amount and type of food as before you introduced the walking. This deficit can result in losing a pound of body fat per week.’

You can also achieve this in just two brisk 30-minute walks per day, as long as they are very brisk, above four miles per hour. To simplify things further, as long as you’re feeling slightly out of breath and are perspiring a little – but still able to walk and talk – you’ll be in a fat-burning zone.

‘Some experts suggest as little as 6,000 steps a day is enough to improve your health, whereas 10,000 will help you lose weight,’ explains Anthony. ‘If those 6,000 steps are done at a very brisk pace then yes, that’s probably enough to get into the fat-burning zone as faster and fewer steps can have a better outcome than a greater number of slower steps.’

So, striding out really can make a difference to your waistline, as long as you keep up the tempo and do it on a regular basis. Why not try Anthony’s progressive walking plan? It will have you fitter and trimmer in a fortnight.

Getting outside for regular walks can do wonders for both your physical and mental wellbeing.

2 week walking plan

Improve your fitness and find your healthy weight with this 2 week walking plan…

Day 1

  • Pace: Easy-steady
  • Incline: Flat routes
  • Duration: Walk 1 – 25-30 mins. Walk 2 – 25-30 mins
  • Intensity: 5-6 out of 10
  • Distance: 3 miles in total

Plan your two walks, perhaps scheduling one in the morning or at lunchtime and the other in the evening. Time each walk to monitor your progress

Day 2

  • Pace: Moderate-steady
  • Incline: Flat routes
  • Duration: 1 min quicker than yesterday for each walk
  • Intensity: 6-7 out of 10
  • Distance: 3 miles in total

Do the same as on Day 1, but aim to beat your time on each walk by a minute. Keep a bend in your elbows and swing your arms to propel you forward.

Day 3

  • Pace: Moderate-steady
  • Incline: Flat routes
  • Duration: Walk 1 – 25-30 mins. Walk 2 – 25-30 mins
  • Intensity: 6-7 out of 10
  • Distance: 4 miles in total

Increase your distance from three miles to four while maintaining yesterday’s intensity. Pump those arms and maintain good posture.

Day 4 (rest day)

  • Pace: –
  • Incline: –
  • Duration: –
  • Intensity: –
  • Distance: 10,000 steps

Today is a ‘rest day’, but keep active by using stairs instead of lifts, having a lunchtime stroll, pottering in the garden, or walking to the shops.

Day 5

  • Pace: Moderate-steady
  • Incline: 2-3 per cent
  • Duration: Walk 1 – 25-30 mins. Walk 2 – 25-30 mins
  • Intensity: 7 out of 10
  • Distance: 4 miles in total

Start to add in some hills to increase the intensity. You might find your calves feel stiff after today, so spend an extra 30 seconds stretching each leg.

Day 6

  • Pace: Moderate-steady
  • Incline: 2-3 per cent
  • Duration: 60-70 mins
  • Intensity: 7 out of 10
  • Distance: 4 miles

The main thing is to get this walk done without any breaks. Add in the hill from yesterday (or similar) as this will increase your energy expenditure.

Day 7

  • Pace: Moderate-steady
  • Incline: 5-6 per cent
  • Duration: As long as it takes
  • Intensity: Comfortable
  • Distance: 10,000 steps

Head to somewhere scenic for a long, leisurely walk. Don’t set targets; just keep moving. Choose somewhere with varied terrain. Enjoy it!

Some experts suggest as little as 6,000 steps a day is enough to improve your health, whereas 10,000 will help you lose weight.

Day 8

  • Pace: Moderate and brisk
  • Incline: –
  • Duration: Walk 1 – 25-30 mins. Walk 2 – 25-30 mins
  • Intensity: 6/7 to 8/10 out of 10
  • Distance: 4 miles in total

Split the miles into two walks, alternating between 3 mins at a moderate pace and 1 min brisk. The faster pace is intermittent so you have a chance to recover.

Day 9

  • Pace: Moderate and brisk
  • Incline: 2-3 per cent
  • Duration: Walk 1 – 25-30 mins. Walk 2 – 25-30 mins
  • Intensity: 6/7 to 8/10 out of 10
  • Distance: 4 miles in total

The brisk pace should get your heart rate up. Today, do the same as Day 8 (with the intervals) but add in hills at a 2-3 per cent gradient.

Day 10 (rest day)

  • Pace: –
  • Incline: –
  • Duration: –
  • Intensity: –
  • Distance: 10,000 steps

This is a well-deserved rest day. As before, focus on getting in your step count by staying active, and do some stretches at the end of the day.

Day 11

  • Pace: Moderate and brisk
  • Incline: 2-3 per cent
  • Duration: Walk 1 – 25-30 mins. Walk 2 – 25-30 mins
  • Intensity: 6/7 to 8/10 out of 10
  • Distance: 5 miles in total

Add another half a mile per walk and change your pace as before. Try to complete it in the same time it took you to do two miles at the start of the plan.

Day 12

  • Pace: Moderate and brisk
  • Incline: 2-3 per cent
  • Duration: Walk 1 – 25-30 mins. Walk 2 – 25-30 mins
  • Intensity: 6/7 to 8/10 out of 10
  • Distance: 5 miles in total

Increase the pace! Now do just two mins moderate pace and one min brisk. Go faster than yesterday and take slow, deep breaths on the moderate parts.

Day 13 (rest day)

  • Pace: –
  • Incline: –
  • Duration: –
  • Intensity: –
  • Distance: 10,000 steps

This is a rest day before a harder day tomorrow, so stay on the move but don’t push yourself as tomorrow will be challenging.

Day 14

  • Pace: Moderate-steady
  • Incline: 5-6 per cent
  • Duration: Go as fast as you can with a steady pace
  • Intensity: 7/8 out of 10
  • Distance: 5 miles

Walk five miles at a moderate pace and incorporate the steepest hill from Day 7. Maintain good posture and breathe deeply. Record your time at the end.

Improve your posture while you walk

Walking with good posture will not only help protect your back and knees from injury but allow you to walk faster and further. Try Anthony’s top technique tips while following the walking plan…

  • Roll your shoulders back and down intermittently during your walk to dispel any tension, allow maximum air flow into your lungs and free your arms.
  • Squeeze your bottom and tilt your pelvis slightly under to flatten out the lower curve of your spine.
  • Hold your stomach in slightly – think belly button to spine – but without holding your breath
  • Keep your chin up as it’s better for your neck and shoulders.
  • Walk tall – don’t slouch or lean forwards or backwards.

Best stretches to try after a walk

Stretching after each walk on the walking plan increases your range of motion, improves flexibility and helps prevent future injury.

1. Hamstring stretch

Stand on your right leg and rest your left heel on a handy fence or bench. Lean forwards to touch your right foot or shin. Hold for 30 secs then repeat with the other leg.

2. Hip opener

Sit up straight on a chair. Place your right ankle and on your left knee with your right knee falling out to the side. Lean forwards until you can feel the stretch in your bum on the right. Hold for 30 secs then switch legs.

3. Calf stretch

The yoga pose downward dog is a fantastic way to stretch your calves. Adopt the inverted V-shape with your palms flat on the floor and bottom in the air. Press your heels towards the ground. Hold for 10 secs.

Click here to discover the best walking kit, apps and more to support you throughout the walking plan!