I discuss the role brisk walking played in reducing my visceral fat (fat around the waist), improving my body fat percentage and improving my HbA1c. While the role of food in good health is something I have covered in past posts and will continue to highlight over the coming posts, walking isn’t given its due credit.
Let me start by discussing the incorrect beliefs I held about exercise viz. I thought exercising only meant high intensity cardio, that strength training was for “bodybuilder types” and that walking was for old people. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I’ll cover the importance of strength training in a separate post but I want to share my observations and conclusions with Zone 2 exercises, defined as exercising at between 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
Walking at the Zone 2 heart rate causes the use of stored fats as the energy source rather than using glucose. When your heart rate gets elevated, such as during long distance running or playing soccer or tennis, your body switches to using glucose, rather than fat, as the primary energy source. This is the reason that walking, rather than cardio, is better for fat burning.
I play soccer twice a week for my cardio workouts and for the rest of the week, I used to walk about 4 miles a day in 2020. I started increasing my walks up to 6 miles a day in 2021 and 2022 and then ramped it up to 8 miles a day in 2023. I did it in two key ways: by ensuring I walked 20 minutes after every meal and by doing more of my work and personal phone calls while walking. Unless there is a super compelling reason to do a video call, I try to only do voice calls so I can walk while on the call. This made it very easy to integrate into my lifestyle without having to set out a specific time to go for a walk.
Here are my results: From 2020 to today, as I started increasing my walking distances, my visceral fat, body fat percentage and my HbA1c dropped. My weight itself has been quite steady over this period and it is important to note that there had to be significant changes that I needed to make to my diet to manage my carb, protein, and fat consumption as well as to my strength training routines to maintain and actually increase my muscle mass. Without those accompanying lifestyle changes, there would be many unintended consequences, such as an unhealthy reduction in muscle mass and an imbalanced nutrition that could lead to cravings and feelings of exhaustion throughout the day (I went through all of this!).
I hope this post is helpful to put these practices into action on your own. For those interested in getting help implementing these changes, check out the GeneClinicX website to speak to one of our coordinators or directly sign up for a membership program there.