When You Have Over 50 Pounds to Lose, Here’s the Best Thing You Can Do to Get Started

When you have a big weight loss goal, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out where to start. But there’s good news! A study published in the journal Risk Analysis found that those who took regular walks weighed less than those who prioritized more high-intensity workouts, such as running, swimming, or biking.

There’s one small caveat: These people in the study walked a fast pace. But that still may be more appealing than running for some. Plus, experts say that when beginning a new walking program, you might lose up to two pounds a week! And remember: more weight you have to lose when you begin, the more weight you’ll likely shed. You’ll transform your body in no time.

Before beginning walking regularly, you’ll first want to clear it with your primary care physician as a precaution. “If you haven’t been exercising, running it by your primary care doctor is a good idea, just to make sure they don’t have any concerns or think you need any testing ahead of time,” says Scott Mullen, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Kansas Hospital Sports Medicine and Performance Center.

Besides weight loss, there are tons of other benefits to walking, including putting you in a better mood and lowering stress levels. So while it’ll certainly help you shed some pounds, it’ll also have a positive impact on yourself as a whole.

The CDC recommends adults engage in at least 150 per week of moderate-intensity exercise. That comes to 2 hours and 30 minutes a week, which equates to about 21 minutes of walking a day.

If walking for that long a period of time is painful for you—which it can be, especially if you have extra weight on you—you can try to break this up into about four 5-minute walks, or two 10-minute walks a day (+ that one extra minute later!). You’ll still reap all the same benefits.

Also, don’t feel like you need to start walking at a fast pace right away, especially if your body isn’t used to walks yet. Gradually increase your speed with each walk you take. There are actually benefits to varying your walking pace. In fact, people who switch up the pace of their walks burned up to 20 percent more calories than those who went at a steady pace, according to a study published in the journal Biology Letters.

When you begin your new walking routine, just note that you might feel a little sore the next few days, especially in your legs, shins, and calves. That’s perfectly normal, and just your body getting used to and adapting to a new exercise regimen.

However, if you’re feeling an intense kind of pain, give your body rest. “Always listen to your body and pay attention to its signals,” says personal trainer and fitness video guru Jessica Smith. “Pain, lightheadeness, or nausea can all be signals that you are exerting yourself too much.”

Have you ever experienced weight loss from adapting a walking routine? Do you think you’ll try out walking every day to see if it can help you shed weight? What other ways do you go about dropping pounds?