Did you know that walking might be a more effective tool for weight loss than the high-intensity classes such as CrossFit? It’s true! For years, we’ve been inundated with the idea that to lose weight or to get fit we need to push ourselves to the brink because ‘no pain no gain’ and if we ‘sweat today’ we can ‘smile tomorrow’, right?

But here’s the reality: many people, especially women, don’t enjoy HIIT workouts, most hate them, so the misconception that CrossFit is the holy grail of weight loss can be quite disheartening.

The good news is that these are just marketing messages, not facts; scientific studies actually reveal that moderate exercise, such as walking, can outperform high-intensity interval training (HIIT), like CrossFit, when it comes to weight loss.

Sure, if we compare a 30-minute walk to a 30-minute HIIT session head-to-head, HIIT wins. However, when we consider the recommended exercise guidelines – 30 minutes of walking five times a week versus 30 minutes of HIIT three times a week – the tables turn, and walking wins.

What science says about HIIT vs walking for weight loss

In a study that compared two groups, one following a thrice-weekly HIIT regimen and the other opting for 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, the results after just six weeks were astounding:

  1. Both groups exhibited significant improvements in fitness, almost to the same degree, irrespective of their chosen program.
  2. Only those in the moderate exercise group had shed much body fat, improved their blood pressure, and become better able to metabolise fat.
  3. Everyone’s blood sugar control at home was best only on the days when they exercised (meaning 3 days a week for the HIIT group and 5 days a week for the moderate group). On the remaining days, blood sugar levels tended to rise.

Stabilising blood sugar levels is very important especially for those who want to lose weight because elevated or fluctuating blood sugar levels trigger sugar cravings. Therefore, these findings imply that daily exercise should make it easier to make healthy dietary choices and resist the temptation of sugary snacks. This is precisely why many participants in my WalkFit programme discover that when they walk regularly, they seem to naturally want healthy whole foods and have less cravings for unhealthy snacks. It’s important to remember, also, that weight loss starts with diet – you simply cannot out-exercise an unhealthy diet no matter how hard you try!

The scientists concluded that while all forms of exercise offer health benefits, it appears that frequent, almost daily moderate exercise is often preferable, especially when it comes to improving blood pressure, blood sugar control and sustainable weight loss.

Two more reasons why walking is better than HIIT for weight loss

I want to add two more reasons to the above. These are based on my own experience, what I’ve observed in my clients (thousands of them over 10 years) and these are central to my Feel Good Fitness Philosophy:

  1. Enjoyment Factor: Walking is easier to enjoy. an activity you can learn to enjoy from day one.  Enjoyment is the key to motivation and, hence, to long-term success. When you do something you enjoy, you are less likely to give it up or miss sessions unless you absolutely have to. CrossFit is hard and unpleasant, especially for beginners. Most people only do it for the physical results and hence don’t even expect to enjoy it. This makes it very hard to keep up; you’re tempted to take any excuse to miss a session and most people give it up after a while.  If you do manage to stick with it long enough to get results, when you eventually stop it you’ll lose those results very fast and end up back in square one.
  2. Convenience: Walking is a hassle-free addition to your daily routine. It’s flexible and can be done anywhere, anytime, and the best part is that it won’t cost you a cent. On the other hand, CrossFit can be cost a lot of money and you will have to go to the gym to do it. This takes time and effort – another reason why it’s easier to find an excuse (or sometimes a real reason) to drop it.

In conclusion, when considering an exercise regimen for weight loss and overall well-being, especially for beginners, walking is the best choice! It’s cost-effective, adaptable, and more likely to yield sustainable results, ensuring you stay on the path to a healthier, fitter you. So, ditch the “no pain, no gain” nonsense and start walking your way to success today!

My last WalkFit course of 2023 starts next Monday, 30th October. 
 So if you want to end the year on a high, please join me! January 2024 bookings will open in November!