Chi Walking for Weight Loss

Posted by Katherine Dreyer on Tue May 1st, 2007, No comments (be the first!)

We are often asked if Chi Walking can help with weight loss. The answer is yes, absolutely. When practiced consistently, Chi Walking is a safe and enjoyable way to help you lose and maintain a healthy weight, especially when combined with healthy eating habits. 

Chi Walking combines principles of T’ai Chi with walking to create a fitness program that will strengthen core muscles (like Pilates). It teaches you how to have great posture, which makes you look great and feel fabulous while offering cardio, aerobic and weight bearing benefits. Chi Walking has within it the ageless wisdom of T’ai Chi that nourishes your spirit.

To lose weight you need to do one of two things: eat fewer calories or burn more of the calories you’re consuming. You’ll lose more weight when you do both.

And remember, weight maintenance is just one small part of health management. To feel really energetic, you need to consume calories that are rich in nutrition and good for your health, not empty calories that can actually deplete your health reserves. The same is true for exercise. It is best to do an exercise program that does more than burn calories. You want to find an exercise program that nourishes you, gives you energy, feels good while you’re doing it, and is good for your whole self. Chi Walking offers you all that and more. Chi Walking will keep you healthy for a lifetime.

If Good Health is your Goal, Movement is the Key
Studies show that frequent exercise and good nutrition are the twin pillars of a weight management program that is sustainable for life. Experts suggest at least 30 minutes of continuous exercise at least three times a week to protect the heart. Recent recommendations have bumped it up to as much as 60 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise 5 days a week for cardiovascular benefits and weight control. (Aerobic exercise means rhythmic movement of large muscle groups, such as walking, biking, swimming or dancing.)

We have found that when people rely on exercise alone for weight management, many problems arise, which is why we emphasize healthy eating habits as well. You may tend to overeat as a reward for exercising. “I’ve walked for 45 minutes, so now I deserve that ice cream.” Additionally, when exercise is relied upon for weight loss, people tend to over-exercise, or build up a program too quickly, which results in pain and possibly injury.

To lose weight with the Chi Walking program, you will eventually want to walk five days a week: three days for at least 30 minutes, and two days for 45-60 minutes or more. You can build up to that slowly and steadily. Preventing injury is the number one factor in losing weight with an exercise program. If you get injured, or are in too much pain or stress from your workouts, you’ll soon dread exercising or have to stop altogether. 

The key to exercising is to be gentle with your body and create a consistent program that allows you to keep moving. We highly suggest getting the 8-Week Workbook that will teach you the Chi Walking method safely and effectively while building you up to 5 days a week of walking with a long walk of 60 minutes or more.

With Chi Walking you will safely build a program over time. In addition, you can alleviate pain and reduce the potential for injury from walking incorrectly, including back pain, hip pain, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, blisters and a host of others that may keep you from walking regularly. Chi Walking will teach you how to walk with the correct biomechanics that will keep you moving well for a lifetime.

How Do I Start?
To learn to walk correctly we suggest getting one of the Chi Walking packages that suites your learning style. The Get Fit Package is a great way to get started.

In Chi Walking we believe that how you walk is equally, if not more important than how much you walk. You’ll learn the 5 Mindful Steps (see chapter 2) that get you moving with great walking form:

  1. Get Aligned
  2. Engage your Core
  3. Create Balance
  4. Make a Choice
  5. Move Forward

Reading the book or watching the DVD (whichever suits your learning style) is the place to start. The book will give you an overview of Chi Walking. The DVD is Chapter 4 of the book brought to life.

The Chi Walking Workbook is an 8-week program that will change how you feel about walking and exercise because it's based in a body-friendly approach.

Begin your program by establishing a vision of what you want your walking program to look like. If you are a beginner, you can probably start with at least three days per week. Pick which days you can walk, and then determine what time of day you can devote to walking. Now choose how many minutes you can walk on your chosen days. A good starting point may be 15 minutes. Then make an appointment with yourself for these durations and these days and treat them as you would an appointment with your doctor or tax accountant, or better yet, one of those appointments where you have to pay the full fee if you cancel! 
 
How Much Weight Can I Lose?
We don’t like to measure success by pounds lost. Still, though, we know it is nice to have benchmarks to help us assess our progress, so here is the simple calculus of weight control: weight equals the balance of calories taken in over calories burned. All calories taken in above what your body needs to sustain itself and fuel your activities will turn into pounds on the scale, and more importantly, risk factors for your health. One pound is equal to 3500 calories. So, by having a program with a combination of increased activity and decreased calorie intake you can have a deficit of 3500 calories at the end of the week, meaning you will lose 1 pound that week. By thinking of weight control in this way you create balance in your eating and your activities.

If you walk at a steady pace equivalent to three miles per hour for 30 minutes, you will burn somewhere around 112 calories (assuming a person about 150 pounds/68 kg). If you walk at that pace for 30 minutes three times per week, that’s a raw increase of about 340 calories burned. As you become accustomed to walking, and you increase either the frequency or the speed of your walks (but not both at the same time), you can burn more calories. Walking at the same pace five times a week will burn 550 extra calories. Increasing your pace by just half a mile per hour, or about 17 minute-miles, will burn about 130 calories in the same 30 minutes. Don’t forget about burning fat instead of muscle glycogen. Your body begins to burn fat cells after 30 minutes. After one hour, your body burns 50% fat and 50% glycogen. After two hours, it changes to 70% fat and 30% glycogen … and so on. Get the picture?

How Do I Succeed?
Many experts agree that when you do something consistently for about three weeks, that activity is likely to become a habit. After you have made the choice to keep your walking appointments with yourself for at least three weeks, begin upgrading your program by using any of these increases to up to two walks per week: 

  • add up to a 10% increase in either time or distance
  • add hills or more difficult terrain
  • increase your speed and/or cadence
  • increase the number of walks per week, one walk per week at a time.

All of these upgrades will result in increased calories burned over the course of the week. Remember, when you increase your calorie burn, you need to provide better fuel for your body. Focus on choosing nutrient-dense foods that deliver maximum energy per calorie and avoid calorie-dense foods with little nutritional value. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just reduce those foods that don’t help you achieve your goals.

By following the five mindful steps of Chi Walking, you can get aligned and set goals, make a choice to develop a balanced lifestyle and move forward with your walking program to realize a healthier, leaner you! 

Happy walking!

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Frank and I attended the week long Chi Running program in June.  We have been diligently practicing our Chi Running form and are loving it.  Frank just ran a tough half at 1:40:44 almost effortlessly. 

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