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There was an article in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise comparing walking distance and weight loss in over 27,000 women. The researchers found "decline in adiposity" (fat loss) per kilometer walked to be greatest in overweight, sedentary women, and least in those who were lean and active. This doesn't seem to be a big surprise. You would think that overweight people would be more likely to lose weight from exercise than normal weight individuals. But if exercise burns calories, it should burn calories for everybody.
The fact is, the larger your body mass, the more energy it takes to move it, thus more calories are expended per mile for the larger person. The body pretty much takes care of these things, if you listen to it, so that if you are lean and exercise a lot, you compensate for the calories expended by eating more. The same article tells us that the decline in body mass index was more for walkers than for runners. This is not because walking burns more calories per mile or kilometer than running does, but rather that runners were leaner to start with.
The good news from all this is that walking contributes to weight loss for overweight individuals, apparently the more walking the more weight loss. This was regular walking. Nordic walking burns more calories for the same distance, so is better yet for weight loss. What about the lean women? They still get all the other health benefits from walking, and these are considerable.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|