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Walking for Weight Loss: Discover How Al Roker’s Easy Walking Hack Is Helping Women Burn Fat 6.3x Faster

The 'TODAY' show host shares how he walked off weight, and an MD shares why it really works

We love inspirational social media posts from Today weatherman Al Roker about his walking workouts. We also love why he makes ’em: to show folks how big an impact such simple movement can have—even for those of us who haven’t exercised in ages. “We hear a lot about walking 10,000 steps, but you don’t have to start with that,” he insists. “Maybe you just go around your block or take a 15-minute walk after dinner. Studies show how beneficial it is. You don’t even have to walk fast!”

It was the exact message Detricia Woods-Meadows needed to hear. “I could only manage 3,000 steps a day at first,” recalls the Dallas project analyst, 52, who walked almost entirely inside her home. Yet it was plenty. In mere weeks, “I woke up and realized my back didn’t hurt anymore.” Within a year, she’d reversed prediabetes and shed 65 pounds. Keep reading for scientific proof that tiny daily step goals can speed us toward lean, good health.

Walking for weight loss: How Detricia got started

How did Detricia’s walking journey begin? “I was scrolling on Facebook and read that two friends had passed, one from heart disease and one from diabetes,” she recalls. “They were my age, and it scared me.” Besides blood sugar and back trouble, “I got winded easily, had constant knee pain and was always tired. But I wasn’t ready for ‘RIP’ next to my name.”

Detricia called her cousin Anthony in a panic; he agreed they’d get healthy together. She then hit the internet to do research. She found the story of a retired nurse who lost 55 pounds and canceled knee replacement surgery after changing her diet and counting steps with help from Al Roker and the Start TODAY Facebook group. “It said she was just walking inside her house. Suddenly, I knew that’s what I was going to do too.”

Detricia and Anthony agreed 3,000 steps a day was a doable target for her. She walked a little route through her house, using a step-counting app to track her progress. “I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I loved that it was free and easy to jump in,” she recalls. Experts say because 3,000 steps seemed like no big deal is likely why it was so effective. (See how many calories your burn while walking and how to soothe hip joint pain when walking).

Walking for weight loss: Why step counting is magic

Walking does a lot of great things for our bodies no matter how we do it. But step counting—a strategy whose devotees include Al, Detricia and many members of the Start TODAY program—has distinct advantages. “Step counting makes being active like a game. And if something is fun, we’re more apt to do it,” shares certified personal trainer and Today fitness contributor Stephanie Mansour. “It’s also flexible. You’re not saying, ‘I have to dedicate an hour to walk.’ You can go to the mailbox, do laundry, run errands. It all counts.”

Mansour adds that, just like passing a level on Candy Crush, racking up 1,000 steps “gives you a hit of dopamine,” a brain chemical that makes things feel good. “It makes you want to walk more and more.” Detricia backs her up. “A few weeks in, I accidentally went over 3,000 steps. Anthony said, ‘Good, let’s go for 5,000.’” She felt a real thrill when she did it. “Every few weeks, I’d push it by 500 steps. I couldn’t wait!”

More evidence of the effect: In one study, a group of women were given the same diet and exercise guidelines; half were also given step counters. The no-frills devices helped test subjects shed an average of 19 pounds in 12 weeks—6.3 times more than those who didn’t count steps. Why? The team who led the project believes seeing steps add up had an incredibly powerful impact, making women far more motivated and consistent.

Walking for weight loss: How your body will thank you

When we increase the steps we take, we burn extra calories. But it’s so much more than that. For example, walking puts less stress on our bodies, which actually gives our systems the ability to burn more stored fat as fuel—so much so that a recent University of Michigan study found gentle walks help older women triple fat burn compared to more vigorous exercise.

Walking also builds strong, metabolism-boosting muscle, notes Mansour. And as muscles pump during walks, they help significantly improve blood-sugar control—another factor that lets us burn fat more readily. Plus, better blood sugar tends to reduce cravings.

Bonus: Experts tell us research in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association shows that getting at least 10,000 steps a day—something both Detricia and Al aim for—can improve heart health and reduce cancer risks better than any existing medication. And walking revs blood flow and boosts our brains in so many ways, a recent study found getting over 9,800 steps
a day cuts dementia risk by 50%.

Sample Breakfast

Mix 2 Tbs. protein powder in 34 cup milk (plant or dairy) to dissolve. Stir in 2 Tbs. chia and healthy sweetener to taste. Chill at least 1 hr.; serve with fruit.

Sample Lunch

Mix 5 oz. drained tuna with 3 Tbs. protein-rich Greek yogurt, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and diced veggies to taste. Serve over salad.

Sample Dinner

Top whole-grain or low-carb crackers with avocado, lemon juice, hardboiled eggs and seasoning; enjoy with sliced veggies.

Bonus recipe: Tex-Mex taco fun!

Each serving of this yummy recipe boasts 39 grams of protein

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cups jarred salsa
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water

Instructions:

  1. Add chicken and seasoning to slow cooker. Layer on beans, salsa and broth. Cover; cook on low 6 hours.
  2. Shred chicken with two forks (you can pull it out of the slow cooker to do this if you wish, then add it back in). Give everything a good mix.
  3. Warm regular or low-carb tortillas, fill with the chicken mixture and add any healthy taco toppings you like. Serves 4.

For more on walking, click through the links below!

Studies Prove Group Walking Is Even Better At Boosting Weight Loss

These Two Sisters Walked Off 373 Lbs – Here’s How Walking Poles Helped Them Succeed

New Twist on Walking Is Helping Women Lose Weight Faster: What You Need to Know About Rucking

Women Over 50 Are Losing 100+ lbs Without Dieting Just By Walking First Thing In the Morning

Walk Off the Weight Using Probiotics — Here’s How

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