In other words they really are not walking as much as they think they are.
Furthermore, when it comes to weight loss they ignore walking as an option because they don't realize how many calories the simple act of walking burns. They think it is such a tiny amount that they ignore it.
But I am going to show you the math behind how one woman in Iowa - who weighed 370 lbs when she started her walking regimen - lost 200 lbs just by walking around the airport terminal where she works. (You can Google the appropriate keywords to find this news story if you want to. The woman's name is Jill Vento.)
1 lb of fat = 3,500 calories.
200 lbs of fat = 700,000 calories.
Now you might think "Hey, that is going to require a lot of walking!"
But probably not as much as you think.
The woman in question did it by walking 15 minutes at a time (during breaks / etc), twice per day, 5 days per week. The news articles talking about her feat don't tell us how fast she was going, but we can assume as she got stronger and thinner she started walking faster.
Thus I have done the math for how many calories a 370 lb woman burns for 3 different speeds:
Walking 2 mph for 15 minutes - 117 calories
Walking 3 mph for 15 minutes - 183 calories
Walking 4 mph for 15 minutes - 216 calories
In the beginning she was only shedding 117 calories each time, and in the beginning she was only doing it once per day. But as she got stronger / more motivated she started walking twice per day and eventually three times per day. So for simplicity's sake we shall calculate that she was doing 10 fifteen minute walks per week. 117 x 10 = 1170 calories. Slightly more than one third of a pound of fat.
At that speed it would have taken her 600 weeks (11.53 years) to burn 700,000 calories. And yes, that would be a lot of walking - were it not for the fact that she started walking faster, getting additional exercise, and eating healthier too, thus speeding up the weight loss process.
In the first 9 weeks of walking she would have noticed that she lost 3 lbs - possibly more if she was getting additional exercise from other sources and eating healthy - which would explain why she eventually started walking around the airport terminal 3 times per day to speed up the process.
Plus as she got stronger she started walking faster and faster. So now we have to do the math again.
At this point lets assume she has already lost 70 lbs and now weighs 300 lbs instead of 370 (which conversely means she only has 455,000 left to go). But we will calculate that she is walking 4 mph instead because she gotten a lot faster.
Walking 2 mph for 15 minutes - 95 calories
Walking 3 mph for 15 minutes - 148 calories
Walking 4 mph for 15 minutes - 176 calories
As you can see she is using less energy at the slower speed, and the 3 mph speed is only marginally using more energy. The 4 mph speed is where she really burning calories fast.
At this point we will also calculate that she is walking at this speed 15 times per week. 176 x 15 = 2,640 calories. That is 75% of 1 lb. So she is losing 3 lbs every 4 weeks at this point.
At this point she has really started to see the difference. She is having to buy new clothes that fit her better, she is feeling super positive about herself, she doesn't binge eat when she is depressed any more (this is a common problem for obese people who binge eat their favourite comfort foods). She is seeing lots of results. At that rate she is losing 39.2 lbs per year.
Probably more if she is getting outside and doing other activities simultaneously, trying new activities, taking up bicycling or swimming.
Walking may not seem like it burns a lot of calories, but you know how people like to say that cigarettes/pot are gateway drugs? Well walking is a gateway exercise that gets you exercising plus opens your body and mind to the idea of other exercises.
Walking is a gateway exercise that gets you exercising plus opens your body and mind to the idea of other exercises.
And the next thing you know, it is several years later, you've lost 200 lbs and you feel really proud of yourself. Losing 50 lbs per year means you can be a whole new person in just 4 years. And all it takes is the will to start walking.
A journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step.