If the idea of joining a gym or attending an intense Spin class seems too intimidating, we have good news: you don't need high-intensity exercise to lose weight if you're a true beginner. Sure, it helps — HIIT has been shown to target belly fat, specifically — but you can increase your daily activity just by walking.
Walking can be an effective weight-loss tool, whether you're heading on a brisk walk after dinner or completing a walking treadmill workout. And even when you're not actively walking for exercise, racking up your steps can help you achieve your weight-loss goals. It's all apart of NEAT, which stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis: the amount of activity you get in a day outside of formal exercise.
"The difference in energy expenditure between someone who is active all day and someone who is sedentary can run into hundreds and hundreds of calories," Eric Bowling, an NASM-certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance who helps clients lose weight, told POPSUGAR.
One of the best ways to increase your NEAT is to get in more steps. If you're a true beginner and completely new to exercise, Eric said to set your goal to something a little more realistic: 6,000 steps a day. "Then as you get into the habit and regularly hit your daily step target, increase this gradually toward 10,000-12,000 steps per day," he said.
Track your steps with a pedometer, Fitbit, Apple Watch, or a free app on your smartphone. If you're like most Americans who drive to work, sit at a desk job for eight or so hours, and drive home only to veg out on the couch, then be strategic about getting your steps in: park your car further away from your destination, get off a few stops early if you take public transportation, walk the dog for a little longer, take a stroll around the block during your lunch break, or take the stairs at the office. Every little bit adds up, and increasing your NEAT is an essential key to achieving your weight-loss goals.