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The Science Behind Moderate Intensity Walking for Overweight Individuals

by briangryn | June 25, 2023 | Eat Clean Get Lean

The negative impact of sedentary lifestyles on our health is undeniable. In fact, obesity and physical inactivity are two of the leading causes of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Fortunately, physical activity is a powerful tool to combat these health issues. Walking, in particular, has been shown to be a convenient and low-impact way to start exercising.  

Many studies have shown that walking is one of the most effective ways to reduce body fat and improve overall health. Not only is it a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints, but it also requires no special equipment. We’ll explore how walking exercise can have a significant impact on abdominal fat, insulin resistance, and serum cytokines in obese women.

Moderate Intensity Walking Exercise

Moderate intensity walking exercise is defined as a level of physical activity that elevates one's heart rate, breathing, and body temperature, but still allows for the ability to carry on a conversation.

Visceral Fat

Abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, is the type of fat that accumulates in the abdomen and around vital organs. Visceral fat is linked to several health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In a study conducted by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, obese women who walked for 45 minutes five times a week for six months showed a significant reduction in abdominal fat compared to those who didn’t exercise. The study also indicated that this abdominal fat loss was greater in women who walked at a brisk pace.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a metabolic disorder that causes cells to become resistant to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. It is a crucial contributor to obesity and type 2 diabetes. In a study conducted by the University of Missouri, obese women who walked four days a week for eight weeks showed a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity compared to those who didn’t exercise. The study also found that these women had reduced levels of fasting insulin, a marker of insulin resistance.


Cytokines are small proteins in the body that play a critical role in the immune system’s response to infection and inflammation. Obese individuals tend to have higher levels of cytokines, which can cause chronic inflammation and contribute to several health problems, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A study conducted by the University of Illinois found that walking exercise can reduce cytokine levels in obese women. The study showed that walking for 12 weeks resulted in a significant decrease in serum cytokines, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and C-reactive protein (CRP).

Walking exercise is not only beneficial to physical health, but it has also been linked to improved mental health. Walking induces chemicals in the brain that promote feelings of happiness and well-being, which can reduce stress and anxiety. In a study conducted by the U of Michigan, individuals who walked for 30 minutes at a brisk pace experienced a 20% reduction in symptoms of depression.


Overall, walking exercise is a low-impact, inexpensive and effective way for obese women to improve their health. It has been shown to reduce abdominal fat, improve insulin sensitivity, decrease inflammation and even improve mental health. It’s important to start slowly, build a routine and gradually increase the duration and intensity of the workouts. With time and consistency, walking exercise can be an excellent tool for individuals who want to achieve better health and fitness.

Remember, every step counts – don't stop moving!


P.S. If you haven't checked out my new book called The Stepladder System - learn more about it here! Also, check out my podcast page for some great interviews!


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