How Much Walking Do I Have To Do Each Day To Lose Weight?

Regular exercise is one way to stay fit and healthy. Being physically active prevents or reduces your likelihood of developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Apart from helping you enjoy a longer, healthier life, exercise also helps you to manage your weight.

Walking is one of the most accessible and low-risk forms of exercise that you can easily incorporate into your daily life to shed fat. The best part is, it’s totally free and you don’t need to have any special gear or equipment. A comfortable pair of shoes is enough to get you up and running – or rather, walking.

However, if your goal is to lose weight, a normal walk may not cut it, unless you are walking long distances. Learn how to walk effectively for weight loss below.

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General health benefits of walking

Walking offers numerous health benefits, which include:

Lowering blood sugar

Short walks after eating can help reduce your blood sugar. A study reveals that taking a 15-minute walk¹ after breakfast, lunch, and dinner improves blood sugar levels more than a single 45-minute walk done at any time during the day.

Strengthens your muscles

Walking, especially in hilly areas, routes with stairs, or on a treadmill with an incline, can help to strengthen the muscles in your legs. You can build up more strength by also adding in exercises such as leg curls, lunges, and squats or cross-training activities such as jogging and cycling.

Relieves joint pain

Walking helps to protect your joints, including the hips and knees, as it lubricates the muscles supporting these joints. It also helps to relieve pain if you have arthritis. In fact, going on a five to six-mile² walk even once a week can help prevent arthritis.

Boosts immune function

Walking can lower your risk of developing a cold or flu. A study³ involving 1,000 individuals over 18 years old during a flu outbreak revealed that those who went on moderately paced walks for 30-45 minutes a day had 43% fewer sick days as well as fewer infections in their upper respiratory tract. When they did get sick, their symptoms were less severe.

If you live in a colder climate or are not able to walk outdoors, you could consider walking inside or on a treadmill daily to experience these health benefits.

Boosts energy

Taking a walk when you feel tired can be more effective⁴ in boosting your energy than drinking coffee. The energy boost comes from the increased oxygen flow and hormones, such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol, that elevate your energy levels.

Improves your mood

Taking a 30-minute brisk walk three days a week can help to lower anxiety, low mood, and depression⁵, supporting your mental health. It can also boost self-esteem and lower symptoms of social withdrawal or isolation.

How to start walking more

If you want to reap the weight loss benefits of walking but don’t know where to start, check out the following tips.

1.    Create a shape-up walking plan

Create a schedule for your weekly walks to start seeing results. Having a structure in place and including variation between workouts will better keep you on track. Then, once you start to feel the difference in your muscles, energy, and endurance, you will be more motivated to keep walking.

2.    Invest in fitness trackers

These devices can motivate you to increase your physical activity, as they log your steps and distance walked. You can check your records on an app on your smartphone.

Walking gadgets can keep you on the move since you want to put them to use. Speed monitors, heart monitors, activity monitors, or even the health app on your smartphone can all make your walks a little more fun and give you a reason to take the steps.

It is recommended that you set your step goal at about 6,000-10,000 per day and look for ways to add more steps into your daily routine outside of your scheduled walks.

3.   Keep a walking journal

You can trace your walking steps, mileage, or minutes in a journal, whether on an app, computer, or on paper. Keep track and sum up your progress every week. By setting a goal, you will soon find yourself walking more just to see those numbers add up.

4.    Purchase new workout gear

Buying new workout clothes is a great incentive to work out more, and once you have them, you’ll want to wear them.

To keep up the motivation even in colder weather, buy warm, layered clothing. You can even keep walking on rainy days by investing in a waterproof jacket or umbrella. For hot weather, buy breathable, lightweight, sweat-wicking clothes and a hat.

Having clothes suited for different conditions ensures you don't postpone your walk simply because the weather isn’t ideal.

5.    Choose the right time

Schedule your walks by choosing a consistent time that works for you. Some people prefer early morning walks to avoid the distractions that inevitably pop up during the day, but you may prefer to get out in the afternoon or to end your day with an evening walk. The bottom line is to choose a time that you can stick to.

How much walking do you need to do to lose weight?

If losing weight is your goal, shedding one pound a week is a sensible target for most people for sustainable weight loss. Walking is a simple, low-impact way to maintain long-term weight loss. 

When you start a new walking routine, you will likely burn more weight as a heavier body burns more calories. As you lose weight, your weight loss from walking may slow.

In terms of how the type of walking you need to do to lose weight, a brisk pace is recommended.

Walking for 30-90 minutes several days each week will help you to lose weight. Walking at a brisk walking pace for 30 minutes typically results in a distance walked of 1.5-2 miles or 3,000-4,500 steps. While you can walk more on some days and less on others, the total walking time per week should be at least 150 minutes⁶.

Make sure not to skip more than one day, as consistency helps to burn calories, improve metabolism, and build healthy new habits. On non-walking days, incorporate strength training exercises.

If you are new to walking, you should start off with shorter walking periods and gradually build up your walking time as your fitness improves.

What do I do if I can't walk for 30 minutes at a time?

If you have a tight schedule that means you can’t find the time for a 30-minute walk, break it up into multiple walks of 10-15 minutes each at a brisk pace.

How many calories can I burn by walking for 30 minutes?

Walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes will burn around 100-300 calories, depending on your weight. If you are heavier, you will burn more calories. You can increase the number of days you walk each week to increase your calories burned.

How to burn more calories while walking

1.    Monitor your heart rate 

You can track your calorie burn by wearing a heart rate monitor while walking. Wear a heart rate monitor or fitness tracker for a few workouts to determine your average heart rate⁷, then aim for 5-10 beats above your baseline to burn more calories in each walking workout.

2.    Workout in intervals

Working out in intervals involves alternating between higher and lower-intensity exercises for maximum calorie burn. Higher-intensity workouts burn more calories than maintaining the same lower intensity for the same period of time. This is because of the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) or after-burn effect, where you keep burning calories after a workout.

A sample workout could alternate between 30-60 seconds of speed walking and 60 seconds of walking at a normal pace.

3.    Add in hills

Another strategy to burn more calories during your walk is to find a hill or to increase the incline if you are on a treadmill. More difficult walking paths intensify the calorie burn.

4.    Use walking poles

You can use walking poles to engage your upper body while walking, which helps burn more calories. Walking poles also reduce the impact on knees and increase walking speed as they reduce perceived exertion which means walking seems like it is easier, but there is no physical difference.

5.    Add resistance

You can burn more calories while you walk by adding in resistance. For example, wearing a weighted vest can be a good option since it evenly distributes the added weight. You may also consider light hand weights. However, ankle weights should generally be avoided as they change your natural gait.

The lowdown

When you kick off any new weight-loss journey, the most important thing to remember is that sustainable weight loss takes time. Walking is an ideal activity to lose weight and improve your overall health.

A 30-minute brisk walk daily helps to burn between 100-300 calories, depending on your weight, and amping up the intensity of your walking workout increases the calorie burn.

As with any workout program, make sure to balance out the walking with rest, as overexercising can lead to burnout, soreness, or injury. If you are new to walking, start short and slow, and gradually build up to longer or more intense walks.

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