Fact checkedFact Checked

This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.

 

Walking For Weight Loss: Does It Truly Help You Burn Fat?

Mitchelle Morgan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

walking for weight loss

Did you know that you can lose weight by following a walking program? Walking for weight loss can benefit a beginner or a person who wants to diversify their workouts. It’s by far the simplest form of physical activity that you can do anywhere.

Walking 10,000 steps are easy to do while expending energy. You also don’t need any equipment or a trainer to get started. Simply get out the front door, pick a destination and begin. It’s an easy exercise that can be enjoyed daily and one in which you can invite others to join in.

Can You Lose Weight by Walking Regularly?

Every person requires energy in the form of calories for body functions to keep going. Your body can’t keep going if you don’t eat.

But, with a poor diet, you may consume more calories than the body needs, and excess calories are stored as body fat. The only way to get rid of excess fat[1] in your body is to burn more calories than you consume. That means getting active to burn calories and consuming less food.

When you have a goal of losing weight and burning calories, you have to get up and start exercising. Now, it’s hard for many people to head to the gym and start sweating. By day 3, you feel like your body hates you and wants to quit.

Is walking good for weight loss? Simple exercises like walking are more appealing, especially if you’re overweight or obese. Excess fat, especially in the mid-section[2], poses many health risks. This excess fat puts you at risk of health conditions like type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and heart disease illnesses.

However, power walking 10,000 steps, for example, can help you reduce belly fat and lower the risk for these health conditions. In a small study[3] where the participants were obese women, they would walk for 70 minutes each week for three months. The results of the study showed a reduction in waist circumference and insulin resistance.

How Many Calories Are Burned While Walking?

It’s essential to start with simple physical exercises like power walking, which help you with effective calorie burn. When you walk only for 1 mile, you can burn up to 100 calories[4] But, this varies depending on your body weight and sex.

In a study[5],  average fitness participants took a brisk walking challenge for 3.2 miles per hour. The results showed that these participants who took part in the fast walking challenge burned 90 calories per 1 mile.

As you get your body accustomed to brisk pace walking, you can find ways to burn more calories. For instance, if you want more movement, choose routes with hills since they pose more challenges[6]. You need more energy walking uphill than on a flat surface, thus, burning more calories.

The best way to find out how many calories you can burn through walking is to use a calorie calculator. The calculators consider your weight, walking pace, BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), and walk duration.

In terms of an equation:

Calories burned per minute = (MET x bodyweight in kg x 3.5) /200

A MET is the measure of physical activity and can be found on a chart[7]

An example is:

A woman weighing 132 pounds walks her dog on a straight terrain for 30 minutes. First, we find her weight in kg by taking 132/2.2 lbs per kg = 60 kg. From looking at the MET chart, we see that a normal pace on a plowed piece of land is 4.5. The calculation is {(4.5 x 60) x 3.5}/200 =945/200=4.725 calories per minute x 30 minutes = 141.75 calories for walking the dog.

How Much Should I Walk to Lose Weight?

Many benefits come with walking 10,000 steps a day, including better mental health. Not only do you start your fitness journey, but you make your body healthier. In addition, walking for weight loss also reduces your risk of falling ill and improves your wellbeing.

However, you have to develop a walking plan to reap health benefits like better mental health. Walking for 150 minutes or more per week is quite beneficial in burning many calories. It involves going for a moderate-intensity walk for 2.5 hours per week.

One of the best ways to time yourself and check on your progress is by wearing a fitness tracker. Every day, you can keep track[8] of your steps and the number of calories you burn. At the end of the week, you can analyze and decide how to improve the results.

Another relevant study[9] included participants who walked for 60 minutes 5 days per week. They were also on a controlled diet and continued with this trial for 12 weeks. Other participants were on the controlled diet only. At the end of the trial, those who walked had lost more inches on their waistlines.

Still, before you engage in walking for weight loss, speak to a Registered Dietitian. They can help you design a proper walking plan and diet.

Walking Tips to Lose Weight

Longer Walks at a Moderate Intensity

When doing any aerobic exercise like walking 10,000 steps, it’s better to do so faster. Therefore, start the longer walks, then increase your pace with every mile for better weight control.

There is scientific proof that increasing your pace[10] helps you burn more calories. Picking up your pace will increase your heart rate, but you won’t have to run. It’s a great way to enjoy an active lifestyle.

Put on a Weighted Vest

Have you ever noticed that heavier people lose weight faster when taking part in brisk walking? They require more energy to walk 10,000 steps or perform other physical activities[11]. If you’re lighter and want to burn more calories, you can wear a weighted vest.

But, avoid wearing any ankle or wrist weights when walking since these can lead to injury or muscle complications such as torn ligaments.

Increase Steps

Moderate-intensity walking programs can help you lose weight by burning calories. The more you engage in daily walking, the more fat you burn. If you want to keep having better results, keep increasing your steps. You can even target adding a specific number of steps a day.

With time, you can challenge your body to walk 10,000 steps or more a day. You can walk to work, up the steps of your office building, to lunch, or anywhere else. The goal is to cover more steps that you can monitor using a digital step counter.

Create a Playlist

Do you want to enjoy weight loss by walking more? You can do so by coming up with an excellent walking program playlist. Compile the best songs you can enjoy during your walks, making the workout less boring.

Plus, a good fast-paced playlist helps you keep up the moderate intensity in your active lifestyle. Therefore, add songs with a faster tempo when you want to adjust the pace of your brisk pace walk.

Do Some Resistance Training

Walking briskly alone is great, but it gets better when incorporating some more exercises. For example, halfway through the daily walk, you can take a moment to do some squats, planks, lunges, or pushups.

These are short interval exercises[12] that are excellent for losing weight. Plus, they can help you build muscle and make your body agile. Always add resistance training to your aerobic exercise routine, including hand weights.

Find a Walking Buddy or Group

Moderate intensity walking alone can be a great way to achieve your weight loss goals. But, there are many overall health benefits of walking briskly with a friend or as part of a group. As a beginner, being part of a group can help you find an excellent place to walk and keep at it.

In addition, having a walking buddy takes the focus out of the exercise and onto other things. You can even go on walk dates where you enjoy each other’s company and calorie burn along the way.

Come up with a Plan

While it’s easy to get up, put on walking shoes, and go briskly, having a plan can be beneficial. You can search for or create a walking for weight loss plan. It will contain details like how much weight to lose when you should walk, and how long.

You can also add a healthy diet section to this plan to help you eat healthier foods. Each day, you have to check your plan and mark your activities for accountability. It can also be your routine walking journal where you log routes you take, including walking uphill.

Conclusion

Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to achieve more weight loss by expending energy. One of the easiest and best ways to lose weight is walking briskly. You have to put on comfortable clothes, choose supportive shoes,  pick a route, and start.

Brisk pace walking helps achieve effective calorie burn and improves your overall health. Peer-reviewed studies show that having a walking routine can help you burn calories. You can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes while improving mental health and losing weight.


+ 12 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Thom, G. and Lean, M. (2017). Is There an Optimal Diet for Weight Management and Metabolic Health? Gastroenterology, [online] 152(7), pp.1739–1751. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28214525/ ‌
  2. Bentham Science Publisher, B.S.P. (2006). Metabolic Obesity: The Paradox Between Visceral and Subcutaneous Fat. Current Diabetes Reviews, [online] 2(4), pp.367–373. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18220642/ ‌
  3. Hong, H.-R., Jeong, J.-O., Kong, J.-Y., Lee, S.-H., Yang, S.-H., Ha, C.-D. and Kang, H.-S. (2014). Effect of walking exercise on abdominal fat, insulin resistance and serum cytokines in obese women. Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry, [online] 18(3), pp.277–285. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25566464/ ‌
  4. Loftin, M., Waddell, D.E., Robinson, J.H. and Owens, S.G. (2010). Comparison of Energy Expenditure to Walk or Run a Mile in Adult Normal Weight and Overweight Men and Women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, [online] 24(10), pp.2794–2798. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20613650/‌
  5. Wilkin, L.D., Cheryl, A. and Haddock, B.L. (2012). Energy Expenditure Comparison Between Walking and Running in Average Fitness Individuals. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, [online] 26(4), pp.1039–1044. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22446673/
  6. ‌Ainslie, P.N., Campbell, I.T., Frayn, K.N., Humphreys, S.M., Maclaren, D.P.M. and Reilly, T. (2002). Physiological and metabolic responses to a hill walk. Journal of Applied Physiology, [online] 92(1), pp.179–187. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11744658/ ‌
  7. Captain Calculator. (2020). Calories Burned Walking | Calculator & Formula – Captain Calculator. [online] Available at: https://captaincalculator.com/health/calorie/calories-burned-walking-calculator/ ‌
  8. Bravata, D.M., Smith-Spangler, C., Sundaram, V., Gienger, A.L., Lin, N., Lewis, R., Stave, C.D., Olkin, I. and Sirard, J.R. (2007). Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health. JAMA, [online] 298(19), p.2296. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18029834/ ‌
  9. Bond Brill, J., Perry, A., Parker, L., Robinson, A. and Burnett, K. (2002). Dose–response effect of walking exercise on weight loss. How much is enough? International Journal of Obesity, [online] 26(11), pp.1484–1493. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12439651/
  10. The Nutrition Source. (2020). Walking for Exercise. [online] Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/walking/
  11. ‌PUTHOFF, M.L., DARTER, B.J., NIELSEN, D.H. and YACK, H.J. (2006). The Effect of Weighted Vest Walking on Metabolic Responses and Ground Reaction Forces. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, [online] 38(4), pp.746–752. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16679992/ ‌
  12. Takai, Y., Fukunaga, Y., Fujita, E., Mori, H., Yoshimoto, T., Yamamoto, M. and Kanehisa, H. (2013). Effects of body mass-based squat training in adolescent boys. Journal of sports science & medicine, [online] 12(1), pp.60–5. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761779/
Mitchelle Morgan

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Mitchelle Morgan is a health and wellness writer with over 10 years of experience. She holds a Master's in Communication. Her mission is to provide readers with information that helps them live a better lifestyle. All her work is backed by scientific evidence to ensure readers get valuable and actionable content.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Harvard Health Publishing

Database from Health Information and Medical Information

Harvard Medical School
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

WHO

Database from World Health Organization

Go to source

Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology
Go to source

MDPI

United Nations Global Compact
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Department of Health and Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source