Can you lose weight by walking? Technically, the Answer to this question is yes, you can. However, a better answer might be ‘it depends.’ Walking for weight loss, an easy and inexpensive activity helps you burn calories and tone muscles to burn fat. The leaner body mass or muscle tissue you have, the more calories you will expend daily, even while at rest.
Burn Calories to Lose Weight by Walking
To lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume, creating a calorie deficit. Whether or not you can lose weight by walking depends upon the FIT principle, the frequency, intensity, and time (or duration) of the activity.
According to the National Institutes of Health, it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories in one week, or 500 calories per day for seven days, to lose 1 lb. Talking frequent, vigorous walks daily, paired with a reduced-calorie diet, helps to create that deficit, resulting in slow, steady lose weight by walking.
Calories Expenditure Depends upon Weight
Casual strollers may only walk about 2 miles per hour (mph) while very brisk walkers can clock up to 5mph. The average amount of calories you expend depends upon your weight; the more you weigh the more you will burn, your pace, and other factors.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), if you weigh 140 lbs and walk at a very brisk pace for 40 minutes, you will burn about 212 calories. Increase the speed and duration, walking at a faster pace (about 5mph) for 50 minutes and burn 476 calories, nearly meeting the daily deficit required to lose 1 lb per week.
How Does Walking Help You Lose Weight?
Walking involves moving the major muscles of your body. Walking briskly elevates your heart rate and, in doing so, becomes an ‘aerobic’ activity or exercise. Aerobic exercise burns calories while toning muscles and helps to lose weight by walking.
Necessary for weight loss
The more frequent and intense the exercise, the more calories you burn while engaging in the activity. Exercising and following a reduced-calorie diet creates a calorie deficit which is necessary for weight loss. A calorie deficit occurs when you expend more calories than you require for weight maintenance.
How Much Should You Walk to Lose Weight?
Walk to Lose Weight
The frequency, intensity, and duration of your fitness walks may depend upon several factors such as your current fitness level, work schedule, available time, and desired weight loss goals. After receiving a physician’s ‘okay’ for exercise, beginners should start out slowly, perhaps with a 20-minute moderate walk on a relatively flat surface. This is likely enough to get your heart pumping and strengthen your muscles.
How long should I walk?
To lose weight by walking, strive to walk as much as possible without pushing through pain and risking injury. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to help maintain healthy body weight, most American adults need to engage in about 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorously-intense cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, on most days of the week in addition to consuming a sensible diet.
It may take some time (several weeks) to work up to one hour of brisk walking to lose weight. You may break this up into shorter segments as long as your total walking time is about 60 minutes.
Exercise Program to Lose weight must Well-Rounded
For optimal physical fitness and weight loss results, make sure your exercise program is well-rounded. Include flexibility exercises, such as stretching and resistance training exercises to enhance muscular strength and endurance. This may push your total workout length closer to 90 minutes.
You do not have to perform resistance training exercises daily. Strive to work all of the large muscles of your body (total body) two to three times weekly. In terms of the cardiovascular component, concentrate more on the speed and intensity of your walking than the total distance. As you become more fit, it takes a more difficult intensity level and a longer period of time, to reach your target heart rate zone.
Walking Program to Lose Weight
Body Resistance Training Sessions
A sample walking program for weight loss will vary depending upon the exerciser’s fitness level (beginner, intermediate, advanced); however, all walkers should warm-up with a slow walk or marching for 5 minutes prior to his/her workout and end the workout with a 5-minute cooldown, followed by stretching. For best results, all walking programs should include at least two total-body resistance training sessions for muscle toning.
Read About: Does Walking Burn Fat?
Build Up to Your Target
You may use resistance tubing, a stability ball, free weights, dumbbells, or your own body weight to enhance muscular strength and endurance. Even if you are an intermediate-level exerciser, as long as you are new to walking, the best option is to build up to your target duration, speed, and intensity level slowly. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends increasing these factors over 12 weeks.
Maintain A Walking Schedule
If you are trying to lose weight by walking, maintain a walking schedule of least five sessions per week after the three-month mark. If you are a beginning exerciser, start with three walks weekly and build up to five walks per week. Regardless of whether you are walking on a treadmill or outdoors, try ‘interval training’ or incorporating short periods of increased speed and/or incline throughout your workout.
This sample walking schedule for weight loss might be appropriate for the intermediate-level exerciser. ‘Brisk to very brisk walking’ is 3.5 to 4.5 miles per hour (mph). Do not forget to stretch post-cool-down. This is only a suggested schedule. For a personalized/customized workout regimen, consult a certified personal trainer and/or other qualified fitness professional.
- S. National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health – Medline Plus Fact Sheet: Tips for Losing Weight.
- M Navratilova. Walking: The Easiest Exercise. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP); Sept 2010.
- American Council on Exercise (ACE); ACE Get Fit: Physical activity Calorie Calculator.
- S. Dept. of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005: Chapter 4 – Physical Activity.
- Position of the American Dietetic Association: Weight Management. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Feb 2009;109(2): 330-346.
- National Institutes of Health: Medline Plus-Exercise and Lose Weight by walking.