Walking For Weight Loss – How Much and How Often

  • Usman 

Recently, a lot of discussion has been generated about walking for weight loss. We are become more conscious of how sedentary our lifestyles have become and our ambitions are now to lose weight.

For thousands of years, human life was all about walking during the day and resting at night. We were hunter-gatherers who could look for food on foot. This continued till we settled in cities. However, still walking and physical activity was integral part of human life.

Human body has been designed structurally to be bipedal but the industrial revolution has really reduced (in many cases read eliminated) our walking time. A study published in 2015 found that modern sedentary lifestyle is linked with at least 30 disease.

However, things have changed drastically during the last 200 hours with scientific inventions that have made our lives easier and gradually taken physical exertion out of our lives. Especially the last 50 years have been defining in terms of human luxury. Our work, commute and entertainment have all taken their share of our daily walking for weight loss.

What is sitting disease?

In fact, recently scientists have started to term this sedentary life as sitting disease. Increased sitting time has been linked with early death and host of many chronic diseases. (1) (2) (3)

Another scientific study found the direct link between increased sitting time and increased mortality. (4)

Physical activity had numerous benefits for human health. Modern science universally acknowledges benefits of physical activity in primary and secondary prevention many chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and hypertension. (5)

Another study has found that increased physical activity is linked to better quality life, better health outcomes and happiness. (6)

And the easiest physical activity is walking. So lets see how walking improves our health and life.

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What are benefits of walking?

First off, walking for weight loss is the easiest physical activity. Therefore, the first benefit is that it can make you active and decrease significantly all the risk factors we discussed above. When you walk to lose weight, you also contribute to society because you indirectly reduce health care costs for the society. (7)

It is perhaps the most accessible form of exercise. You can start it anywhere. No special equipment or costly gym meberships are required.

A study of data from more than 18,000 individuals has shown that walking has been shown to be one of the exercises that is effective even when you are genetically predisposed to obesity. (8)

Walking for weight loss is also one of the safest exercises which is suitable for almost everyone because it is easy to adjust your speed of walking.

Can you lose weight by walking?

In fact, you most definitely can. Walking to lose weight is a reality. Because when you walk you spend calories. And weight loss has a lot to do with increasing calorie expenditure and diet control.

How many calories are burned walking? This actually depends on your speed. Naturally, brisk walking helps you burn more calories when compared with leisure walking when you dog walking. The below table shows the types of walking and the average calories burned for a person with 155 lbs weight. If you want to know about your weight and how many calories are burned while walking for weight loss and other exercises then click here or here.

Nature of WalkCalories burned in 30 minutesCalories burned in 60 minutes
Slow Walk (2 miles per hour)88176
Walking Moderate Pace, Dog walk (3 miles per hour)123246
Walking Brisk Pace (4 miles per hour)140281
Walking Brisk Pace, Uphill (3.5 miles per hour)211422
Jogging246493
Source: Based on data from Department of Health, Wisconsin Government

Does walking help you lose weight? Medical research suggests so which should not be surprising because some types of walking burn many calories. But, you should be careful that walking only works when your body is exerting. And that will vary from person to person based on how fit one is. Studies also show that walking is dose responsive for weight loss which means that more you walk more weight you lose. (9)

Can you lose weight just by walking?

Can I lose weight by walking 30 minutes every day? Or do I need to walk one hour a day for weight loss? If you only want to gain health benefits of walking without worrying about weight loss, then 30 minute of walk is as effective as 60 minutes of walk on five days a week.

But you won’t lose a lot of weight either way. Though it is logical that you will lose more body fat when you walk 60 minutes a day because initially your body will use glucose for initial 30 minutes and then switch to stored fats for energy. That’s when the true benefits of walking for weight loss come.

A study published in International Journal of Obesity noted that without an effective diet plan, neither 30 minute nor 60 minutes of walking independently lead to significant weight loss. (10)

Can you lose belly fat by walking? Yes, but only if you walk more than 30 minutes but after that your body starts to tap stored fats in the body.

Another common question is: Does walking burn fat thighs? As a matter of fact, if you walk more than 30 minutes you will burn fat from your body but it will not be just from thighs alone. Spot reduction of fat doesn’t work. But when you will lose weight by walking, it will also be from thighs.

Will walking 10000 steps help lose weight?

Almost it has become standard advice to target 10000 steps every day of walking to lose weight. Most apps will encourage you to set this target of daily walking. However, it is not scientifically proven that you must take 10,000 steps every day for good health. According to normative data, humans take between 4,000 to 18,000 steps per day.

Based on this, 10,000 steps appear to be a good target. A study published in 2011 suggested a reasonable threshold of 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day. (11)

But, there is not doubt that if you can achieve 10,000 steps a day target, you will consume about 500 calories which will help you generate an excellent calorie deficit, which is a proven way of weight loss.

How much do you have to talk to lose weight?

But how much walking for weight loss is good enough? According to simple math by Harvard, you will need to walk 35 miles (56.33 km) to lose one pound of fat. So if you are relying on just walking for losing weight, it will happen but it will take many years.

Walking for weight loss tips

Walking to lose weight is the easiest and most enjoyable of all exercises. Here are some tips to help you make the best use of this exercise for optimizing weight loss.

  • Try to pick up pace. Walking will benefit most if its at least moderate intensity.
  • If you are not feeling the intensity, try walking uphill.
  • Try to maximize your walk output by using power walk intervals. Power walk is the maximum speed at which you can walk. Try this for intervals of between 10 and 15 seconds.
  • Research has shown that short duration walks on multiple times of the day are more beneficial than one long walk
  • Try to increase your distance each day with target of one hour of walk for five days a week.
  • Target consistency and not to skip more than one day because it will keep your metabolism working at maximum levels.

The bottom line

While walking to lose weight is the easiest of the physical activities and carries a lot of health benefits apart from helping you lose weight. But if you consider walking for weight loss, you should note that it will be slow and gradual.

You can lose weight by just walking but it will take a long time. The best strategy is to combine walking with a low calorie diet. You will give yourself a good chance of effective weight loss.

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Muhammad Usman

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