How Much Walking For Weight Loss? 8 Expert Tips To Burn Fat

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Walking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise because it is beginner-friendly and requires little to no specialized gear aside from a good pair of walking shoes.

Walking also provides numerous physical and mental health benefits.1Object, object. (n.d.). The effect of walking on risk factors for cardiovascular disease: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised control trials. Core.ac.uk. https://core.ac.uk/reader/185482381?utm_source=linkout

These include strengthening the heart and lungs, improving aerobic capacity, helping manage blood sugar levels, strengthening the muscles in your legs, decreasing blood pressure, improving mood, and supporting overall health.

Another benefit of walking is that it burns calories, which can help support weight loss when combined with a healthy diet that puts you in a daily calorie deficit. But exactly how much walking for weight loss is necessary?

The key to walking for weight loss starts with understanding how much walking you should do to lose weight based on your body weight, walking speed, and the number of calories you are eating per day.

In this beginner’s guide to how much walking for weight loss, we will discuss the benefits of walking, the number of calories you burn in a walking workout, and tips for establishing a walking routine to burn belly fat and reach your goal weight.

A person showing weight loss by holding open the waistline of a pair of pants too big for them.

Can I Lose Weight Walking?

Consistently getting enough aerobic exercise is important for maintaining overall health and reducing the risk of diseases like hypertension, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Walking workouts at a moderate intensity or brisk pace can help you reach the physical activity guidelines for Americans set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).2Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans | health.gov. (n.d.). Health.gov. https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines

‌These are to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

Depending on your fitness level, the incline of your walking workouts, and your walking speed, a daily walking routine will count towards your weekly minutes for either moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity exercise.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine,3Scheid, J. L., & O’Donnell, E. (2019). REVISITING HEART RATE TARGET ZONES THROUGH THE LENS OF WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY. ACSMʼs Health & Fitness Journal23(3), 21–26. https://doi.org/10.1249/fit.0000000000000477 the moderate-intensity cardio zone falls between 64-76% of your maximum heart rate range, while vigorous cardiovascular exercise would be at an effort level at or above 77% of your maximum heart rate.

Although not entirely accurate, a simple formula to determine your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.

For example, if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate would be: 220 – 40 = 180 bpm.

If your walking workouts increase your heart rate into the moderate-intensity physical activity zone, doing a 30-minute walk five days per week will help you reach the guidelines for physical activity, whereas you will only need to walk 25 minutes three times per week if you push up into the vigorous activity zone.

A person holding a sign that says weight loss.

How Much Walking For Weight Loss?

In order to lose weight by walking, you need to be in an overall caloric deficit.

This means that the number of calories you are eating per day is less than the number of calories you are burning per day.

Keep in mind that your walking sessions will burn calories, but there are actually other factors that contribute to your daily calorie burn.

Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the number of calories you burn from any deliberate exercise you do, such as in your walking plan, the physical activity you do outside of your training plan above resting levels, the calories you burn digesting and metabolizing food, and to sustain all of the physiological processes for life.

This last category is known as your basal metabolic rate, or BMR.

Your BMR is the number of calories your body must burn at a bare minimum for basic (basal) functions like breathing, maintaining a heartbeat to circulate blood to your tissues, and processing nutrients.

Two people power walking.

The American Council on Exercise4Fitness & Healthy Lifestyle Blog | ACE. (n.d.). Www.acefitness.org. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/ reports that your BMR represents about 60-75% of the total calories you burn in a day, though it depends somewhat on how active you are both in terms of planned exercise as well as physical activity accumulated as you go about your day.

You can estimate your BMR and your total daily caloric expenditure with online calculators

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,5Healthy Weight Loss. (2023, June 15). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html#:~:text=Healthy%20weight%20isn a healthy amount of fat to lose in a week is 1-2 pounds.

Losing body fat requires generating a caloric deficit; the rate of fat loss is 3500 calories for 1 pound of fat, meaning that if you want to lose the recommended 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week, you need to create a daily caloric deficit of 500 to 1000 calories.

This can be achieved through exercise, such as walking workouts, as well as through reducing your caloric intake.

The number of calories you burn walking depends on the following factors:

  • Your body weight
  • Your walking pace or walking speed
  • The incline
  • The duration of your walking workouts

People with a higher body weight will burn more calories walking at the same walking speed and incline as someone with a lower body weight.

The faster your walking pace, the more calories you will burn per minute.

So, how much should I walk to lose weight?

Below, we’ve created a table that shows the number of calories burned walking 60 minutes at different speeds and inclines by body weight. 

The calories burned walking by weight and pace are based on the METs (metabolic equivalents) taken from the Compendium of Physical Activities.62011 Compendium of Physical Activities. (n.d.). https://download.lww.com/wolterskluwer_vitalstream_com/PermaLink/MSS/A/MSS_43_8_2011_06_13_AINSWORTH_202093_SDC1.pdf

Two people smiling and walking.

 Weight (lbs)
Weight (kg)Calories Burned Walking 60 Minutes at 2.8-3.2 mph Calories Burned Walking 60 Minutes at 3.5 mph Calories Burned Walking 60 Minutes at 4.0 mphCalories Burned Walking 60 Minutes at 4.5 mphCalories Burned Walking 60 Minutes at 2.9–3.5 mph at 1-5% GradeCalories Burned Walking 60 Minutes at 2.9–3.5 mph at 6-15% Grade
9040.9150185215301228344
10045.5167205239334253382
11050184226263368278420
12054.5200246286401303458
13059.1217267310434329496
14063.6234287334467354534
15068.2251308358501380573
16072.7267328382534405611
17077.3284349406568430649
18081.8301369429601455687
19086.4318390454635481726
20090.9334410477668506764
21095.5351431501702531802
220100368452525735557840
230104.5384472549768582878
240109.1401493573802607916
250113.6417513596835632954
260118.2434534621869658993
270122.74515546449026831031
280127.34685756689367081069
290131.84845956929697331107
300136.450161671610037591146
310140.951863674010367841184
320145.553565776410698101222
33015055167778811038351260
340154.556869881111368601298
350159.158571883511698851336

Walking 30 minutes a day would burn half the number of calories shown in the table above.

A person walking for weight loss.

What Are the Best Walking for Weight Loss Tips?

Here are some tips for establishing a walking routine for weight loss:

#1: Set a Consistent Schedule

One of the challenges with establishing a physical activity routine is finding time to work out.

Setting a morning walking routine habit is a great way to build in your physical activity needs so that you can be consistent with your exercise plan.

Walking first thing in the morning not only helps reduce the chance of other obligations derailing your plans to do your daily walk, but it also immediately starts your day off with a “win.”

Even if the morning doesn’t work for you, find another time of day that you can consistently carve out as you are “walking routine time.“ 

This might be walking after every meal or walking after dinner. Sticking with an exercise schedule will help you build a habit.

People walking for weight loss.

#2: Build Up Gradually 

We often think of walking workouts as relatively low-intensity physical activity, but if you have been sedentary or you jump into brisk walking, you may experience soreness in the muscles used by walking.

Pay attention to your body and your energy levels, muscle soreness, and whether or not you feel up to exercising. 

Particularly if you are just starting a daily walking routine, work your way up to meeting the physical activity guidelines; you don’t have to jump in right away with walking 30 minutes five days a week.

I generally recommend starting with walking for 10 minutes after a meal, particularly if you are obese and have a lot of extra body fat to lose.

Take one or two rest days per week, particularly if you have joint pain.

Gradually increase the length of your walks until you are doing a 20-minute walk every day. Then, build up to a 30-minute walk every day.

Over time, you can walk faster and longer as your fitness level improves and you lose body fat.

#3: Start With Water Walking

Although walking is a low-impact form of exercise compared with running, people with obesity, arthritis, or joint pain may still have pain with regular walking.

You can start with water walking or water aerobics.

Water provides buoyancy, so walking in the pool will be much more gentle on your joints and bones and reduce the risk of injury. 

You will still burn calories with aqua walking workouts, but the water will help you feel more comfortable moving your body by offsetting some of your body weight.

People walking for weight loss.

#4: Do a Warm Up and Cool Down

Especially if you are going to do a brisk walk, it is important to do a warm-up

This will increase your heart rate and the blood flow to your muscles, helping increase your range of motion and prepare your body for more vigorous physical activity.

A cool down will help gently guide your heart rate and breathing rate back down to resting levels and will help flush out any metabolic waste products from your muscles so that you are less sore the next day.

#5: Wear a Fitness Watch 

A fitness watch and heart rate monitor can help you keep track of the number of steps you are taking and the relative intensity of your walking workouts.

Keep in mind the heart rate range for moderate-intensity aerobic exercise versus high-intensity exercise.

Although not necessarily accurate, some of the best fitness trackers can also provide an estimate for your calorie burn.

People speed walking for weight loss.

#6: Do HIIT Walking Workouts

As your fitness level improves, incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your walks is a great way to boost your metabolic rate, increase your calorie burn, and burn more belly fat with walking.7Hong, H.-R., Jeong, J.-O., Kong, J.-Y., Lee, S.-H., Yang, S.-H., Ha, C.-D., & Kang, H.-S. (2014). Effect of walking exercise on abdominal fat, insulin resistance and serum cytokines in obese women. Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry18(3), 277–285. https://doi.org/10.5717/jenb.2014.18.3.277

You can throw in bursts of fast walking or walk up steep hills to increase your heart rate and work your glutes and hamstrings more effectively.

#7: Try a Weighted Vest

Wearing a weighted vest is another way to increase your metabolic rate with walking workouts.

The added weight will help you burn more calories walking while still being a low-impact workout.8Swain, D. P., Kelleran, K. J., Graves, M. S., & Morrison, S. (2016). Impact Forces of Walking and Running at the Same Intensity. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research30(4), 1042–1049. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000001185

#8: Work On Your Diet

No matter what form of exercise you are doing, in order to lose weight through physical activity,9Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, April 26). Physical activity for a healthy weight . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html you need to be in a calorie deficit.

Consider working with a registered dietitian, sports nutritionist, or healthcare professional to help you find a diet plan that will support weight loss or healthy weight management with your activity level.

As you build up your walking fitness, your goals will get more and more ambitious. If you are looking for a big goal for down the road, think about walking a marathon! Check out this next guide to get inspired:

Walking A Marathon: How Long It Takes + Our Essential Training Tips

References

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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