If you’re looking to shed some pounds, walking is a great way to go. But that makes ‘How much walking for weight loss’ the question of the hour.
Maybe you’ve already started walking a bit every day or a few times a week (good for you!). But you haven’t noticed the pounds dropping and you’re wondering if this is worth the effort.
Maybe you’re looking at different weight loss options and wondering if you can make the commitment to start walking.
Either way, consider these benefits of walking for weight loss.
- It’s more beneficial than just dieting – when you only diet, you make the process much harder on yourself.
Not only does it take longer to lose weight without burning calories, but you also lose muscle…which is not sustainable in the long run.
- Walking regularly improves your mood and mental health – one of the best ways to induce serotonin is by fresh air, sunlight, and physical movement. Walking and running are two of the best natural antidepressants out there.
- It helps you keep the weight off long term – no one wants to lose weight and then gain it back just a couple of months later when they ‘fall off the wagon’ from their diet.
Establishing a walking routine creates lifelong change and helps you keep the weight off for good.
Basics of Weight Loss: How to Lose Weight by Walking
Before you create that routine, it’s best to have a solid understanding of what it takes to lose weight in the first place.
The reason fad diets and pills are never successful is because they are not sustainable and they’re not healthy.
Building a healthy foundation for weight loss takes more time, but benefits your body while providing long-lasting weight loss.
Here are the essential components you need to lose weight:
It’s simple math.
You need to burn more calories than you consume in a day to lose weight.
While you probably don’t want to count your calories every day for the rest of your life, keeping track for a few weeks can give you a good idea of what kinds of meals contain rough amounts of calories, and help you adjust your diet from there.
A calorie deficit is what you want to aim for: burn more calories than you consume, and you’ll be on the path to lose weight.
- Related: Does Running Burn Fat?
Most people think consuming less calories means starving themselves by simply eating less.
In fact, you don’t have to go hungry or deprive yourself. If you think about your food as fuel, you’ll eat the right foods to help your body do its job better.
Combine it with walking, and you will lose weight.
By simply saying, “I want to lose weight,” it will be almost impossible to achieve.
Set a specific amount of weight you’d like to lose, like 6 pounds in 6 months, then break that amount down in one-month increments.
You’ll be amazed at the success of your mission!
How Much Walking for Weight Loss: Walking One Hour a Day
How much walking a day to lose weight?
Once you have your monthly goals, you’ll need to figure out what that will look like on a daily basis to achieve your goal.
While the answer varies based on each person’s height, weight, gender, and age, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of walking a day for general fitness. So to lose weight, you’ll need to walk more.
The rough answer: Exercise at moderate intensity for 200-300 minutes per week.
What does that look like?
Walk 1 hour per day for 4-5 days a week, with a total of about 4.5 hours each week.
However, if you want to keep losing weight over time, you’ll need to increase that amount as you progress.
Gradually Increase Your Exercise Time
For example, you may find it challenging to reach this amount right now. But, as the weeks go by, your body will acclimate and you’ll find it easy.
At that point, you’ll need to do one (or both) of two things: Either walk for longer amounts of time or increase the intensity of your exercise.
If you choose to increase the amount of time, ASCM recommends that overweight or obese people (with a BMI of more than or equal to 30 kg/m2) progressively increase this level by 150 minutes per week.
Did you know that it’s actually common to gain weight a little when you start off a new exercise regime? It’s often due to swelling and water retention as you start a new activity – luckily walking avoids many of these pitfalls.
200-300 minutes per week is a good rule of thumb if you’re ready to jump in and get started without too much planning.
But if you want to tailor your plan with the highest accuracy, you’ll need to factor in your specific body type to break down the numbers accordingly.
Since you’ll need to burn more calories than you consume, you’ll need an idea of how many calories you burn in an hour.
Keep in mind that that number will not only depend on your body type, but will also depend on they type of walking you’re doing – high intensity vs. low intensity, hills vs. flat ground, high altitude vs. low altitude, etc.
But to keep things simple, take a look at this chart to get a general idea.
Calories Burned In One Hour of Walking
|Weight||Walking at 3.5 mph||Walking at 4 mph||Walking at 4.5 mph|
Walking at 3.5 miles per hour would be roughly 17-18 minutes per mile.
Walking at 4 miles per hour would be about 15 minutes per mile.
Walking at 4.5 miles per hour would take about 13 minutes per mile.
Any faster than 13 minutes per mile would most likely involve some light jogging, unless you are power walking.
Taking this into consideration, you can assume that a 155-pound person walking 4.5 miles per hour will complete 4 miles in one hour of walking – burning around 334 calories.
Harvard Health calculates the correct calories needed for a woman who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 155 pounds. By multiplying her weight times 15 (the recommended process), she will need to consume 2,325 calories and walk the ASCM recommended amount of 30 minutes per day to maintain her current weight.
If she wanted to lose 1-2 pounds per week, she would need to lower her calorie intake by 500-1,000 calories a day, coming to a total consumption of 1,325-1,825. However, if she walks for 1 hour a day at 4.5 mph, that calorie intake can raise by 650.
To summarize: The average woman who weighs 155 pounds and is 5’4” should walk 4 miles a day (1 hour of brisk walking) and should consume about 1,900 calories (or less) per day.
How to Measure and Optimize Your Walking Speed
The easiest way to measure your walking speed: You should aim to walk at a brisk pace that allows you to talk with another person without losing your breath, but not sing.
More accurate ways to measure your walking speed: Use a heart rate monitor. These are easy to come by, since they come with even the most basic smartwatches.
Even if you don’t have a GPS watch, there are plenty of apps you can use that will track this for you.
Strava and Map My Run are popular and reliable. Either one will also tell you how many calories you’ve burned based on all the important factors: height, weight, age, and gender.
Using one of these monitors will help you track your progress and analyze your progress accurately.
How to Cut Calories Without Starving Yourself
There are plenty of ways to cut back your calories without feeling hungry or dissatisfied.
Here are some ways to replace unhealthy, fattening foods with nutritious, less fattening alternatives.
- Replace white, processed carbohydrates (like white bread, rice, and pasta) with complex carbohydrates (like brown rice and pasta, beans, lentils, and oats).
- Substitute sugary, processed snacks for fruit.
- Include 1-2 cups of vegetables with lunch and dinner (they’ll fill you up and give you vitamins).
- Replace alcohol or soda with iced tea sweetened with honey or sparkling water with lemon.
What If You Don’t Have Time for Walking an Hour a Day?
Well . . .you always have time for things you make time for.
But that’s often easier said than done. And without a doable routine in place, you’ll quickly give up and all efforts will be for nothing.
Many of us have families, work, social lives, and many other things begging for our time throughout the day.
So here are some great ways to make sure you get the proper amount of walking to lose weight.
- Mix in a bit of jogging with your walk. The faster you move, the more calories you burn, which shaves time off your required amount. You can start with one minute or even 30 seconds of jogging, and work your way up from there.
- Walk twice a day for 30 minutes each. Breaking the exercise into chunks can allow you to walk during your launch break, then have an after-dinner walk with your partner or a friend.
- Walk up hills: Increasing your resistance increases your calorie burning, which also shaves off some precious time.
- Train for a 5K: When you’re wondering, ‘How much walking for weight loss,’ this is one of the best ways to stay on track with an exercise routine.
When you sign up for a race, you have extra motivation to stick with the plan until you reach the goal.
We’re particularly proud of our Couch to 5k plans ; they have you mixing jogging and walking in short bursts from the start!
All our free training plans include customizable schedules to help you fit the training with your own level of fitness and your own schedule. Download a 5K training plan and start today!
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