Walking For Weight Loss: How Much Should You Walk To Lose Weight?


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Walking can be a great form of exercise because it’s beginner-friendly, low-cost, and provides numerous physical and mental health benefits, such as strengthening the heart and lungs, improving aerobic capacity, strengthening the legs, decreasing blood pressure, and improving mood.

Many people also turn to exercise for weight loss but often assume that walking isn’t a particularly good form of exercise to lose weight because it tends to be a low-intensity workout.

But is walking good for weight loss? Can you lose weight walking?

Depending on how you structure your walking workouts and how walking fits in with the overall context of your diet and fitness routine, walking can be a great way to lose weight. 

In this article, we will discuss walking for weight loss, answering common questions like “How much should I walk to lose weight?” and when to walk for weight loss, along with walking for weight loss tips.

We will cover: 

  • Is Walking Good for Weight Loss?
  • How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking?
  • 5 Walking for Weight Loss Tips

Let’s dive in! 

A person at a gym walking for weight loss.

Is Walking Good for Weight Loss?

Walking can definitely be a great way to lose weight.

Any form of physical activity increases energy expenditure, or the number of calories you burn, over resting conditions. The more vigorous or intense the type of movement you perform, the more calories you will burn per minute. 

This means that high-intensity exercise, like running or dynamic plyometric exercises like burpees, is a more efficient way to burn calories than low-intensity exercise, like yoga or walking, on a minute-to-minute basis. 

However, you can also increase the number of calories you burn exercising by increasing the duration of the workout, and this is where walking for weight loss really shines. 

Because walking is a fairly low-intensity exercise, you can theoretically do much longer walking workouts than you can with vigorous exercise like a total-body HIIT workout or hard run. 

Three friends smiling and walking.

This means that while you will be burning fewer calories per minute walking rather than running, you can potentially burn just as many, if not more, calories walking versus running if you walk long enough.

Additionally, it’s important to note that weight loss isn’t all about the calories you burn during your workouts. 

Diet plays a significant role in your weight loss success. Many people find that walking can be a catalyst for healthy lifestyle changes.

Starting a walking for weight loss plan can help kickstart the motivation to eat healthier and make more mindful decisions about how much you are eating and what foods you choose to put in your body.

Although this certainly isn’t the case for everyone following a walking for weight loss plan, it is an often overlooked fringe benefit that many new walkers enjoy.

A family walking.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking?

The number of calories you burn walking depends on several factors, including your body weight and composition, your walking speed, the distance or duration of your walks, and whether or not you are walking up an incline.

The best way to estimate the number of calories you burn walking is to wear a heart rate monitor or fitness watch that can not only measure your heart rate but also the pace and distance that you walk. 

Knowing these metrics will give you a better assessment of the intensity of your walking workouts as well as how far you have walked, both of which are key factors that determine how many calories you burn walking.

If you don’t have access to this technology, you can estimate the number of calories burned walking by using the METs for walking at different speeds and inclines.

METs, which stands for metabolic equivalents, refers to the relative energy expenditure of an exercise over resting conditions.

A group of people walking.

The Compendium of Physical Activities reports that walking at a leisurely pace of 2.8-3.2 mph on a level surface is equivalent to 3.5 METs. Walking at a pace of 3.5 mph on a level surface is 4.3 METs, while walking at a brisk pace of 4.0 mph on a level surface is rated at 5 METs, and finally, walking at a very brisk pace of 4.5 mph is 7 METs.

Walking 2.9 – 3.5 mph uphill at a 1 to 5% grade is roughly 5.3 METs, and maintaining that pace while climbing a 6 to 15% grade bumps the metabolic demand up to 8 METs.

Using these METs values, you can calculate the number of calories burned walking a mile at various speeds and weights using the equation to determine energy expenditure:

Calories Burned Per Minute = METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 

Then, you multiply the number of calories you burn per minute walking by the number of minutes you walk.

Below, we’ve created a table that uses these METs values for different walking speeds and conditions to calculate the approximate number of calories burned walking 60 minutes for various body weights. 

 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
A person swinging their arms while walking.

5 Walking for Weight Loss Tips

Ready to get walking? Here are some tips for walking for weight loss:

#1: Swing Your Arms

Power walking, or vigorously swinging your arms, will help you increase the intensity of your walking workout so that you can burn more calories. 

You will recruit additional muscles in your shoulders, arms, chest, core, and back, helping turn walking into a total-body exercise.

Many people also find that by powerfully pumping their arms when they walk, they naturally walk at a faster pace because the arms drive the legs forward.

#2: Increase the Intensity of Your Walks

Walking faster and walking up an incline will increase the number of calories you burn while walking, helping you lose more weight.

Two people walking with hand weights.

#3: Build Up Your Distance and Frequency

The more you walk, the more calories you will burn. Beginners might start with a 30-day walking challenge and then gradually progress to walking 30 minutes a day and then go on to walk even more.

If you are trying to figure out when to walk for weight loss and how to fit it into your schedule, you can consider spreading out your walks throughout the day and walking several times per day instead of just one longer walk.

Studies suggest that it’s your accumulated daily step count that reduces your risk of diseases. Take short walks after every meal, or take a longer morning and evening walk every day.

#4: Wear a Weighted Vest

Wearing a weighted vest is a great way to burn more calories while walking. A weighted vest centralizes the added resistance over your center of mass, reducing the risk of injury compared to using ankle weights or even hand weights. 

By wearing a weighted vest, your effective body weight is higher, and your heart and muscles have to work harder to move your body, increasing the energy expenditure of the activity.

We love the OMORPHO Smart Weighted Vest.

A person walking with a baby carriage.

#5: Wear a Fitness Watch

As mentioned, a fitness watch with a heart rate monitor can keep you clued into how much you are walking and how many calories you burn while walking. A pedometer can also be a motivating way to get more steps.

Walking can be a great way to lose weight and improve your overall health.

Remember, if you really want to optimize your fat loss results, don’t forget about the importance of your diet. You’ll also feel better on your walks if you’re fueling your body well!

If you are looking for nutritional advice and tips to go along with your new walking habit, check out our guide to some of our most popular healthy diets.

A variety of healthy foods.
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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