How much do I need to walk to lose weight?

S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
Ask Louise

04 August 2021

How much do I need to walk to lose weight?

Just 30-minutes of walking at a time, when completed several times throughout the week, can contribute to weight loss. To lose weight through walking, the pace, distance and elevation gain should be kept high and the activity should be completed long-term. It should also be combined with healthy eating to improve health and fitness further.

Can you get fit by walking?

According to a recent survey conducted for the BBC and University College London, 40% of participants stated that they expected to walk more after lockdown. (1) Some of the most popular reasons for doing so include better mental health, the fact that the activity provides an opportunity to meet with friends and family, plus there's plenty of scope to explore new areas through walking. (2) It can also be a really effective way to improve physical health.

Walking helps to burn calories like any other form of physical activity and it is this that contributes to weight loss. However, that being said, walking must be kept up on a regular basis in order to see any significant changes to weight.

In one study, a group of women with a high body mass index (BMI) participated in a walking exercise 3 times a week for 50-70 minutes each time. They maintained this exercise over a period of twelve weeks.

Compared to a control group that completed no walking-focused exercises over this time span, the walking group experienced both a reduction in belly fat and overall body fat. This suggests walking is an effective activity for both weight loss and fitness. (3)

Is walking enough to lose weight?

Walking can help you lose weight; however, research shows that results are more likely to be seen when the activity is combined with healthy eating. (4) For example, eating more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, rather than lots of high sugar and high-fat foods, will contribute to a lower calorie intake. When this is combined with regular walking, weight loss is more likely to be seen.

Also, in order to see weight loss through walking, it is necessary to increase the intensity of the activity. So, make sure to keep walking at a fast pace, try to include some hills on your route and gradually increase the distance of the walk as your fitness improves.

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How much do I need to walk to lose weight?

Guidelines state that we should aim for 150 minutes of exercise a week. This can include some walking, though you may want to incorporate a variety of activities to see the most improvement to your health and fitness.

Consider strength activities like Yoga and aerobic workouts at the gym alongside regular walking. Another tip is to intersperse your walks with other activities like star jumps and jogging on the spot. For example, you could walk for 10 minutes, do 30 star jumps, then continue for another 10-minute walk.

The data also indicates that just 30-minutes of walking at a time, when completed several times throughout the week, could be enough to contribute to weight loss. That is, however, as long as healthy eating practises are put in place as well. (5)

Does walking 10,000 steps help lose weight?

Many smartwatches and pedometers routinely encourage us to achieve 10,000 steps on a daily basis. However, research shows this may not actually be the optimum when trying to lose weight.

In one study, participants completed between 10,000 to 15,000 steps daily over a 24-week period. Despite their different goals, the groups did not experience any significant variations in their weight. (6)

So, instead of focusing on step count and how long you are out for, consider other factors like distance, elevation and speed. These are all things that you can increase gradually as your fitness improves.

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