Can I Lose Weight Just By Walking?

Walking is an excellent form of exercise that can aid weight loss and provide other health benefits.

Still, compared with other forms of exercise, many people don’t view walking as effective or efficient for weight loss.

This article explains whether walking for an hour per day can help you lose weight.

The simplicity of walking makes it an appealing activity for many — particularly those looking to burn extra calories.

The number of calories you burn walking depends on numerous factors, especially your weight and walking speed.


 

This table estimates the number of calories burned per hour based on the following body weights and walking speeds:

For reference, an average walking pace is 3 mph (4.8 kph). The faster you walk and the more you weigh, the more calories you expend.

Other factors that influence the number of calories burned include terrain, outdoor/indoor temperature, and your age and sex (2Trusted Source).

Walking 1 hour each day can help you burn calories and, in turn, lose weight.

In
one study, 11 moderate-weight women lost an average of 17 pounds (7.7
kg), or 10% of their initial body weight, after 6 months of brisk daily
walking (3Trusted Source).

The
women progressively increased their walking duration over the 6 months
to reach a maximum of 1 hour per day but experienced little weight loss
until they walked at least 30 minutes daily.

This result indicates that the time spent walking may be correlated with weight loss.

Another
study noted that women with obesity who walked 3 days per week for
50–70 minutes lost about 6 pounds (2.7 kg) over 12 weeks, compared with
women who didn’t walk (4Trusted Source).

Combined with your diet

While walking itself can help you lose weight, it’s much more effective when combined with a calorie-restricted diet.

In
a 12-week study, people with obesity restricted calories by 500–800 per
day. One group walked 3 hours per week at 3.7 mph (6 kph), while the
other group didn’t walk (5Trusted Source).

While
both groups lost a significant amount of body weight, those in the
walking group lost about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) more, on average, than those
who didn’t walk.

Interestingly, weight loss may also be influenced by whether you walk continuously or in shorter bursts.

In a 24-week study, women with excess weight or obesity
restricted their calorie intake by 500–600 per day and either walked
briskly for 50 minutes per day or did two 25-minute bouts per day (6Trusted Source).

Those
who did the two shorter workouts per day lost 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg) more
than those who did 50 minutes of continuous walking.

Nonetheless, other studies show no significant differences in weight loss between continuous and intermittent walking (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Thus, you should choose whichever routine works best for you.

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To lose weight, you must consistently eat fewer calories than you expend on a daily basis.

You
can either increase the number of calories you burn via exercise like
walking, decrease the number of calories you consume, or both.

It’s often stated that 1 pound (0.45 kg) of body weight
is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Based on this theory, you would need
to reduce your calorie intake by 500 for 7 days to lose 1 pound (0.45
kg) per week.

Although this rule fails to account for people with
lower body fat percentages, as well as the decrease in calorie
expenditure that comes with weight loss, a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is appropriate for most people who want to lose weight (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

Part
of this deficit can be achieved by walking 1 hour per day, while you
can also gradually decrease the number of calories you consume.

Depending
on your calorie intake, a deficit of 500 calories per day may lead to
0.5–2 pounds (0.2–0.9 kg) of weight loss per week (13Trusted Source).

Beyond weight loss, walking
has several other benefits, especially when you walk multiple times per
week for 30–60 minutes. These health effects include (5Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source):

  • decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • increased HDL (good) cholesterol
  • improved mood
  • decreased blood pressure

These benefits translate to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and overall mortality, as well as improved quality of life (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

Moreover,
an extra 30 minutes of walking, on top of your normal daily activity,
is associated with less weight gain over time. This is noteworthy
because adults tend to gain 1.1–2.2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per year (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).

 

Walking is an excellent form of exercise that most people can engage in.

If you want to walk daily for exercise, it’s important to start slowly and progressively increase your duration and intensity.

If you’re just starting, walking fast for a long time can leave you fatigued, sore, and unmotivated.

Instead, start by walking 10–15 minutes per day at a comfortable pace.

From
there, you can increase your walking time by 10–15 minutes each week
until you reach 1 hour per day, or a different length of time that feels
good for you.

After this, if desired, you can work on increasing your walking speed.

 

As with any exercise
regimen, it’s good to shake things up every so often to keep your
routine engaging and challenging. Here are a few tips.

  • Modify your route. Walk on bike trails, in a different neighborhood, or at your local mall, or take the route you usually walk in reverse.
  • Split up your walking time. If your goal is to walk 60 minutes per day, split this time into two 30-minute walks.
  • Change your walking times. If you regularly walk in the morning, try evenings, or vice versa.
  • Walk with a partner. Walking with a partner provides accountability and can keep you motivated.
  • Listen to an audiobook or podcast. Keep yourself entertained by listening to an audiobook or your favorite podcast.
  • Reward yourself. Reward yourself every once in a while with new walking shoes or attire.

As
you lose weight, it’s also important to increase your walking
intensity. That’s because your body needs fewer calories to perform the
same physical activities at a lighter body weight than a heavier one (12Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).

For
example, a 150-pound (68-kg) person burns nearly 50 fewer calories per
hour walking 3 mph (4.8 kph) than a 180-pound (82-kg) person at the same
speed.

While this may seem insignificant, 50 fewer calories per day amounts to 350 fewer calories burned per week.

By increasing your walking intensity, you can burn more calories. Try upping your pace or walking steep hills, uneven terrain, or soft surfaces like sand or grass (26Trusted Source).

Although
one of the benefits of walking for exercise is that it doesn’t require
any special equipment, walking with handheld weights or a weighted vest
can also boost the intensity (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).

 

Walking is a great form of exercise, and walking for 1 hour each day may aid weight loss and provide other health benefits.

It’s effective because it helps you increase the number of calories you burn.

At the same time, you’ll need to pay attention to your total calorie intake.

Remember
to intensify your walking routine to progress toward your weight loss
goal. Shaking up your regimen can also help you stay motivated.

 

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