If you want to lose weight and get fit, you might think you need to spend endless hours in the gym running on the treadmill, doing repetitive squats, and counting calories. Those things certainly can help, but there are also many other options to fit your lifestyle.
In fact, one of the best options to lose weight and get fit is something most people do everyday for free—walking! Believe it or not, walking is one of the best exercises out there and can help you shed lots of weight, especially if you pair it up with changes to your diet.
You might be skeptical. After all, how many calories do you burn simply by walking? And what affects how many calories you burn? Stay tuned—we’ll show you how you can use walking as a great weight-loss tool to get in shape in this article.
- Why Walking is Such a Great Exercise
- How many calories do you burn by walking?
- How much do you need to walk to lose a pound of fat?
- Ways to Burn More Calories by Walking
- How to Track Your Daily Walking
- How to Get More Walking Into Your Day
Why Walking is Such a Great Exercise
One of the biggest reasons why walking is a good exercise is because it can be done almost anywhere, and for free! You don’t need a fancy gym membership or any equipment to walk. Simply get up and go wherever your legs take you.
Walking is also a low-impact activity. True, running will burn more calories in the same amount of time. But running can be harder on your joints, especially if you’re just starting out on an exercise program and are at a heavier weight.
Walking, though? Almost anyone can do it without any ill effects on your joints and muscles, which makes it a great choice for people who are overweight, elderly, or recovering from tougher workouts or injuries.
Walking has many health benefits besides just burning calories in getting in shape. Studies have shown that people who go for walks get a creativity boost (according to the American Psychological Association), and that walking can improve your memory. You can even meditate while walking.
And finally, walking really can burn a lot of calories, believe it or not.
How many calories do you burn by walking?
There are a lot of things that can affect how many calories you burn by walking, which we’ll discuss later. Two of the biggest factors that affect how many calories you can burn, however, are how much you weigh and how much you walk.
Some people like to measure their walking based on how far they walk (distance), or by how long they walk for (time). Here are roughly how many calories you can expect burn based off of whichever walking measurement method you prefer.
For these calculations, we’ll assume that you’re walking at a pace of 3.0 miles per hour, which is the average walking speed.
|Calories burned by walking based on weight and distance|
|Weight||Mile 1||Mile 2||Mile 3||Mile 4||Mile 5|
|Calories burned by walking based on weight and time|
|Weight||15 minutes||30 minutes||45 minutes||1 hour|
How much do you need to walk to lose a pound of fat?
According to the Mayo Clinic, you’d need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but you can definitely get there through walking alone.
Here’s how long and how far you’d need to walk in order to lose a pound of fat. Again, we’re assuming a relatively normal walking pace of 3.0 miles per hour.
|How far you’d need to walk to lose one pound of body fat|
|100 lbs||62.5 miles|
|125 lbs||50.7 miles|
|150 lbs||42.2 miles|
|175 lbs||36.1 miles|
|200 lbs||31.5 miles|
|225 lbs||28.0 miles|
|250 lbs||25.2 miles|
|275 lbs||22.9 miles|
|300 lbs||21.0 miles|
|How long you’d need to walk for to lose one pound of body fat|
|100 lbs||21.0 hours|
|125 lbs||16.8 hours|
|150 lbs||14.0 hours|
|175 lbs||12.0 hours|
|200 lbs||10.5 hours|
|225 lbs||9.3 hours|
|250 lbs||8.4 hours|
|275 lbs||7.6 hours|
|300 lbs||7.0 hours|
Ways to Burn More Calories by Walking
If the charts above shocked by by how much you need to walk to lose a pound of fat, don’t despair! There are a lot of things you can do to increase the amount of calories you burn by walking.
Here are a few ideas:
Try Power Walking
Those cute little retirees waltzing around the suburbs in jogging suits are onto something. By pumping your arms and walking at a rapid pace, you can double the amount of calories you burn compared to a slow walk.
It’s basically jogging, but while keeping both feet on the ground at the same time (the cutoff point between jogging/running and walking). This means it’s still easier on your joints than a normal jog or run.
Use Walking Poles
Bringing your arms into your exercise routine will boost your heart rate, just like power walking. Walking poles can be especially beneficial if you’re unsteady on your feet, or are walking through bumpy or icy terrain. Sometimes hikers will use just one walking stick, however, in order to make sure both sides of your body are properly exercised it’s a good idea to use two walking poles.
Wear Ankle Weights
Another good way to boost your heart rate (and therefore how many calories you burn) is to make your walking more challenging. One way you can easily do this is with ankle weights, which wrap around your ankles and are fastened with velcro straps.
It’s a good idea to start out with a smaller weight and a short distance, and work your way up as your leg muscles become stronger.
Walk Up Inclines
Walking up hills or boosting the incline on your treadmill are two great ways to increase the intensity of walking. Again, it’s a good idea to start with smaller hills and inclines and work your way up, or find a route where the hills are evenly spaced out to avoid taxing yourself too much before you’re ready.
How to Track Your Daily Walking
It’s common to think that you get enough walking in each day to meet your goal, but how do you really know if that’s true unless you find some way to track it?
Tracking your exercise habit is a lot like tracking your budget; it holds you accountable so that you know you’re on track to meet your goals.
Luckily, there are many ways to track your daily walking depending on your personal preferences.
Track Your Steps
Step trackers like Jawbone and Fitbit are all the rage nowadays, and for good reason. These wearable apps tell you how many steps you take each day based on the movements you make (they’re calibrated to work even if your hands aren’t swaying around caveman-style while you walk).
This can be a great way to motivate yourself to keep up with your daily walking goals.
If you don’t have a fancy fitness tracker, don’t worry. You can also download the Pacer app and keep your smartphone in your pocket. It’ll do the same thing.
Track Your Distance
You can also track the distance you spend walking. This can be a bit tricky unless you have a map or are using an app that records your distance. However, some apps that record your steps (like Pacer or Fitbit) will also calculate how far you walk each day.
Track the Time You Spend Walking
One of the easiest ways to track your walking is by recording how much time you spend walking. That way you don’t have to worry about figuring out how far you walked.
To track the amount of time you spend walking, you’ll need to set aside a set period of time each day just to walk. This is because it’s more difficult to add up all the little bits of time here and there each day you spend walking, such as in parking lots or to the break room at work, like you can if you track your walking through another method.
Then, just go for a walk! When you come back, write down in a journal how much time you spent walking. That’s it! For extra motivation, bookmark this page and use the charts above to record how many calories you burn with each walk.
How to Get More Walking Into Your Day
You don’t necessarily need to be a dreadlocked nomad on an Australian walkabout to lose weight from walking. Still, the more you walk, the more weight you’ll lose because you’ll be burning more calories.
Here are some good ideas that’ll help you incorporate more walking into your day.
Find Little Ways to Walk More
One way you can walk more each day is by parking at the end of parking lots, rather than the closest spot you can find. Bonus points: it’ll be easier to park here than in the crowded spots up front.
Another good idea is to space your walking throughout the day, rather than going on one giant walk-a-thon at the end of the day when you’re already tired. You can set reminders on your phone to get up and walk every so often.
Fitness trackers like Fitbit are also handy because you can set them to remind you to get up and walk at least 250 steps each hour during the day.
Find Ways to Make Walking Fun
Finding a walking buddy (or a dog) to hold you accountable and keep you company while walking is a good way to make walking fun. After all, if someone else is also relying on you to exercise with them, it’s harder to make excuses to not go walking.
Try searching out new and interesting places. Geocaching is a fun way to find hidden nooks and crannies in your own hometown, while also burning calories by walking. You can also mix up the distance that you walk, or the speed. Feeling spritely? Try going faster. A bit tired today? Take it easy.
Some people find that using apps like Walk For A Dog and Charity Miles while they walk help motivate them because they’re walking for donations to their favorite charity. Another fun app is Zombies, Run!, which tells stories about slow zombies chasing you in an post-apocalyptic world.
You can also listen to your favorite podcasts or music while walking, or even pop on your favorite TV show if you have a treadmill in your living room (some treadmills even fold up out of the way while you’re not using it).
Finding a way to make walking fun for you is the most successful way to sustain your new walking habit. After all, the most effective exercise that’ll burn the most amount of calories is the one you can actually stick with.