Looking for an easy workout that doesn’t require equipment, a gym, or even an app? Take a walk!
We often assume you need to be doing super-intense workouts to shed a few pounds, but that’s just not suitable for everyone. The good news is that you can absolutely use walking for weight loss.
Ultimately, weight loss boils down to calories in and calories out. This means you need to burn more calories than you consume (a caloric deficit), explains Grayson Wickham, PT, DPT, CSCS, founder of Movement Vault. He adds that any type of movement that you perform throughout the day will help you increase your daily overall calorie expenditure. And, yes, higher-intensity activities like jogging or sprinting will burn *more* calories, but walking is still a super helpful practice, even though it is a low-intensity movement.
"Walking is a great exercise because almost anyone can do it, at any time, without any equipment," says Wickham. "It is also low intensity, so it is easy on your joints. Long walks can also be used as thinking or meditation time."
Here's how you can get the most out of a simple stroll around the block or neighborhood.
Meet the experts:Grayson Wickham, PT, DPT, CSCS
, is the founder of Movement Vault.Susane Pata, CPT, CGFI
, is a content strategist for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She is also a master trainer for various fitness brands such as TRX, Life Fitness, ICG, and Trigger Point.Alissa Palladino, MS
, is a registered dietician and certified personal trainer.
How much walking do you have to do to lose weight?
This depends on a few factors, including where you're starting out fitness-wise. "Less conditioned individuals who may weigh more will expend more calories per minute for that same walk," says Susane Pata, CPT, CGFI, a certified personal trainer and content strategist for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
Over time, walking can make changes to the body’s resting metabolic rate, a.k.a. the total number of calories burned from breathing, circulating blood, keeping your organs running, and maintaining basic neurological functions when your body is chilling, because it can help increase lean body mass. That will, in turn, ramp up energy expenditure, she explains.
Track your steps for a few days using a smartwatch or phone to see what your baseline is—then gradually adding a few minutes or steps each week, Palladino recommends.
To figure out how much walking you need to do to lose weight, you also need to know what your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is and how many calories you need to be burning to be in that calorie deficit. You can use an online calculator like this one from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
And if you’re curious about that common metric of 10,000 steps a day to help you lose weight, it is indeed the recommendation of many reputable public health organizations, like the CDC. That being said, it is somewhat arbitrary and may not always be appropriate, says Alissa Palladino, MS, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. “Walking goals need to be tailored to an individual’s current fitness level, health status, and lifestyle,” she says. “You may want to set a lower or a higher goal for yourself depending on a variety of factors.”
One 30-minute walk a day would add up to roughly 100 to 200 calories.
To give you an idea, 30 minutes of walking a day (which could be broken up into two 15-minute or three 10-minute walks) should add up to roughly 100 to 200 calories burned. (You might cover one to two miles in that time frame as well.) "These numbers can add up in the long run and result in weight loss for someone who is overweight and was previously sedentary," Pata explains. "Doing 30 minutes worth of walking for seven days can create a weekly caloric expenditure of 700 to 1,400 calories."
How much weight can someone lose in a month by walking?
Based on those numbers, an individual can burn up to 5,600 calories a month from walking alone, which is roughly 1.6 pounds, according to Pata. However, that number is dependent on a person’s individual calculations that take weight, level of conditioning, and training capacity into consideration.
You should also know that you will not see results right away. Rather, establishing a consistent weekly habit of walking will definitely add up in weight loss over time. If you are looking to lose more weight in a shorter amount of time, Wickham suggests that you should not rely solely on walking as your only form of exercise, as it is a low-intensity exercise and burns fewer calories per given amount of time than a high-intensity workout.
"For example, if you only have 30 minutes to exercise and your goal is to burn the most calories during your 30 minutes, walking isn’t the best choice to accomplish this goal," he says. "You will burn far more calories if you increased the intensity of your exercise with things like jogging, lifting weights, sprinting, a HIIT workout, or some combination of these."
How To Add More Walking Into Your Day
Once you've determined your goals, try these ideas from Palladino for fitting more walking into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Get off the bus or subway early and walk a few extra blocks to your destination.
- Park farther away from the store entrance instead of looking for the closet parking spot.
- Shop on foot instead of ordering your groceries online and doing curbside pick-up.
- If you work from home, take phone calls while on a walk.
- Schedule personal calls with long distance friends and family members as “walk and talks.”
- For spending time with friends and family in-person, suggest meeting up for a walk instead of (or in addition to) coffee, drinks or a meal.
- If you have a sedentary desk job, consider investing in a treadmill desk or setting a timer every hour as a reminder to stand up, stretch out, and get in a few steps.
- Depending on your neighborhood, you may be able to walk to do errands, pick up coffee, or go out to eat. Maybe you even select a restaurant based on it being a walkable destination rather than one you have to drive to.
- Try walking for 10 minutes first thing in the morning, 10 minutes on your lunch break, and 10 minutes before or after dinner.
It may take a little planning and creativity, but there are plenty of easy ways to relatively effortlessly fit more steps into your day, and your body will thank you.
17 Tips To Maximize Your Walks For Weight Loss
Ready to lace up your sneakers and get going? Here are a variety of tricks and habits that will give your outdoor workout an extra boost.
1. Perform a short mobility routine before your walk.
"Stretching out and activating specific muscles before your walk will help you decrease your chance of pain and injury during and after your walk," says Wickham. "If you have pain during your walk, this is your body telling you that you really need to start dedicating time to your joint mobility. Everyone should be able to perform a basic life task such as walking without pain."
2. Wear a weighted vest or backpack during your walks.
Adding weight to your walks will increase the demand on your body and your intensity during your walks, says Wickham. "Typically, anything that makes an exercise more challenging will lead to an increase in calories burned," he adds.
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3. Use a smartwatch or phone app to track your steps.
"Data tracking can help motivate individuals via successful goal accomplishments and help make up for any deficits throughout the week," says Pata.
4. Add in short jogs or runs during your walk.
Jog or run for as little as 10 seconds and then walk for two minutes and repeat. "Adding in short jogs or runs during your walk will help you increase the intensity of your walking workout, which can help you accelerate your weight loss," Wickham says.
5. Create a fun playlist.
Just like listening to the right songs pumps you up on the treadmill, playing uplifting tunes while you're out and about can make the experience more enjoyable. To fully immerse yourself, Pata suggests creating a list of your favorite music that lasts the length of the walk.
6. Bring a water bottle on longer walks.
"Staying properly hydrated is key for optimal health," says Wickham. "The healthier and more hydrated you are, the better your weight loss journey will be." Not to mention, the H2O will keep your energy up and help you log more miles.
7. Use a food tracker.
If you're already taking stock of what you eat with a food diary app, make sure you jot down how many calories you're burning by walking. It helps keep you aware of your actions and how it measures up against your goals, says Pata. Bonus: It shows you that you can crush your goals and serves up some major motivation.
8. Stay consistent.
To reap the full benefits, you have to commit to walking at a regular schedule, whether that's once a day or a week. "Health is a lifestyle, not a quick fix," says Wickham. "Find ways that you can add in your walks that will help stay consistent. The more often you walk, the more weight loss you will have."
9. Purchase a good pair of shoes.
Pro tip from Pata: Get nice sneakers that you only use for walking. "This creates a 'get-in-the-zone' attitude when you put them on and an enjoyable walking experience." (BTW, if you need a little help, here are the 15 best walking shoes, according to a podiatrist.)
10. Plan out your walking route.
"You can use Google Maps to plan out your walking route so that you know exactly where you will be walking and the distance you will be walking," says Wickham. That means you know how many calories you will be ditching too.
11. Schedule your walks.
Penciling it in your calendar will make it that much more likely that you'll follow through with your walking goals. "You know what they say, schedule it or you won’t do it. Choosing one time every day to perform your walks will help you stay consistent," says Wickham. "You can also prioritize your walks and plan around them to ensure you get them in every day."
12. Have a rainy-day back-up plan.
Bummed you won't be able to get your walking done because of miserable weather? To make sure you still engage in some form of exercise, have a rainy-day back-up plan, like keeping a bag packed for the gym or go to the nearest mall and do some laps, says Pata. You’ll be less likely to forget working out altogether if you have a plan B in place.
13. Invite a friend or family member on your walks.
Asking someone to keep you company while you get some steps in is a great way to maintain relationships, and it will help keep you consistent with your walks, as the other person will also be planning to walk with you, says Wickham. Yep, a workout buddy is important even when your chosen physical activity is a less intense.
14. Plan catch-up calls with friends.
Another way to include a loved one on your outdoor adventure? Schedule some calls with people you've been meaning to catch up with for forever. Besides rekindling or maintaining relationships, they'll make time go by more quickly and the walks may begin to become enjoyable over time, says Pata.
15. Add in walking lunges on your walk.
"Performing a set of 10 walking lunges every so often can help you build stronger legs, and gain muscle mass," says Wickham. "Gaining lean muscle mass will increase your resting metabolic expenditure, which means you will be burning more calories at rest. This all leads to increased weight loss."
16. Weather-proof your walks.
Equip yourself with the right apparel for rain, cold, or hot weather, etc., says Pata. This will help you be prepared and less likely to miss a walk session. No excuses!
17. Walk backwards, if you are in a safe place to do so.
"Walking backwards will work different muscles than walking forwards," says Wickham. "Walking backwards works your quadricep muscles more than walking forward, which can help you maintain healthy and strong knees."
Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelancer writer specializing in health, weight loss, and fitness. She is currently based in Pennsylvania and loves all things antiques, cilantro, and American history.
Lauryn Higgins is a freelance journalist whose work focuses primarily on public health. Her work tracking the coronavirus for The New York Times was part of a team that won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. When she's not working she loves spending time in her kitchen and garden, taking barre classes and cuddling with the love of her life, her 90-pound bernedoodle, Gus. Her work has also appeared in NPR, Salon, Teen Vogue and Well + Good.
Start with brisk walking. Aim for 30 minutes per session. Allow a minimum of 8 to 12 weeks to build up to regular running. Aim to increase your jogging time each session, and alternate between walking and jogging.Is it better to run in short bursts? ›
Short Bursts of Exercise Are Better Than Exercising Nonstop. You don't need to be working out for longer, but you should probably be working harder—in spurts, at least. Studies have shown that interval training can help people burn more fat, and increase fitness levels even after just 15 or 20 minutes of exercise.Which type of exercises are done in short quick bursts? ›
When exercising for less than 30 minutes, it is best to do what is called HIIT, or high intensity interval training, which is short all-out effort bursts followed by more moderate efforts of exercise. HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time, helping you lose fat and gain muscle.Which type of exercise is short burst and last from a few seconds to a few minutes? ›
Anaerobic literally means “without air.” These exercises are comprised of short, high-intensity, bursts of movement at maximum effort that can be just a few seconds long or last a little over a minute. This type of physical activity is usually intense enough to create lactic acid in the muscles.How do you combine running and walking? ›
Use the Right Ratio
Example: You run for two minutes and start to hear your breath? You should run for two minutes and walk for four minutes. For people who can run continuous miles but want to build endurance, 4-to-1 (four minutes running, one minute walking) and 5-to-1 are good ratios to start with.
Regular running will definitely get you a toned, fit body including a firm butt. However running per se will not make your butt bigger unless you specifically work out on your glutes.Is it better to do two short runs or one long run? ›
The most obvious reason is that by running shorter twice, you don't beat your body up as much as you would on a longer single run. On these shorter runs you have plenty of fuel stores and rely primarily on your heavily fatigue-resistant slow-twitch muscle fibres. The result: no lingering fatigue or damage.Is it better to run Continuously or in intervals? ›
Interval running often allows you to do more overall work at greater intensities than steady-state running. This helps quicken your pace. For example, if your 5K race pace is eight minutes per mile, you likely wouldn't be able to go out and run 6K at that same pace.What are the benefits of short bursts of exercise? ›
“Short bursts of activity burn more calories, increase metabolic rate, and improve endurance and strength – all in less time. Simply ramping up your activity for a few minutes, a few times a day can improve health,” says University Hospitals sports medicine specialist Joshua Beer, DO.What are the best exercises to lose belly fat? ›
- Walking, especially at a quick pace.
- Group fitness classes.
The method is up to you -- you can run, cycle, jump rope, use an elliptical -- you name it. After spending five to 10 minutes warming up, go as fast as you can for 20 to 30 seconds, followed by one to four minutes of active rest at a slow pace. Continue cycling between work and rest for a total of 30 minutes.Which exercise is best in short amount of time? ›
HIIT, resistance training, and anaerobic training are great choices of modality when time is short. Frequency – the shorter your workouts, the more often you can get them done. Try to train 4+ times per week if your sessions are short.Is Short Burst exercise better than cardio? ›
Short burst workouts work for fat loss while cardio fails. Why? In each intense workout, you focus on applying an intense stimulus to the muscles. This creates “turbulence” in the muscles, and requires a lot of energy to repair and replenish the muscles before the next workout.What type of exercise is intense has short bursts of activity working your muscles so hard they produce energy without oxygen? ›
anaerobic exercise – intense, short bursts of activity in which the muscles work so hard that they produce energy without using oxygen.Can short workouts be effective? ›
The study shows that you can make meaningful improvements in your muscle strength in just one short workout a week, but Steele says he recommends that people aim for twice a week so that if they miss a session, they remain on track.How do you combine running and exercise? ›
- Eat. ...
- Stagger your running distances on different days. ...
- Pick one run to be an interval run. ...
- Never run on the day after your leg-training day for weights. ...
- Never run before weights. ...
- Weights, Refuel, Run.
Power walking burns a similar number of calories as running. For example, power walking at 4.5 mph for one hour would burn the same as jogging at 4.5 mph for one hour. For an effective workout, try pace training. Increase your speed for two minutes at a time, then slow back down.How do you walk and jog to lose weight? ›
Before you begin, you should be able to walk for 20 minutes comfortably. Walk for 5 minutes to warm up before your workout and to cool down afterward; stretch when you're done. After 12 weeks, you should be able to jog continuously for 45 minutes.What will happen to your body if you jog everyday? ›
"You will see improved cardiovascular and respiratory function, strengthening of all your leg muscles, as well as your core, back and arms, and greater bone density. It is also one of the best calorie-burning cardio workouts you can do."Do you lose belly fat when you run or walk? ›
One study found that regular aerobic exercises, such as walking, reduced belly fat and helped people manage obesity. Walking and running help burn calories in the body, but they also help reduce belly fat, depending on the intensity of the exercise. However, running may help reduce belly fat more effectively.
You can either run or walk every single day, or you can incorporate a walk or run every other day into your varied exercise routine. Experts suggest that brisk walking for about 30 minutes at a moderate speed every day can burn 150 to 200 calories.Is a 10 minute run enough? ›
Studies show that running just 5 to 10 minutes each day at a moderate pace may help reduce your risk of death from heart attacks, strokes, and other common diseases. But the same research also shows that these benefits top off at 4.5 hours a week, meaning there's no need to run for hours each day.Can you do short runs everyday? ›
If you're in the habit of doing longer runs lasting for 40 minutes or more, you may doubt the benefits of shorter sessions. But if you are going to run every day, shorter runs make sense, as you'll be less likely to get injured than if you do daily long runs.Does running reduce belly fat? ›
However, the good news is that running is one of the best forms of exercise to lose belly fat, and there are even a few small tweaks you can make to your regular running schedule to deliver a sustained fat burning boost.How many times a week should I run to lose weight? ›
If your goal is to lose weight generally, you should run about 3 or 4 times a week on alternating days for about 45 minutes. On rest days it is still crucial to engage in some form of exercise. Moving and burning calories are key! Most people overestimate the calories they burn on a run.
Aim to dedicate at least one day per week for a hard interval workout and when that starts to feel routine, consider adding a second day of shorter or easier intervals (or a different type of workout such as a tempo run). Remember most of the running you do should be easy and done at a comfortable pace.How many times a week should I do interval running? ›
Start with one interval session a week and then gradually build up from there. ' Mansour says that, because of the high intensity it involves, you should do no more that three intervals sessions in a week – and then only if you allow for adequate rest and recovery in-between.Is it better to exercise all at once or break it up? ›
Studies show you don't have to get all your exercise at once for it to make a big difference in your life. Moving throughout the day is just as effective.Does 5 minutes of exercise make a difference? ›
Ultimately, all three experts agree that working out in some way most days — even if just for 5 minutes — is always better than doing nothing. “People tend to focus on what they can't do instead of what they can do,” says Joyner.How do you get rid of lower belly pooch fast? ›
- Cut your calories. ...
- And maybe cut your carbs too. ...
- Bump up your protein. ...
- Stop drinking your calories. ...
- Try intermittent fasting. ...
- Go for high intensity intervals. ...
- Try resistance training. ...
- Get enough sleep.
- Try curbing carbs instead of fats. ...
- Think eating plan, not diet. ...
- Keep moving. ...
- Lift weights. ...
- Become a label reader. ...
- Move away from processed foods. ...
- Focus on the way your clothes fit more than reading a scale. ...
- Hang out with health-focused friends.
Walking. Walking is simple, yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood, and lower your risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease, for example).What is the fastest way to get back in shape? ›
Run or jog 20 to 30 minutes every other day. You can also do other moderate-intensity activities like walking briskly, swimming, or bicycling. After your cardio workout, do three to four sets of bodyweight exercises like squats, pushups, lunges, burpees, or Russian twists.What is the healthiest form of exercise? ›
1. Aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise, which speeds up your heart rate and breathing, is important for many body functions. It gives your heart and lungs a workout and increases endurance.What time is exercise most effective? ›
Between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., your body temperature is at its highest. This may mean you'll be exercising during the window of time your body is most ready, potentially making it the most effective time of day to work out.Is thirty minutes of straight exercise better than 10 minutes three times a day? ›
Getting at least 10 minutes of continuous moderate activity three times a day can give the same health benefits as 30 minutes of nonstop exercise. Here are some activities to help you get the most out of 10 minutes.How long should a short workout be? ›
Try starting with short workouts that are 30 minutes or less. As you feel your strength building, add a couple more minutes every week. The American Heart Association recommends 75-150 minutes of aerobic activity, as well as two strength-training sessions, per week.What cardio gets you in shape the fastest? ›
HIIT. The most popular form of vigorous exercise at the moment is no question, HIIT or high intensity interval training. "High Intensity Interval Training is the best bang for your buck when it comes to a high calorie burn in short periods of time," Forrest said.What are the big benefits of 2 minute exercise bursts? ›
Got two minutes to exercise? Then you have enough time to lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and even early death, according to a study published online Oct. 27, 2022, by the European Heart Journal. Researchers looked at almost 72,000 adults, average age 62, who were free of cardiovascular disease or cancer.What is a combination of short bursts of intense exercise? ›
HIIT or Interval Training
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and interval training are exercise routines that use short bursts of intense exercise mixed with lower-intensity moves and rest periods. Research shows that HIIT exercises for belly fat help control weight and improve your overall physical condition.
When exercising for less than 30 minutes, it is best to do what is called HIIT, or high intensity interval training, which is short all-out effort bursts followed by more moderate efforts of exercise. HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time, helping you lose fat and gain muscle.What are the benefits of short bursts of intense exercise? ›
Quick blasts of vigorous exercise, performed repeatedly with short rest periods, can increase oxygen uptake and keep cardiac arteries from clogging, he said, as well as power the heart to pump more blood and function better overall.What is the best fruit to eat after a workout? ›
Consuming fruits like bananas, berries, dates and grapefruit is a great way to replenish after a sweaty workout. They are loaded with vitamins, folate, antioxidants and macronutrients such as iron, calcium and potassium. Moreover, natural sugar or fructose present in fruit provides energy.Does 10 minutes of exercise make a difference? ›
“There is overwhelming evidence that even a short 10-minute workout performed at moderate to high intensity can make a huge difference in your health and fitness level,” says Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare.Does 20 minutes of exercise make a difference? ›
Studies Find 11 to 20 Minutes of Daily Exercise Might Lower Your Risk of Stroke, Heart Disease and Cancer. A new study published in JAMA Network Open found that not only does physical activity decrease people's risk of developing health problems but it prevents them from being hospitalized as well.Do short intense workouts build muscle? ›
HIIT and other high-intensity exercise programs help you burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Research has also showed that you keep burning calories for hours after your workout is finished. These workouts typically cause you to burn more fat and build muscle.Is a mix of running and walking good for weight loss? ›
The bottom line is that both walking and running lead to weight loss. Walking is still a wonderful way to get started with an exercise program and it's far preferable to no exercise at all.How many minutes of walking is equal to jogging? ›
For when you're short on time: Running
According to Magato, a two-mile run and a two-mile walk will deliver the same benefit—running will just allow you to do it faster. "Thirty minutes of running is equal to about 60 minutes of walking," she says.
Jogging short recoveries ramps up the aerobic demands of the workout, so it's the right call sometimes (see “Seasonal Variety,” right). The best time to walk recoveries is when you're doing short intervals to work on your top speed, in which case starting with full phosphocreatine stores gives you an edge.How many times a week should you walk or run? ›
Walking for 30 minutes a day or more on most days of the week is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. If you can't manage 30 minutes a day, remember even short walks more frequently can be beneficial. Walking with others can turn exercise into an enjoyable social occasion.
Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Greater amounts of exercise will provide even greater health benefit.How many days a week should I walk jog? ›
You need to run a minimum of three days a week for at least 30 minutes at a time for some progress to be made. Rest day(s) should still promote some form of activity e.g. walking, cross-training. Don't run while injured.Is it better to walk or ride a bike? ›
Cycling is more efficient than walking, so you'll probably work harder by walking briskly and probably exercise your heart, lungs and major muscles more. On the other hand, cycling is probably less hard on your hips, knees and ankles than walking.What will walking an hour a day do? ›
Maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat. Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Improve cardiovascular fitness. Strengthen your bones and muscles.How many steps per minute is considered jogging? ›
Jogging generally starts at about 140 steps per minute, she says.Is it better to walk or jog for weight loss? ›
Between walking and running, running is better for weight loss because it burns more calories in less time. It's also been shown to be more effective at burning belly fat than walking.Is it better to jog everyday or every other day? ›
Insider's takeaway. Although running is a beneficial activity to do frequently, running every day can increase your risk of injuries like stress fractures and shin splints. Instead, aim to run three to five days a week and incorporate rest days and cross-training like biking or swimming.Is it better to jog every other or everyday? ›
But is it OK to run every day? The simple answer is: No, you need at least one rest day a week to allow your muscles to recover. Plus, overtraining can lead to overuse injuries, stress and prolonged fatigue.Will jogging 20 minutes a day make a difference? ›
Weight-loss benefits – Think short runs won't boost weight loss? Think again. If you run for 20 minutes each day, you'll burn approximately 200 calories. To lose 1lb of body fat per week, you'd need to reduce your total calorie intake in one week by 3500 calories.