There’s no doubt about it: walking is great for your health.
People that walk, even for as little as 15 minutes a day a few times a week, can enjoy a reduced risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, reduce their joint pain, and improve their mood (just to name a few of the benefits).
Alongside these, many studies have shown walking can also be an awesome aid to weight loss. However, a common question on walking for weight loss is, “How much should we walk?”
Come on a walk with me (har har) as I break down how you can walk off the pounds.
Walking for Weight Loss
To begin, when we talk about walking for weight loss, the disclaimer is that one size doesn’t fit all.
Typically when we walk to burn fat, we’re walking to burn extra calories. How many calories you burn depends on your age, current weight, height, and how long and fast you’re walking.
On average according to various calculators, a person can look forward to burning 100 to 300 calories in 30-45 minutes. Again, that’s a pretty wide range, but at least it gives you a base estimate to start with. If you want a more accurate reading, investing in a heart rate monitor that also reads calories burned is a great option.
How Long Should You Walk For Weight Loss?
Let’s start with time. It’s usually recommended to walk several days per week for at least 30 minutes to see benefits. If you’re extremely overweight, this may be a good starting point for you.
If you’re moderately active during the day, or if your job involves a decent amount of movement, you may need to kick this up to 45 minutes to an hour to see some fat loss.
The time you spend walking also depends on the type of terrain you’re walking on. If it’s sand or a slightly elevated surface, you may be able to walk for less time than if you were just walking on a flat road. This is because elevation and uneven surfaces can cause you to burn more calories since you’re exerting more energy.
As a general rule: aim for 30 minutes minimum, and increase if you’re able.
How to Maximize Calorie Burn While Walking
There are a few strategies that can take a normal stroll (which may not result in too much weight loss unless you’re very overweight) and turn it into a fat-burning session.
1. Power It Up
Boosting your speed by power walking can burn many more calories than regular walking, so try and push yourself. Pump your arms and lengthen your strides. Feel your heart rate kick up. Try to power walk for as long as possible; if you can only go for a few minutes before slowing down, keep alternating between periods of power walking and periods of normal speed.
2. Add an Incline
If you’re on the treadmill, add a few inches of incline. If you’re outside, try to find an elevated road (or even a hilly or mountainous area) to walk on. Adding elevation will burn significantly more calories than walking o flat terrain, and can also tone your legs. Focus on pushing through your glutes to get a full leg burn.
Also, bonus points if you combine power walking with an incline.
3. Hold Hand Weights
Holding hand weights (even if they’re light because you’re a beginner) can also increase your calorie burn. You’ll notice that your heart rate will pick up quicker when you’re holding them and pumping your arms.
Heck, you can even do bicep curls and overhead presses while you’re going!
What About Strength Training?
On the path to fat loss, I’ll always recommend you start and keep a strength training program going. Building muscle is critical in keeping your metabolism going strong, and also burns more calories at rest than if you didn’t have much muscle.
Again as a general rule, I’d recommended strength training 3 times a week to start seeing results and to get stronger. Focus on full-body movements and really challenging yourself.
If you want to up the ante, try integrating interval training into your regime. This involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity exercise, and is one of the proven best ways to burn fat.
(We do quite a bit of this in my fitness course – check out this link for the free 14-day trial)
My highest advice with walking is to start where you’re comfortable as far as time, speed, and terrain, and then aim to push yourself. With a mindset to go a little longer or a little harder each time, you’re almost guaranteed to see results.