Walking for weight loss is something that almost anyone can do. Walking can fit into almost any schedule, and it’s cheap, easy to start and low impact on your joints. To really lose weight by walking, you’ll need to make walking part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
If you’ve tried walking for weight loss, or if you’d like to start a walking routine, here are some tips that can help you be more successful. Real, long-term weight loss does require more than taking a few steps every day. Studies have shown that 28 percent of Americans aged 6 years or older are physically inactive, but 38.9 percent of American adults are overweight. The good news is that walking is an underrated form of exercise that can be a huge part of your weight loss routine.
Note: If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)!
Just Start Walking
The average person burns between 100 to 200 calories by taking a 30-minute brisk walk. That’s a great first step towards losing weight. If you’re not sure where to start, just start walking! Make sure to track your steps with Pacer and view your progress over time, but the best time to start is today.
A recent study showed that even light activity, like leisurely walking, can decrease your risk of death. While brisk walking offers amazing health benefits, the most important thing you can do is to get active at whatever pace you can.
You can find a variety of walking ideas on our blog, as well as ways to keep walking interesting. No one walking plan fits everyone, so try a variety of different ideas until you find the one that works best for you.
What You Eat is Important Too!
Burning calories from walking is one factor in losing weight, but it’s important to remember that it’s much easier to eat (or drink) calories than it is to walk them off! A 16-oz bottle of cola contains 240 calories, and blended iced coffee drinks can contain up to 600 calories! That means that you can undo all of the effort and prep work you put into your 30-minute daily walk in 30 seconds of drinking a beverage.
Losing weight doesn’t mean that you can never enjoy your favorite treats. Since you’re putting in the hard work to stay motivated and get walking, it just makes sense to put some work into eating healthier as well. The best way to lose weight is to reduce your calorie intake by making healthier choices while burning more calories by walking more. Learning more about portion sizes is a great place to start.
Set Realistic Goals
You’re more likely to succeed in walking for weight loss if you set realistic goals for yourself. Realistic goals help you stay motivated and allow for gradual changes that are healthy and sustainable. The best way to lose weight for the long term is to make lifestyle changes that you can stick with. This includes both increasing your walking and cutting down on empty calories.
According to many sources including the Mayo Clinic, losing 1-2 pounds per week (.5-1 kg) is a realistic goal. That requires burning 500-1000 calories per DAY through a combination of exercising more and eating fewer calories. Walking gives a lot of great health benefits besides weight loss, but making healthier choices in addition to walking more will give you the best chance of success.
Remember that weight loss is not usually a linear process. You’ll have days where you weigh yourself and find that you haven’t lost as much weight as you predicted. That’s ok! Keep tracking your progress over time, and you’ll notice a healthier trend.
Also remember that getting healthier and feeling better are amazing goals as well. You don’t have to have a goal of losing weight, and feeling great and getting active will give you great health benefits regardless of your current size. By setting realistic goals and focusing on the health benefits and how great you’re feeling, you’ll stay motivated to walk more and get active.
How Long Should You Walk?
A good rule of thumb is to set aside 30 to 90 minutes a day for walking. This allows you to make walking a daily habit, and to burn some serious calories that can lead to weight loss over time. A good way to get to 10,000 steps per day is by adding an additional 30-60 minute walk to go along with the steps you normally take every day. The number of steps you’ll get in 30 or 60 minutes depends on your pace, but it’s a great rule of thumb to start!
The CDC and WHO recommends adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every WEEK. That’s half an hour a day, 5 days a week. If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ll probably want to go over and above this. Adults can get additional benefits by performing up to 300 minutes per week.
If you’re not walking this much, build up your endurance gradually so that you stay motivated and reduce your risk of injury!
There are a lot of other walking benefits that can help with your overall weight loss goals. Research by George Washington University revealed that people who walk for 15 minutes after every meal have better blood-sugar control, which can help reduce sugar cravings.
Try Walking Uphill
Try walking a hilly route from time to time to increase the intensity of your walking workouts. Varying the terrain will also help to build and strengthen your leg muscles. Walking uphill can be more intense than you’d expect, so take it slow and build up your stamina if you’re used to walking on flat terrain.
Hiking is a great way to get some hill walking in. It’s also a great way to get amazing benefits from walking outdoors. If you can’t find a good hilly route and don’t have time to hike, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator to get some uphill work in.
Involve Your Arms
Do you find yourself slowing down when walking? By exaggerating your arm swings, you can help to boost your pace. Involving your arms helps to keep you active, which can help you walk longer. It also works your upper body while you’re walking as well.
Increase Your Intensity
Instead of walking normally, you should focus on brisk walking to increase your intensity. Your moderate-intensity exercise zone should be around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Research by Ohio State University showed that improving your walking speed can help you burn 20 percent more calories.
You can also incorporate intervals in your walks. Try taking a 1-minute burst of fast walking and then walking at a regular pace for 4 minutes to rest and recover. You can repeat this as many times as necessary, and you can always adjust the active and resting times. Intervals allow you to increase the intensity of your walks and to burn more calories.
Track Your Progress
Track your weight on a regular basis, and track your steps and time walking every day. This can help you stick to the plan. Try to weigh yourself at the same time each day – for instance when you wake up, after breakfast or before bed.
Keep track of your steps on Pacer, and see if you can increase your steps gradually over time. It can also be helpful to keep track of the food you eat, so you can better understand how many calories you’re actually taking in.
Knowledge is power! Knowing more about your workout routine, your diet, and your progress can help you identify problem areas and make lasting changes that you can stick with.
If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.