If you’ve been out enjoying a walk lately, you may have wondered about the calories you are burning and asked yourself, ‘can I walk my way to weight loss?’
In short, yes you can.
How much weight can you lose?
Well, that will depend on a few factors.
However, one thing is clear: walking is a simple, easy and fun way to get your exercise in and burn those calories.
But can you burn enough calories to lose weight?
Read on to find out.
Walking and weight loss: the basics
Take a walk around your suburb or city and you’ll realise there are different types of walks that people take.
- Some people enjoy intense, faster walking
- Others take it more leisurely
- Some walk up hills
- Others walk on flat ground
- Some walk for an hour or longer
- Others walk for less time
All these factors relate to the intensity of the walk, and as such the number of calories you burn walking.
The more intense, the more calories you burn.
There are other factors too that relate to how much weight you can lose by regularly walking, such as: weight, age and gender. [i]
If you burn more calories in a day than you consume, you will then have a calorie deficit for that day.
It has been suggested that a 500-calorie deficit per day will result in weight loss over time.[ii]
So, whether it’s walking or another exercise, the key is burning enough calories to lose weight over time.
And with that, it’s pivotal that you understand daily calorie intake and its correlation to weight loss. [iii]
This is key.
When we eat and drink more calories than we use up, our bodies store the excess as body fat. If this continues, over time we may put on weight. [iv]
That is one reason why these tasty meal replacement shakes are ideal when you’re looking to cut the calories.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), describe moderate to intense exercise as something that raises the heart rate to 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.
Obviously, there are other activities that are more intense and strenuous that will burn calories faster than walking.
Pursuits such as cycling or swimming, for instance, burn calories much faster. [v]
That said, you can estimate your calories burned after a walk.
Click here for a calculator that will estimate how many calories you burnt on your walk.
And here for another walking and calories calculator.
Why is walking so popular?
Walking is easy to make as a functional part of your day.
You could take the stairs instead of the elevator, for instance.
Or walk (instead of taking a car) to the shops when it’s appropriate.
Similarly, alight public transport a stop or two earlier if possible.
Other reasons why walking is popular are:
- It’s free
- It can be good for your mental health, too. [vi]
- You don’t need equipment (though correct footwear is recommended)
- It can be done pretty much anytime and anywhere
- It’s social (you can walk with others)
The more you walk the more calories you will burn.
And if that means you have a calorie deficit each day, then over time the walking will help you lose weight.
Health benefits of walking
Numerous studies have pointed to the benefits of walking to the health of an individual. [vii] These include:
- Improved circulation
- Bone strengthening
- Muscle toning
- Slowing mental decline (memory)
The CDC adds that a singular bout of moderate-to vigorous physical activity provides immediate benefits for your health.[viii]
Other studies have shown how beneficial walking is to your health.[ix]
And the Heart Foundation have walking plans for those looking to improve their health.
Tips for a better walk
The more you enjoy your walking, the more you’ll do it and the more calories you’ll burn.
You could try:
- Walking with a friend
- Walking with a dog
- Walking different routes
- Split your walking (two 30 min walks a day rather than a single one-hour walk)
- Join a walking club
- Drive to a scenic location and taking a walk from there (to mix things up).
‘Regular nature hikes strengthen our heart, lungs, and muscles, as well as our mind,’ writes David Heber, Chairman of Herbalife Nutrition Institute. [x]
‘And going with friends can also reap healthy benefits.
‘So, the next time you reach the top of a hill at the end of a dirt path, pause to admire the view and appreciate all you’re doing for your health and happiness.’
If you don’t have hills to walk up near you, there are other options.
You could wear a weighted jacket. Or hold hand weights.
Both will increase the intensity of the walk and therefore burn more calories. [xi]
And Australia has some great walks if you want to take your walking to the next level.
Just make sure your footwear is appropriate.
‘Disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature gives our brain a much-needed recharge.
‘Hiking is a great way to get fresh air, especially if you live in urban areas.
‘Several studies indicate there are real benefits to getting outdoors to hike for overall health,’ adds Heber.
After a long, sweaty walk, your body will thank you when you reach for a protein shake to aid muscle recovery.