Walking For Weight Loss

In a world dominated by gyms and unlimited exercise options, the simple power of walking is often overlooked. Discover the untapped potential for weight loss through this age-old exercise.

By URLife Cafe
06 Mar 2024

With the popularity of fitness trends emphasising weight loss and calorie burn, the simple yet effective practice of walking is often overlooked. However, walking remains a steadfast, sustainable and accessible option that is not too taxing on the body. Not everyone requires a high-intensity workout regimen to shed those extra pounds. The simplicity and versatility of walking make it a sustainable choice for many individuals

Losing weight typically involves addressing two key aspects: your diet and physical activity. If you're not a fitness enthusiast, don't be overwhelmed; a simple solution is to incorporate walking into your routine. If the idea of fancy fitness classes and online workouts feels overwhelming, you don't have to follow them to achieve sustainable weight loss. The key is finding an enjoyable activity you can consistently engage in. Going back to basics can be effective, and walking is surely one of those.
As per the American Heart Association, the benefits of going ‘al fresco’ (in open air) like indulging in nature walks are so significant, that forest bathing is an emerging trend and some doctors are even giving their patients prescriptions to go out and enjoy nature.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


Related story: The many Powerful Benefits of Walking Everyday


Walking might be one of the most underrated forms of exercise. We do it so much anyway that we hardly even consider it exercise—but it is one of the most effective forms of physical exertion out there. All you need is a pair of shoes (or not, if that's your style) and a place to stroll – no pricey equipment or gym rush hours involved. It's a versatile exercise you can do almost anywhere, anytime.

The benefits of walking go far beyond just the number on the scale. Research also suggests that walking routinely can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and also improve longevity. It can improve a person's cognition while helping to decrease symptoms of anxiety and improve mood. Although there are pros and cons to walking at different times of the day, the best time of day to walk for weight loss is the time that works best in your schedule and one that you will stick to consistently. 

A study in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that individuals consuming diets that contained fewer calories experienced extra fat loss and significant reductions in fasting insulin levels when incorporating walking into their routines, compared to those who solely reduced calorie intake.

Another research by the National Institute of Health and Nutrition concludes that the most effective way to reduce hormonal belly fat is by regularly taking part in aerobic exercises such as walking. This is because chronic stress leads to sustained high levels of cortisol which in turn promotes the storage of visceral fat and walking calms our mind and reduces stress, when done for a period of time.

Also, not only walking but simple body movements such as NEAT are also helpful in the weight loss process. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) encompasses the calories burned through activities apart from exercise, eating, and sleeping. Everyday tasks like raking leaves, gardening, lifting things, climbing stairs, and even fidgeting contribute to additional calorie expenditure. Essentially, N.E.A.T. boosts metabolic rate, leading to a significant energy expenditure over time.


Related story: 7 Surprising Benefits of Walking


How Much Walking Should I Do To Lose Weight?

There's no one-size-fits-all formula for the number of steps, miles, or hours needed to achieve your weight loss goals through walking. Initially, the key is to increase your current activity level. If you have a physically demanding job, you may need to do more, but even a post-dinner walk can yield tangible results for those with sedentary desk jobs. 

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, moderate physical activity — which includes walking, for 30 minutes five times a week can result in modest weight loss. The same evidence suggests that a more rigorous walking schedule of 250 minutes or more per week (just about 35 minutes a day) can result in clinically significant weight loss.

There has been considerable emphasis on achieving a baseline of around 10,000 steps a day for overall health. However, for weight loss, it's advisable to gradually increase your daily steps, starting from your current baseline. For instance, if you typically get 3,000 steps, aim for 5,000 daily for a week before progressing to 7,000 the next week.

Additionally, contrary to the widespread belief that walking 10,000 steps a day is a golden rule for good health, this number is more of a myth than a universal truth. Research conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests that better health doesn't require hitting the 10,000-step mark. Instead, achieving between 6,000 and 8,000 daily steps is sufficient for many individuals


Related story: 5 Surprising Benefits of Walking Barefoot


Will I Lose Weight If I Walk 30 Minutes Daily?

The amount of weight someone can realistically lose through walking depends on various factors like diet, lifestyle, medical conditions, current weight, and overall physical activity. External factors such as stress, and living environment also play a role in this equation.

To shed those extra pounds, try mixing up your walking pace with intervals – speed up for a bit, then slow down. Research has found that interval walkers lose more weight than people who just go the same speed all the time. For instance, a study on individuals with type 2 diabetes discovered that alternating three minutes of brisk walking with three minutes at an average pace not only improved fitness and blood sugar control but also led to a positive shift in body composition, reducing belly fat and overall body fat.


Be Consistent

You don’t need to spend hours walking every day to kickstart weight loss, but forming a daily walking habit is the key. In order to maintain walking as a hobby, it is important that one doesn’t overexert or force themselves. Staying at the comfortable pace most of the time and challenging themselves in between is what is required at the intersection level. Make it a natural part of your routine, even if it's just a 10 or 15-minute walk on certain days. Try fitting in two to three high-intensity interval walks per week, a couple of longer hour-long walks, and the rest can be shorter, moderate-intensity strolls. These shorter walks are perfect for enjoying with a partner, your dog, a friend, or simply for some solo head-clearing time.

Don’t limit walking to just your designated workout time; incorporate it into daily life, like parking a bit farther from the store. Taking the stairs, though it might sound basic, burns more calories than a flat walk and helps shape your leg and glute muscles.


Use Inclines

Incorporating inclines into your walks is a smart move. It not only boosts your heart rate but also engages key muscle groups like glutes, quadriceps, and calves. The beauty is that, depending on the incline, you can enjoy similar advantages to running without stressing your joints, reducing wear and tear on your knees. Walking uphill adds a cardiovascular challenge, burning more calories and potentially more fat, depending on your weight and cardiovascular endurance.


Participate in Events

Staying motivated with walking becomes easier when you sign up for an event. Many 5K and 10K races welcome walkers, and surprisingly, you can even walk a half-marathon if you choose the right event. For in-person races, be mindful of time cutoffs. If organised events aren't your thing, exploring nature and trying out trails in your local area can provide a refreshing walking experience.


Increase Your Heart Rate

You don't have to break into a run or even a jog; simply increasing your walking speed can boost calorie burn by elevating your heart rate. No need to sprint – a moderately intense pace is effective. The CDC suggests that reaching 50 to 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate qualifies as a moderately intense workout, making it a beneficial and achievable goal during your walks.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


Follow Us On Instagram