Walking for Weight Loss: What You Need to Know

Woman walking outside

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

To lose weight you should aim to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps daily. Depending on your diet and other activity, you may need to increase this number to lose weight. Walking is one of the simplest ways to add more activity to your day for weight management. No need for expensive gym memberships, fancy workout clothes, or schedule changes to make time for exercise.

When walking for weight loss, all you need is supportive footwear, comfortable clothes, and a safe and convenient place to walk. To learn how it works and what to expect, read on. You will discover how far to walk to lose weight, how to make walking a regular part of your daily routine, and some walking workouts ideas.

How Much Should You Walk to Lose Weight 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), walking helps your body burn more calories. A 154-pound person burns 280 calories an hour walking at a moderate pace (3.5 miles per hour) and 460 calories an hour walking at a vigorous pace—4.5 miles per hour (MPH).

To lose weight walking, you need to walk at a moderate pace for 30 or more minutes at least 5 days a week. However, walking for longer periods of time at a more vigorous intensity can lead to better results. When walking for weight loss, going at a pace that increases your breathing and heart rate is more effective at helping you reach your goals than a casual stroll.

Just make sure you set walking goals you can meet. While vigorous walking leads to better outcomes, there’s nothing wrong with starting out at a pace that suits your current fitness level. Then, you can slowly increase the length or intensity of your walk as your fitness improves. Setting unattainable goals can set you up for failure, especially when it comes to weight loss.

Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight is a long-term commitment that must include lifestyle changes you can follow for the rest of your life. This includes eating a nutritious balanced diet and getting regular physical activity. 

Making good food choices and getting more exercise affects your calorie equation, or the number of calories you need to maintain your weight. To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories, burning more calories, or both.

How to Make Walking Part of Your Day

Walking is already part of your day and turning it into a form of exercise that helps with weight management doesn’t have to be complicated. You can even break up your walks into 10-minute increments if time is limited.

In fact, all bouts of activity count toward helping you reach your fitness goals; even something as small as walking up one flight of stairs instead of using the elevator provides benefits. Use a walking app or fitness tracker to monitor your progress. This can help you hit your walking goals, whether you’re aiming for 10,000 steps or 60 minutes a day.

Also, keep a pair of comfortable walking shoes in the car or a bag to ensure you are always ready to walk. And, bring a refillable water bottle with you throughout your day so that you can stay hydrated. Here are some additional tips for making sure walking is part of your day.

Park Far Away

Instead of parking as close to the door as possible, park at the far end of the lot. This not only helps you get in more steps, but saves you the frustration of finding that perfect parking spot right near the door.

Take the Stairs

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help you ensure you are getting in additional steps. What's more, opting for the stairs instead of the elevator is a great way to get in more strenuous physical activity. 

Walk During Lunch

Use part of your lunch break to take a stroll through the office or around the community outside. To make it more enjoyable and to help you stay motivated, invite your co-workers and make your lunchtime walk more fun and social. 

Invite Friends to Hike Instead of Coffee

Getting together with friends is important for your mental and social well-being. Instead of meeting for coffee or lunch, make plans to check out the local hiking trails in your area.

Walk While You Wait

If you are too early for a healthcare provider appointment, take a walk around the block. Or, if you are waiting for your kids to finish baseball practice, go for a brisk walk around the field. Anytime you are waiting, think of it as an opportunity to get a walk in.

Sample Walking Workouts

Adding more walks to your daily routine is a great way to boost physical activity. But when walking for weight loss, you may need to step things up a notch to reach your fitness goals. After getting the OK from a healthcare provider, try one or all of these walking workouts to keep your walks interesting and effective.

Treadmill Walking Workout

With a treadmill walking workout you never have to worry about the weather spoiling your exercise routine. Plan for a 30-minute workout. First, start with a 5 minute warm-up at a moderate intensity at about 3.5 MPH and no incline.

Increase the incline to 3% and pace to 4.0 MPH and walk briskly for 5 minutes, then lower your incline to zero and pace back to moderate intensity and walk for 2 minutes. 

Raise the incline of your treadmill back to 3% and increase your pace to 4.2 MPH so you’re walking a bit faster. Stay at this pace and incline for 5 minutes and then go back to zero incline and a moderate pace for 2 minutes. Increase your incline to 3% and your pace back to a brisk walk at 4.0 MPH for 5 minutes.

Lower your incline back to zero and your pace to moderate intensity (3.5 MPH) for your 5-minute cooldown. As your fitness improves, increase the incline or speed of your walk. Make sure you keep your arms moving during your workout so you get the most benefits. Also, maintain good posture during your treadmill walk—head up and eyes forward—to reduce the risk of injury.

High-Intensity Interval Walking Workout


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of workout that alternates between periods of intense exercise and followed by quick bouts of recovery. HIIT is an efficient way to get the health benefits of a moderate-intensity aerobic workout in a shorter period of time.

A HIIT walking workout is similar to the treadmill workout, but one you can do anywhere. First, start with a 5-minute warm-up, walking at a pace that allows you to have a conversation without getting winded.

Then increase your speed so you’re walking at a pace that makes having a conversation difficult. Continue at this faster pace for 2 minutes and then slow back down to a conversational pace for 2 minutes and repeat. Repeat this pattern five times, walking intensely for 2 minutes, followed by a 2-minute recovery.

Once you complete your HIIT walking workout, walk at a moderate pace for 5 minutes to cooldown. You can increase the duration of your HIIT walking workout as your endurance improves. 

Hill Walking Workout

It is no secret that walking uphill is hard. But a hill walking workout is a great way to change-up your workout routine. It not only tests your strength and endurance, but also works out different muscle groups.

Start with a 5-minute warm-up walking on level ground. Then start your uphill climb. Use short steps, maintain a steady pace, and lean slightly into the hill at your ankles, keeping your torso over your hips.

If you lean too far forward or backward when walking uphill, you throw your body off balance, putting yourself at risk of injury. Walk at a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation without gasping for breath. What goes up, must come down. When walking downhill, keep your torso upright, and bend at the knees. 

A Word From Verywell

Walking makes a good exercise choice for weight management. It is relatively inexpensive and a workout you can do almost anywhere. When waking for weight loss, create goals you can hit to keep yourself motivated.

There is nothing wrong with starting out with 10-minute daily walks and slowly increasing as your fitness, endurance, and motivation improves. All types of physical activity puts you on the road to wellness. Just make sure you talk to a healthcare provider before beginning your new walking regimen. They can help you determine what is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you lose weight if your only exercise is walking?

    You can lose weight if your only exercise is walking. However, losing weight means more than adding exercise. To reach your weight management goals, you need to create a calorie deficit.

    Walking is a good form of exercise that helps you burn calories. But when walking to lose weight you need to follow a balanced diet that provides the right number of calories and nutrients to support your health and your weight loss.

  • How can you tell if you are walking fast enough to lose weight?

    Though walking faster burns more calories, when it comes to weight loss, the amount of time you walk is more important than the speed of your walk. If you want to lose more than 5% of your current body weight and keep it off, you should aim for 60-minute walks 5 days a week.

  • How many minutes should you walk if you want to lose weight?

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says you need more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week to lose weight. That means you need to walk 60 or more minutes 5 days a week. Adding 2 days of strength-training a week also helps you manage your weight. However, the most effective way to reach your goal weight and stay there is by combining a balanced diet with regular physical activity like walking.

9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jill Corleone, RD
Jill is a registered dietitian who's been learning and writing about nutrition for more than 20 years.