Walking to Lose Weight
By Rebecca Walton, wlr team
Walking is a fantastic activity to help boost weight loss and feel fitter. It’s free, low impact and you can do it anywhere.
Regular walking means your body burns more calories – it can help to boost your weight loss, and have a positive effect on health and fitness markers compared to dieting alone.
You could lose up to 25% more body weight over 12 weeks by adding just 3hrs weekly walking to your weight loss efforts1 (that’s just 45 minutes 4 times/week, or 30 mins 6 times/week).
We answer 5 important questions around how walking can help you to lose weight, with calorie burn charts and advice and tips for using walking to help with your weight loss goals:
- Can you lose weight by walking?
- Is walking good for weight loss?
- How much should I walk to lose weight?
- How many calories does walking burn?
- Getting started with walking for weight loss (and fitness)
Can you lose weight by walking?
To lose weight you need to consume less calories than your body needs to run itself each day. This creates a calorie deficit, which means your body uses its fat stores to make up the shortfall, and you lose body fat.
You can do this either by eating less, moving more, or a combination of the two.
Walking is an easy, accessible, proven way to help you achieve your weight loss goals – the study we mentioned earlier1 showed that combining walking with a calorie deficit resulted in 25% more weight loss than just limiting calories through diet.
The study participants who walked for 3hrs per week lost an extra 1.3lbs/½ kg per month than those who didn’t add walking to their weight loss efforts.
It’s not just the scientific studies that show walking really helps when it comes to weight loss, many of our members credit walking with helping them achieve their goals…
Is walking good for losing weight?
Walking is a great all-round exercise with very real weight loss benefits... here's our top 5 reasons why walking is great tool to help you lose weight:
Burns calories and boosts weight loss
Not only does walking regularly give you more calories to spend when trying to shed pounds (which means you're more likely to be able to stick with working towards your goals), it will improve your fitness level, so over time your body will burn more calories even at rest.
Helps with weight maintenance after a period of losing weight
Studies have shown that keeping up regular walking after weight loss can help you to keep the weight off and maintain your new weight- with one studies participants showing 3.6kg less regain than those with no regular walking after 1 year2.
Promotes positive mental health
Walking has been found to have positive effects to help both both prevent and treat depression, anxiety and stress, in addition to having a positive impact on self-esteem3. Conditions such as depression and axiety have been found to be associated with obesity and weight gain4.
Helps you to sleep better
Get enough sleep, and getting good quality sleep are important for weight management5 - shorter sleep duration and bad qaulity sleep are associated with obesity. Walking helps you to get better sleep.6,7
Other health benefits of walking include:
Walking doesn’t just have weight loss and health benefits…
- It’s free!
- It doesn’t need any special equipment
- It’s environmentally friendly
- It can be done almost anywhere
- It can be a sociable activity, fun to do with family and friends, and a great shared activity to get kids more active
How much should I walk to lose weight?
On average, you need to burn an additional 3500 calories over and above what your body needs to lose 1lb/½ kg. If you’re currently maintaining your weight, and you don’t change your diet, this means you’d need to burn these calories through exercise (walking) alone.
Walking at a moderate pace for 3 hrs per week, an average person* can expect to burn around 700 - 750 calories – this would result in a 1lb loss every 4-5 weeks… that’s almost a stone in a year (remember… this is with no other changes).
The amount of weight you’ll lose by walking depends on a few factors, including your starting weight, your gender, and how many calories you consume each day.
You can find out how many calories you burn walking, based on your specific personal details, using the tools in weight loss resources – try it free.
How many calories does walking burn?
Use the tables below to see how many calories you could burn walking at different speeds.
Although walking for longer increases the total calories burned and aids weight loss, your walking pace also has an impact – short bursts of brisk walking can also really help you to lose weight (even more reason to set aside just 10 minutes, or ditch the car and use your feet to grab essentials from the local shop!)
*Female, Age 40, 5ft 5in tall, Weighs 12st 7lb and has a Moderately Sedentary lifestyle.
*Male, Age 40, 6ft tall, Weight 14st 7lb and has a Moderately Active lifestyle.
Values calculated using the tools available in weightlossresources.co.uk, based on average values for a man and woman in the UK, with a moderately sedentary lifestyle.
What's My Walking Speed?
You can calculate your walking speed in two ways:
1. Time how long it takes you to walk a mile (most smartphones will show you how far a mile is walking from your start point)
2. Count the number of steps you take in 1 minute
Look up your figure on the chart below and read across to find your walking speed:
*Based on a 2½ foot/0.75m stride
Getting started with walking for weight loss
As with any form of physical activity start off slowly with small goals and build up gradually. Try to aim for four to five, 30-60 minute walks, in a week.
If it’s difficult to find time to fit this in, you can try shorter bursts of 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day.
- Try to keep a straight posture - shoulders down, back straight.
- Breathe deeply and evenly
- Set a brisk pace - you should feel warm and slightly breathless. You can alternate your pace between fast and moderate to build fitness.
- Ease back to a slower pace for the end of the walk to cool down.
Try different routes and lengths of walks and involve your family and friends. Once you have a regular route that works for you, you can mix it up a bit by walking it backwards (the route… not actually walking backwards).
Browse maps, magazines and guides, online or in your local bookshop, for inspiration on walks in your area and further afield. Many local areas have walking groups on social media platforms such as Facebook – they post local walking routes with maps and timings.
Try to incorporate walking as much as possible into your daily routine and plan longer walks at the weekend – even when it’s chilly outside a good long walk on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon can make you feel great!
How to Fit More Walking Into Your Day
- Park your car in the space that is the furthest away and walk to the office
- If you take the train/bus get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way
- Walk to work
- On your lunch break go for a walk around the block
- If you need to speak to somebody in the office, walk over to them instead of phoning/messaging them
- Walk to the local shop to buy your lunch
- Don’t take the lift, use the stairs
With the Kids:
- Walk the children to school/playgroup
- Walk to the park and back with the kids at the weekend
- Find the time for one walk each week with each child - make this your special time when the two of you are alone and you can chat and catch up
- Plan fun exploration walks for the kids - get out and explore your local neighbourhood (check out geocaching for a fun walking activity with or without the kids!)
- Make it your mission to plan a new walk for each weekend - look out for local parks, country walks, etc. It’s a great way to spend some quality weekend time… for free!
- If you drop your children at clubs or parties, don't spend the time driving back and forth, go for a walk instead
- Plan to go walking for fitness once a week with a friend
- If you plan to meet friends, walk to their house, or get them to meet you half way
- Offer to join your friend when they are walking the dog
- Rather than meeting your friends for coffee, suggest going for a stroll
- Get up early and go for a walk
- If you run out of essentials, walk to the local shop to buy them - don't take the car
- Walk around the house whilst talking on the phone
- Set yourself a goal to walk up and down the stairs a certain amount of times per day (most fitness trackers will help you to do this)
- Use the upstairs bathroom
- If you tend to collect household items that need to go upstairs and move them all at once, make an effort to take each one upstairs as you come across it
- Whilst watching T.V. always get up and walk around during the adverts
Safety tips for walking
It is very important that you keep safe and don’t put yourself at risk when walking:
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your walk, especially if it’s a warm day
- Make sure someone knows where you are and what time you are expected home
- Think ahead and be aware of your surroundings
- Carry a small amount of emergency money and a mobile phone
- Make yourself as visible as possible, especially if its dark
- Wear appropriate footwear (think about the weather)… you don’t need anything specialised – a pair of trainers or walking boots, even wellies!
- Always walk facing oncoming traffic if you have to walk on the road
See how many calories you can burn through walking, and how many you'll need each day to lose weight - simply register for free access to WLR Start Now
References and Resources
1. Moderate Walking Enhances the Effect of an Energy-Restricted Diet on Fat Mass Loss and Serum Insulin in Overweight and Obese Adults in a 12 Week Randomised Controlled Trial (2017) B. Kleist et al. The Journal of Nutrition - Vol. 147, Issue 10
2. The Effects of Walking Training on Weight Maintenance After a Very-Low-Energy Diet in Premenopausal Obese Women (2000) M. Fogelholm et al. Arch Internal Medicine - Vol 160
3. Walking on Sunshine: Scoping Review of the Evidence for Walking and Mental Health (2018) P. Kelly et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine - Vol 52, Issue 12
4. Overweight, Obesity and Depression: A Ssytematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Longditudinal Studies (2010) F.S. Luppino et al. Arch General Psychiatry - Vol 67
5. Sleep and Obesity (2011) G. Beccuti and S. Pannain. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care - Vol 14, Issue 4
6. Effects of an Accute Bout of Light Intensity Walking on Sleep in Older Women with Sleep Impairment: A Radomised Controlled Trial (2019) L.J. Chen et al. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine - Vol 15, Issue 4
7. The Effects of Daily Walking Exercise on Sleep Quality in Healthy Young Adults (2020) F. Wang. Sport Sciences for Health - Dec 2020
8. Walking to Health (1997) J.N. Morris and A.E. Hardman. Journal of Sports Medicine - Vol 23
9. Effects of Walking Training on Health Related Fitness in Healthy Middle Aged Adults - A Randomised Controlled Study (2007) K. Kukkonen et al. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports - Vol 8, Issue 4
10. The Effect of Walking Intervention on Blood Pressure Control : A Systematic Review (2010) L. Ling-Lee et al. International Journal of Nursing Studies - Vol 47, Issue 12
Check out 100s of UK walks in our Walking Events Guide
The Ramblers, the UK's biggest charity for walkers.