You don’t need to spend money on fancy equipment or an expensive gym membership to lose weight. Walking can just be as effective as high-intensity activities such as jogging or cycling. Studies have shown to reduce both body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage when combined with a healthy diet (Hanson and Jones, 2015).

It is undeniable that walking is an effective way to get in shape, though, there are some factors to keep in mind to maximize the benefits, including optimizing the number of steps, pace, and consistency.

If Your Moving Your Losing

Walking is beneficial for weight loss because it gets your heart pumping and helps you burn calories; according to the Mayo Clinic, you could burn up to 150 calories per day if you added just 30 minutes of walking to your daily routine. As you become more conditioned, you burn more calories, increase your metabolism, and begin to walk more. A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy found that walking 5 days per week, over a 12-week period helped thirty-five overweight participants reduce their body weight, BMI, and body fat percentage. Researchers also found that participants had reported significantly lower feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue.

Monitor Steps and Intensity

If walking is your primary form of exercise, the distance, intensity, and consistency level are key to reaping the health benefits. In general, fitness trackers and pedometers encourage users to walk 10,000 steps per day. Though the 10,000-step-per-day goal is commonly recommended, recent research has shown that health benefits accumulate with even less.

Dr. I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School led a team that examined the daily activities of nearly 17,000 women with an average age of 72 years to determine how many steps are required to gain health benefits. They then tracked the deaths of the women from any cause for more than four years. More than 500 women perished during the study’s duration. Those who walked 4,400 steps per day had a 41% lower risk of mortality than those who walked 2,700 steps per day during the trial. This risk dropped until about 7,500 steps when it reached a plateau.

Coupled with the distance, you’ll need to walk in the optimal heart rate zone to burn as many calories as possible and continue to lose weight. The fat-burning zone is 60–70% of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate subtract your age from 220 then divide that by 0.6. When exercising in this fat-burning zone, time is important to ensure walks are long enough for the body to burn fat rather than store carbohydrates. Sugars and stored carbs are burned first at the beginning of workouts, and once depleted, the body becomes more efficient at burning fat as the workout duration increases.

Combine Walking with a Calorie-Restricted Diet

While walking on its own can help you lose weight, it’s significantly more effective when combined with a calorie-controlled diet. In a weight-loss study, obese patients were asked to cut their daily calorie intake by 500–800 in a 12-week time period. One group walked three hours each week at a speed of 3.7 mph, while the other did not. While both groups dropped considerable amounts of weight, the walking group shed around 4 pounds more than the non-walking group on average.

Walking is a free, simple, activity that can keep you moving and improve overall health and wellbeing. Technology like fitness apps, and watches, can help you keep track of how many steps you take each day. But if you’re looking to turn up your fitness routine even by just a little, we recommend working with a personal trainer to help you find the right routine and strategy for your goals and body. Contact us to learn more about our professional training services.