It’s free, uncomplicated and easy to work into even the busiest of schedules – but can you lose weight from walking? Unlike heart rate-spiking kettlebell training or marathon-style endurance running, walking doesn’t tend to feature heavily as a weight loss exercise. But in fact, incorporating regular brisk walks into your workout regimen is a simple way to change your body composition.
If you want to lose weight from walking, how far, how fast and how often should you hit the trails? We reveal how many calories walking burns, examine the health benefits associated with making a habit of hitting the pavement, and share a selection of simple but effective walking tips from personal trainer and health expert Laura Williams:
Is walking a good way to lose weight?
Aerobic training such as walking is the best mode of exercise for losing weight, as confirmed by researchers from Duke University Medical Centre. In a large randomised study, they compared aerobic training, resistance training, and a combination of the two – and the former won out for its fat-burning abilities.
Walking at any speed will help you burn calories, and you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. Generally a brisk pace is recommended for building fitness and burning calories – upwards of 3.5 mph (5.6 km/hr) is considered ‘brisk’, though it differs from person to person. You should aim for roughly 60 to 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate.
Weight loss may also be influenced by whether you walk continuously or in shorter bursts. In one study, women walked briskly for either 50 straight minutes or two 25-minute bouts each day while following a calorie-controlled diet. Those who split their exercises lost 1.7kg more than those who tackled their workout in one swoop.
The number of calories you burn while walking can be influenced by a variety of factors – including the terrain, the temperature, and your age – but it primarily depends on your weight and walking speed. The faster you walk and the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn.