Walking is not the most intense workout out there so you may wonder whether it still is enough to lose weight and what results you can expect.
Losing weight requires you to get to a point where your body uses more energy than is coming in from food.
Walking is good for weight loss in the sense that it helps this process. The movements involved burn more energy than activities where you mostly sit still.
It is important to note that there are also many exercises that are more effective than walking for losing weight.
Additionally, even with these, your habits in areas like diet would have to be good enough to see weight loss results.
On the flip side, some of the benefits of walking like being low-impact, easy to implement in your daily life, and relatively easy for your cardiovascular system could make this the right choice anyway.
More specifically, if more intense cardiovascular workouts are too much to handle for you or you really like walking, you could choose this type of exercise to lose weight.
Can walking help you lose weight?
While there are many other reasons to walk too, this activity can help you lose some weight. However, you need to know that this will not always be the case. There are still conditions.
To lose weight, you need to get in a situation where your body needs more energy than is coming in. In a situation like that, you start burning energy stores like body fat to get the rest of the energy you need.
Since walking helps you burn more energy than activities where you mostly sit still, this type of exercise can make it easier to get into the situation above.
At the same time, you still need to make sure there is not too much energy coming in to undo your efforts. This may require extra attention in areas like nutrition.
Calories burned walking vs exercise alternatives
Another important detail to keep in mind is that walking is not the only activity that makes you burn more energy. That means other exercise alternatives can potentially be better choices.
To get an idea of how walking compares to these alternatives, it can be helpful to look at the calorie-burning estimations.
These estimations about the number of calories burned with walking and other workouts are definitely not perfect but can help for purposes like this.
Some of these rough calorie-burning estimations for a 155-pound (70 kg) person doing the activities for 30 minutes are (1):
- Walking 4 mph (6.4 kmh): 175 calories
- Water Aerobics: 144 calories
- Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 144 calories
- Dancing (Fast, ballet, twist): 216 calories
- Swimming (general): 216 calories
- Vigorous weight lifting: 216 calories
- Stair Step Machine (general): 216 calories
- Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
- Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
- Running 5 mph: 288 calories
- Elliptical Trainer (general): 324 calories
This fun fact about walking should make it clear that there are better exercise alternatives for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time.
Burning a lot of calories is not the only thing that matters when choosing an exercise for weight loss but as you can see, the differences can be relatively big.
Is walking better than the gym for weight loss?
Many people start going to the gym when they get serious about losing weight. You may wonder if this is actually better than walking and to what extent.
The details depend on what you do at the gym and at what intensity. However, it is fair to say that going to the gym is generally better than walking for weight loss in terms of the calories you burn.
Using an elliptical machine, lifting weights, using a rowing machine, etc. all burn more energy than walking. Building some muscle can even offer more long-term results in this area too.
It is worth briefly mentioning that something like walking outside can also still be valuable. This can increase your vitamin D levels, improve your mood, help you get more sunlight, and can potentially have a calming effect.
Can you lose belly fat by walking?
Getting to a healthy weight offers many important health benefits but many people are also interested in losing the fat from specific areas like their bellies.
If that is the case for you, something important to note is that targeting fat loss in significant amounts is generally not possible.
At the same time, it is still worth mentioning that walking can still help you lose belly fat. You will just not only target this area specifically.
That means you have to lose enough weight overall.
Since walking is not the most effective in itself, many people will also have to make changes in areas like the things they eat to lose belly fat with this activity.
Where do you lose weight first when walking?
Wanting to know where walking will help you lose weight first is only natural.
Unfortunately, it is hard to say anything specific about this since it depends on personal details like your genes and how far you are in your weight loss journey.
People who have a lot of pounds to lose will likely notice fat loss from walking in places like their hands, face, and feet first.
After that, the results in the arms, chest, and lower legs are typically very noticeable.
Lastly, while there will likely already be a nice amount of progress in these areas too, the stomach, hips, and thighs tend to be the most challenging in terms of fat loss.
How much should you walk to lose weight?
If you are more familiar with how many calories body fat more or less contains, you can use the calorie-burning estimations of walking to estimate how much you do it to see results.
If not, you can check out the numbers below.
One important thing to note first is that how much you should walk to lose weight heavily depends on your habits in other lifestyle areas too.
That aside, if you temporarily assume the extra energy you burn with walking all comes from body fat, you can get some interesting estimations.
A 185-pound (84 kg) would have to walk 4 mph for about 159 minutes to burn 1000 calories or about 0.29 pounds (0.13 kg) of body fat.
To lose one pound (0.44 kg) of body weight (about 3500 calories), the same 185-pound person would have to walk 4 mph for about 556 minutes.
Similarly, how many steps you should do to lose weight depends on a variety of details.
The best time for walking to lose weight
More and more people are figuring out that what habits you implement is not always the only detail that influences your results. Your timing sometimes matters too.
You can argue that walking outside in the morning is important for regulating your circadian rhythms and improving sleep (1). In turn, this can benefit your weight loss.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning that the science about the differences between morning and evening workouts for weight loss is not entirely perfect (yet).
For now, the best time for walking to lose weight is one when you can stay consistent with your workout routine. Not missing workouts may be more important than the sunlight exposure.
Whether or not this will help you lose weight depends a lot on what your other lifestyle habits look like. That being said, if you are currently at a weight loss plateau, walking an extra 30 minutes every day should help you lose at least some weight for at least some amount of time.
How much weight you will actually lose with this routine depends a lot on your routine in other areas. That aside, a 155-pound (70 kg) person could burn an extra 700 calories by walking 2 hours in a day. This comes down to about 0.2 pounds (0.09 kg) of body fat.