Walking is an excellent form of exercise that can aid weight loss and provide other health benefits.
Still, compared with other forms of exercise, many people don’t view walking as effective or efficient for weight loss.
This article explains whether walking for an hour per day can help you lose weight.
- Calories burned
- Effects of walking
- Amount of weight loss
- Other benefits
- How to start
- How to stay motivated
How many calories do you burn while walking
The simplicity of walking makes it an appealing activity for many — particularly those looking to burn extra calories.
The number of calories you burn walking depends on numerous factors, especially your weight and walking speed.
For reference, an average walking pace is 3 mph (4.8 kph). The faster you walk and the more you weigh, the more calories you expend.
So if you are walking around 3 mph (4.8 kph) with a body weight of 180 pounds (82 kg), you will burn an average of 300 calories!
Other factors that influence the number of calories burned include terrain, outdoor/indoor temperature, and your age and sex.
Summary: The number of calories you burn walking depends mainly on your weight and walking speed. Walking faster allows you to burn more calories per hour.
Walking can help you lose weight
Walking for 1 hour each day can help you burn calories and, in turn, lose weight.
In one study, 11 moderate-weight women lost an average of 17 pounds (7.7 kg), or 10% of their initial body weight, after 6 months of brisk daily walking.
The women progressively increased their walking duration over the 6 months to reach a maximum of 1 hour per day but experienced little weight loss until they walked at least 30 minutes daily.
This result indicates that the time spent walking may be correlated with weight loss.
Another study noted that women with obesity who walked 3 days per week for 50–70 minutes lost about 6 pounds (2.7 kg) over 12 weeks, compared with women who didn’t walk.
Combined with your diet
While walking itself can help you lose weight, it’s much more effective when combined with a calorie-restricted diet.
In a 12-week study, people with obesity restricted calories by 500–800 per day. One group walked 3 hours per week at 3.7 mph (6 kph), while the other group didn’t walk.
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While both groups lost a significant amount of body weight, those in the walking group lost about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) more, on average, than those who didn’t walk.
Interestingly, weight loss may also be influenced by whether you walk continuously or in shorter bursts.
In a 24-week study, women with excess weight or obesity restricted their calorie intake by 500–600 per day and either walked briskly for 50 minutes per day or did two 25-minute bouts per day.
Those who did the two shorter workouts per day lost 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg) more than those who did 50 minutes of continuous walking.
Nonetheless, other studies show no significant differences in weight loss between continuous and intermittent walking.
Thus, you should choose whichever routine works best for you.
Summary: Multiple studies confirm that walking promotes weight loss, especially when combined with a low calorie diet.
How much weight can you lose by walking for 1 hour per day?
To lose weight, you must consistently eat fewer calories than you expend daily.
You can either increase the number of calories you burn via exercise like walking, decrease the number of calories you consume, or both.
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It’s often stated that 1 pound (0.45 kg) of body weight is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Based on this theory, you would need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 for 7 days to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg) per week.
Although this rule fails to account for people with lower body fat percentages, as well as the decrease in calorie expenditure that comes with weight loss, a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is appropriate for most people who want to lose weight.
Part of this deficit can be achieved by walking 1 hour per day, while you can also gradually decrease the number of calories you consume.
Depending on your calorie intake, a deficit of 500 calories per day may lead to 0.5–2 pounds (0.2–0.9 kg) of weight loss per week.
Summary: A 500-calorie deficit per day is sufficient for most people looking to lose weight. You can burn some of these calories by walking an hour per day.
Other health benefits of walking
Beyond weight loss, walking has several other benefits, especially when you walk multiple times per week for 30–60 minutes. These health effects include:
- decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol
- increased HDL (good) cholesterol
- improved mood
- decreased blood pressure
These benefits translate to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and overall mortality, as well as improved quality of life.
Moreover, an extra 30 minutes of walking, on top of your normal daily activity, is associated with less weight gain over time. This is noteworthy because adults tend to gain 1.1–2.2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per year.
Summary: Walking is associated with several health benefits beyond weight loss, including improved mood and quality of life, as well as a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
How to get started daily walking
Walking is an excellent form of exercise that most people can engage in.
If you want to walk daily for exercise, it’s important to start slowly and progressively increase your duration and intensity.
If you’re just starting, walking fast for a long time can leave you fatigued, sore, and unmotivated.
Instead, start by walking 10–15 minutes per day at a comfortable pace.
From there, you can increase your walking time by 10–15 minutes each week until you reach 1 hour per day or a different length of time that feels good for you.
After this, if desired, you can work on increasing your walking speed.
Summary: If you’re new to walking as an exercise, it’s important to build up your stamina by progressively increasing the duration and intensity of your walks.
How to stay motivated
As with any exercise regimen, it’s good to shake things up every so often to keep your routine engaging and challenging. Here are a few tips:
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- Modify your route. Walk on bike trails, in a different neighborhood, or at your local mall, or take the route you usually walk in reverse.
- Split up your walking time. If your goal is to walk 60 minutes per day, split this time into two 30-minute walks.
- Change your walking times. If you regularly walk in the morning, try evenings, or vice versa.
- Walk with a partner. Walking with a partner provides accountability and can keep you motivated.
- Listen to an audiobook or podcast. Keep yourself entertained by listening to an audiobook or your favorite podcast.
- Reward yourself. Reward yourself every once in a while with new walking shoes or attire.
As you lose weight, it’s also important to increase your walking intensity. That’s because your body needs fewer calories to perform the same physical activities at a lighter body weight than a heavier one.
For example, a 150-pound (68-kg) person burns nearly 50 fewer calories per hour walking 3 mph (4.8 kph) than a 180-pound (82-kg) person at the same speed.
While this may seem insignificant, 50 fewer calories per day amounts to 350 fewer calories burned per week.
By increasing your walking intensity, you can burn more calories. Try upping your pace or walking on steep hills, uneven terrain, or soft surfaces like sand or grass.
Although one of the benefits of walking for exercise is that it doesn’t require any special equipment, walking with handheld weights or a weighted vest can also boost the intensity.
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Summary: You can keep yourself motivated on longer walks by switching up your routine. As you begin to lose weight, increase your walking intensity or duration to avoid stalls in weight loss.
Walking is a great form of exercise, and walking for 1 hour each day may aid in weight loss and provide other health benefits.
It’s effective because it helps you increase the number of calories you burn.
At the same time, you’ll need to pay attention to your total calorie intake.
Remember to intensify your walking routine to progress toward your weight loss goal. Shaking up your regimen can also help you stay motivated.