How Fast to Walk for Weight Loss

Find the Fat-Burning Pace to Lose Weight

Austria, Alps, Woman holding ski pole walking, side view
Westend61/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

When you want to walk off weight, it's best to walk at a brisk pace. Here's how to know if you are in the right zone for burning the most fat, and how to build up to that level.

Start With an Easy Walking Pace to Warm-Up

First, you want to wake up your muscles and let them know you plan to be active for awhile. Walking at an easy warm-up pace for five to 10 minutes tells your muscles they can't just sit back and burn up the available sugars, they need to call on the fat reserves.

This is why you should not start off at a high speed. When you do that, your cells don't get the signal that this is a long-term activity. So instead of pulling fat out of storage to burn as energy, they burn up sugars only.

Speed Up to a Determined Walking Pace to Burn Fat

The speed to walk for optimal fat-burning is a "determined" pace, or a "brisk walking pace."

  • At this rate, you should be breathing noticeably but able to carry on a conversation in full sentences.
  • Heart rate target should be 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Target Heart Rate Calculator
  • How should it feel? It should feel as intense as when you are walking fast because you are 10 minutes late for an important appointment. That is how Marilyn L. Bach describes it in her book "Shapewalking."
    More: What is a Brisk Walking Pace?
  • Walk at this speed for 30 minutes at a time after your warm up to ensure you are dipping into your stored fat.

Raising your Metabolism

Good work, you've tricked your body into dipping into your fat stores for energy. You are also building muscle and raising your basal metabolic rate so you are burning more calories all day long.

But What If I Can't Walk That Much?

Start with the beginners walking plan. It will get you started the right way to build up to being able to walk for 30 minutes at the fat-burning pace. It also tells when to seek medical advice and how to avoid injury. Any amount of activity over your present level will help you achieve your weight loss goals, so go slow if that is what is comfortable.

But What If I Don't Have the Time to Walk for That Long?

If you just don't have enough free time in the day to spend 45 continuous minutes walking, then make the most of the time you have. Find the time to get in two to four 15 minute walks at a brisk pace every day. You will be burning calories and building your walking speed and ability and at least achieving the minimum recommended physical activity level for health.

Walking Faster and Faster

If you are already walking 20 miles total per week and want to get more results purely from walking, then you need to build speed as well as duration. You can use good arm motion and stride to speed up, as shown in our How to Walk Faster Tutorial. Or you can learn the Olympic racewalking technique to burn more calories per mile.

    Pace and Calorie Calculators

    Walking Off Weight

    Continue Reading