How Long Should You Walk to Lose Weight?

Walking for Weight Loss and to Burn Fat

Woman walking dog in Arboretum, Seattle, Washington
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When you want to lose weight, many diet programs and health experts recommend brisk walking as a calorie-burning exercise. But what is the right amount of walking each day to help you achieve your weight loss goals? Is any amount of walking good, or is it better to walk for a certain amount of time? Here are the rules of thumb to get the most benefits from walking for weight loss.

How Long to Walk Each Day for Weight Loss

Aim for a brisk walk of 30 to 90 minutes most days of the week for weight loss.

While you can break up your walking time into periods of 10 minutes or longer, you get an added benefit of burning fat when you walk for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

During the first 30 minutes of exercise, your body is burning sugars stored as fuel. These are burned up after about 30 minutes. To keep going, your body releases fat from your fat cells and burns it for fuel. This stored fat is exactly what you want to lose.

By walking for 30 minutes or more at a time, you will be burning some stored fat. Walk most days of the week for at least 30 minutes to burn an extra 1000 to 3000 calories per week and to improve your metabolism each day. See a suggested walking workout schedule for weight loss

Weight Loss Walking Workout

  • A walking workout of 30 to 60 minutes at 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate is recommended for walking for weight loss. Use the target heart rate chart to find the right heart rate, which varies by age.
  • Start with walking at an easy pace for five to 10 minutes.
  • Stop and do some stretches and flexibility exercises.
  • Walk at a brisk pace at your target heart rate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Cool down at a slower pace for 5 minutes.
  • Finish with some gentle stretches.
  • For longer walks, walk for 30 to 60 minutes at your target heart rate and slow a bit to complete 90 or 120 minutes at a comfortable pace.

What If You Can't Walk for 30 Minutes?

  • Start with the beginners walking tutorial or the 30-day Quick Start Walking Plan to build up your time and endurance.
  • If your schedule doesn't permit walking continuously for 30 minutes, break it up into walking two or three times a day for shorter periods of at least 10 minutes at a brisk pace. Always warm up for 5 minutes at an easy pace no matter what duration you will be walking.
  • Maximize your 15-minute walk with these tips

How Far Can You Walk in 30 Minutes?

If you walk at a brisk walking pace for 30 minutes, the distance you will cover would be 1.5 to 2 miles. In kilometers, that is 2.5 to 3.3 kilometers. In pedometer steps, it is 3000 to 4500 steps.

How Long Should You Walk Each Week?

  • For weight loss, it is recommended that you walk most days of the week. You should walk five days per week at a minimum. If you can walk every day, that is even better.
  • Try not to skip more than one day in a row. Consistency is good for burning calories and improving your metabolism, as well as for building new habits.
  • Your total time spent walking per week should be five to 10 hours.
  • On your non-walking days, try some strength training exercises.
  • If you find yourself worn out, take a day off. But be sure to get back walking the following day.

How to Keep Weight Off

The CDC recommends that to maintain weight loss you should spend 60 to 90 minutes most days of week in moderate-intensity physical activity while not eating more calories than you expend all day.

Sources:

American Heart Association. Losing weight. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/WeightManagement/LosingWeight/Losing-Weight_UCM_307904_Article.jsp#.WKD9bX-AmW4.  

CDC. Getting started with physical activity for a healthy weight. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/getting_started.html.

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