Walking is an exercise that is accessible for many people and requires no special equipment. It not only contributes to weight loss but also provides other health perks.
Walking can aid weight loss and provide many other health benefits. However, compared with other forms of exercise, many people typically may not view walking as effective for weight loss.
This article explains how walking for 1 hour per day can help you lose weight. Here’s how to get started.
Walking’s simplicity makes it an appealing activity for many people — particularly those looking to burn extra calories.
The number of calories you burn walking depends on numerous factors, but your weight and walking speed play a key role. The average walking pace for adults is 3 mph (4.8 kph). The faster you walk and the more you weigh, the more calories you expend (1).
This table estimates the number of calories you can burn per hour based on your body weight and walking speed (1):
|2.0 mph (3.2 kph)||3.0 mph (4.8 kph)||3.5 mph (5.6 kph)||4.0 mph (6.4 kph)||5.0 mph (8.0) kph)|
|120 lbs. (55 kg)||108||179||206||272||489|
|150 lbs. (68 kg)||136||224||258||340||612|
|180 lbs. (82 kg)||164||270||311||410||738|
|210 lbs. (95 kg)||190||314||361||476||857|
|240 lbs. (109 kg)||217||359||413||544||979|
|270 lbs. (123 kg)||244||404||465||612||1102|
|300 lbs. (136 kg)||272||449||517||680||1224|
Other factors that influence the number of calories you burn include terrain, climate, and your age and sex (
The number of calories you burn walking depends mainly on your weight and walking speed. Walking faster burns more calories per hour.
Walking 1 hour each day can help you burn calories and, in turn, lose weight.
If you’d like to lose a substantial amount of weight (more than 5% of your body weight), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 300 minutes of moderately intense physical activity weekly. Walking for 1 hour daily may help you meet that goal (
Additionally, many people tend to lose lean muscle mass when they lose weight. Walking can help you preserve lean muscle mass, which can help you maintain your weight loss results (
Factor in your diet
While walking can help you lose weight, it’s more effective when also following 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), and the other group did not walk (
Both groups lost a significant amount of body weight, but those in the walking group lost, on average, about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) more than those who didn’t walk (
Whether you walk continuously or in shorter bursts might also influence weight loss.
In a 24-week study, women with excess weight or obesity restricted their calorie intake by 500–600 calories per day and either walked briskly for 50 minutes or did two 25-minute bouts per day. Those who did the two shorter workouts lost 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg) more than those who continuously walked for 50 minutes (
But other studies show no significant differences in weight loss between continuous and intermittent walking, so choose whichever routine works best for you (
Multiple studies confirm that walking promotes weight loss, especially when combined with a low calorie diet.
To lose weight, you must consistently eat fewer calories than you expend each day.
You can do this by increasing the calories you burn via exercise, decreasing the calories you consume, or both.
It’s often stated that 1 pound (0.45 kg) of body weight is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Based on this theory, you should reduce your calorie intake by 500 for 7 days to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg) per week.
Although this rule does not account for people with lower body fat percentages or the decrease in calorie expenditure that comes with weight loss, a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is appropriate for most people aiming to lose weight (
You can achieve part of this deficit by walking 1 hour per day or by gradually decreasing 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 (
A 500-calorie deficit per day is sufficient for most people to lose weight. You can burn some of these calories by walking for one hour daily.
Walking has many benefits, especially when you walk multiple times per week for 30–60 minutes at a time. These health effects can 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, walking at least 150 minutes a week (about 22 minutes a day) along with your other daily activity can help maintain your current weight. This is noteworthy because adults tend to gain 1.1–1.8 pounds (0.5–0.8 kg) per year (
Walking is associated with several health benefits, including improved mood and quality of life and a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
If you want to walk daily for exercise, start slowly, and progressively increase your duration and frequency. Once you can walk as long and as frequently as you’d like, you can increase the intensity (
If you’re just starting, walking fast for a long time can leave you fatigued, sore, and unmotivated. Instead, you may want to start by walking for 5–15 minutes 2 or 3 times a week at a comfortable pace.
When you are ready to increase your walking duration, frequency, or intensity, consider your age, fitness level, and prior experience. Youth and young adults can typically increase their activity in small amounts every week, while older adults can typically increase their activity every 2 to 4 weeks to prevent injury (
People who typically have a low activity level might consider increasing their activity at a slower rate to reduce injury risk. Also, consider whether your past fitness experiences have shown that certain progression rates make you susceptible to injury (
If you’re new to walking as an exercise, you can build stamina by progressively increasing your walks’ duration and intensity.
As with any exercise regimen, shake things up every so often to keep your routine engaging and challenging. Here are a few tips:
- Modify your route: Walk on bike trails, in a different neighborhood or at your local mall, or take your usual route in reverse.
- Split up your walking time: If your goal is to walk 60 minutes per day, you can 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: Entertain yourself by listening to an audiobook or your favorite podcast.
- Reward yourself: Occasionally reward yourself with new walking shoes or attire.
If your goal is to lose weight, it’s also important to increase your walking intensity. Your body burns 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 at 3 mph (4.8 kph) than a 180-pound (82-kg) person walking at the same speed (1).
While it might seem insignificant, 50 calories burned per day amounts to 350 fewer calories burned per week.
Increasing the intensity of your workout can help you burn more calories. Try upping your pace or walking on an incline (1).
Walking with handheld weights or a weighted vest can also boost the intensity (
Stay motivated on longer walks by switching up your routine. As you begin to lose weight, increase your walking intensity or duration to avoid weight loss plateaus.
How quickly you will see weight loss depends on numerous factors, including your walking speed, duration, intensity, and frequency. Your weight and diet also contribute to weight loss results (1).
For example, walking quickly through hilly terrain several days a week while following a reduced-calorie diet will deliver results more quickly than walking slowly on level ground once a week.
Most adults should aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity daily. If you are just beginning to incorporate walking into your exercise regimen, you may need to work up to this amount to prevent injury (
Walking every day is good for your body in many ways. It not only contributes to weight loss and management, but it lowers your risk of heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, several cancer types, and mortality. It also improves sleep, cognition, and mental health (
Walking is a great form of exercise, and doing so for 1 hour each day may aid in weight loss and provide other health benefits.
Walking is an effective way to lose weight because it helps you burn more calories, especially when you monitor your calorie intake.
Intensify your walking routine to progress toward your weight loss goal. Shaking up your regimen can help you stay motivated.
Just one thing
Try this today: Take a look at your schedule and determine how you can begin to incorporate walking into your daily routine.