If you've written off walking as a workout for weight loss, you should reconsider. The old-school advice to burn as many calories as you can in a workout is out. The new science is here: If you want to lose weight and keep it off, burning 500 calories at once on the treadmill is not the only way. Instead, create a small calorie deficit through your diet and increase activity in a way that's sustainable and doesn't leave you ravenous. Enter: walking.
While not as intense as the Peloton or a HIIT workout, research shows that walking is associated with weight loss, fat burn, improved mood and reduced risk of chronic diseases. And the best part is that it's free and can be done anywhere. All you need is a good pair of shoes.
Keep reading to learn how to walk off 10 pounds in just a few months.
Related: The Best Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Long Term, According to Experts
Can Walking Really Help You Lose Weight?
Short answer, yes! "Walking helps you lose weight by increasing your heart rate and burning calories. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will be in a calorie deficit, which will result in weight loss," says Tami Smith, ACE personal trainer and owner of Fit Healthy Momma.
One study found that, compared to those who maintained a sedentary lifestyle, people who walked 50 to 70 minutes per day, 3 days a week for 12 weeks burned more fat. Don't have time to walk for 60 consecutive minutes every day? You might be able to get the same, or better, results doing two shorter walks, according to a 2019 study in the journal Obesity. Those who did two 25-minute walks per day 6 days per week lost more weight and inches than those who did one 50-minute walk per day. Both followed the same calorie-controlled diet.
In a 2017 study in the Journal of Nutrition, one group of people followed a calorie-restricted diet, while the second group followed the same calorie-restricted diet but also walked 2.5 hours per week. Both groups lost weight, but the walking group lost more body fat compared to the group that followed a calorie-restricted diet without walking.
The most effective, sustainable plan for weight loss is one that combines dietary changes with exercise. But if you feel like you're doing pretty well in the eating department and still aren't getting the results you desire, it may be time to try the simple and free form of exercise known as walking.
How Long Does It Take to Walk Off 10 Pounds?
How much weight you can lose from walking depends on your current weight, diet and activity level. We recommend losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week for sustainable weight loss, which means you could potentially lose 10 pounds in five weeks. However, a more realistic timeline is 10 to 24 weeks, since most people don't have hours to devote to walking every day. Plus, a slower rate of weight loss means you can enjoy vacations and holidays and actually maintain your progress long-term.
How Many Calories Can You Burn Walking?
"Calorie burn from walking depends on several factors, including age, weight, sex, walking pace and difficulty of your walking course," says Alex Davis, co-creator of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. "Generally, 1 mile (or roughly 2,000 steps) walked equates to [burning] 80 to 100 calories." There are 3,500 calories in 1 pound. "This means to lose 1 pound, you'll need to walk roughly 35 miles or 70,000 steps. Over the course of a week, this means targeting 10,000 steps a day," says Davis. At this rate, you could lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks.
The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn. According to calculations by the American Council on Exercise, a 185-pound person walking at a brisk pace of 3.5 miles per hour will burn 318 calories in one hour, and a 155-pound person walking at 3.5 mph will burn 267 calories in an hour.
The faster you walk, the more calories you will burn, so pick up the pace to lose 10 pounds in a shorter amount of time.
This is how many calories a 155-pound person burns walking for one hour at different paces, according to the American Council on Exercise physical activity calculator:
2 mph (a stroll): 140 calories
3 mph (moderate pace): 232 calories
3.5 mph (brisk pace): 267 calories
4 mph (very brisk): 351 calories
5 mph (fast pace): 632 calories
young woman going for a walk outside
Credit: Getty Images / urbazon
Walking Plan to Lose 10 Pounds
The best walking plan for you will depend on your fitness level, how much you currently walk and your schedule. If you already walk 10,000 steps per day but aren't losing weight, you likely need to tweak your diet and increase the duration or intensity of your walks. Adding higher-intensity workouts and weight training a few times per week can help too.
If you currently walk 15 minutes per day but aren't seeing results, walk for 30 to 60 minutes. If you want to drop 10 pounds faster but don't have an hour to devote to walking every day, walk for 30 minutes at a very brisk pace and add intensity like hills or weights.
Here are two five-week walking plans—one for beginners and one for seasoned walkers, those already in the habit of walking every day. After five weeks, increase the duration, frequency and/or intensity of your walks to continue seeing results. Create a calorie deficit through your diet and add strength training two to three times per week to help burn fat while preserving muscle.
5-Week Beginner Walking Plan
Smith created this five-week walking plan for newbies. "If the person is starting from sedentary or very little structured walking, they will want to start out on the lighter side," she says, "Here's an example of a five-week walking routine progression for someone new to taking dedicated walks for workouts."
Week 1: Three 15-minute walks during the week with little to no incline and at a moderate pace of 2-3 mph. This should feel like a leisurely stroll, nothing intense.
Week 2: Three 20-minute walks with little to no incline and at a slightly elevated pace of 2.5-3.5 mph. This speed should feel as though you're walking with some urgency, but you're not in a rush.
Week 3: Three 30-minute walks with little to no incline and at that same slightly elevated pace (2.5-3.5 mph).
Week 4: Four 30-minute walks with some incline or hills added; your speed can stay on the higher end of the 2.5-3.5 mph range. The addition of some incline changes will begin to engage your muscles more and rev your heart rate and calorie burn.
Week 5: Five 30-minute walks with incline and hill intervals and at a speed ranging from 3.5-4.5 mph. This should be a purposeful power walk.
5-Week Intermediate Walking Plan
Brett Durney, co-founder, personal trainer and running coach at Fitness Lab, developed this walking plan best suited for those who already do some walking each day.
"At a high level, I'd always set 10,000 steps as a daily minimum target and often advise that this is broken down into three 20- to 30-minute purposeful walks," he says. "Ideally I try to get my clients closer to 15,000 steps per day over time and do this by increasing the walk session times by 1 minute per month over the course of five to six months."
Week 1: Three 15-minute walks, achieving roughly 7,500 steps per day
Week 2: Three 16-minute walks, achieving roughly 8,000 steps per day
Week 3: Three 17-minute walks, achieving roughly 8,500 steps per day
Week 4: Three 18-minute walks, achieving roughly 9,000 steps per day
Week 5: Three 20-minute walks, achieving roughly 10,000 steps per day
Ways to Increase the Burn
While these plans increase walking duration each week, walking 60 minutes per day at a brisk pace only burns 250 to 350 calories—not quite the 500-calorie-a-day deficit needed to lose 1 pound per week. Here are five ways to increase calorie burn without walking longer.
1. Pick up the pace
"Walking speed directly affects your calorie burn. Picking up your pace from a stroll (2 mph) to a moderate walk (3 mph) burns 33% more calories," says Davis.
2. Find hills
"Hill walks are great for your muscles. They activate your calf, glute and hamstring muscles even more than a flat walk, without any added risk of injury. In addition to increasing your heart rate and workload, hills also increase your calorie burn. On a treadmill, setting an intense incline of 18% can increase calorie burn even more," says Davis.
3. Listen to upbeat music
"One of my favorite ways to track and increase walking speed is by walking to music. On popular music apps like Spotify, you can even search for playlists that are 100 bpm (beats per minute) to upward of 180 bpm. Each week, try increasing your walking speed by listening to progressively faster songs," says Davis.
4. Take a hike
Hiking often involves walking on uneven terrain, which engages more muscle groups. The more muscle you build, the more calories you will burn both during the workout and afterward. Hiking uphill will boost calorie burn even more.
5. Try the Run-Walk Method
"The secret to keep burning calories is to not stop moving while you're doing the exercise. The run-walk method is a hack to increase the calories that you burn in the simplest way. It involves running for a short period of time, without extremely tiring yourself, and taking a 'break' by walking, and repeating this for the rest of the route. This helps you lessen your stress and exhaustion while doing the exercise, so you can do the routine for a longer time, burning more of your calories. What's good about this is it can be done even by beginners, since it takes no complex routine to reach your goal faster," says personal trainer and marathon runner Andrea Chapman.
The Bottom Line
Walking is a free and effective form of exercise for weight loss. When combined with dietary changes, you can lose 10 pounds in 10 to 24 weeks. Start with walking 10 to 15 minutes per day and work up to 30 to 60 minutes per day, depending on your fitness level and schedule. Increase speed and intensity to boost calorie burn, and consider doing two to three shorter walks each day versus one longer walk. For faster results, combine daily walks with two to four strength training sessions or high-intensity workouts per week.
Lose 10 Pounds with the No-Deprivation Diet
For maximum fat burn, aim for 30 minutes at power-walk intensity three days a week (see the walking plan on the next page). That time can be completed all at once, or you can break it up into spurts with recovery strides (stroll or brisk walk) in between.
Losing 10 pounds in a month is a very realistic goal. In fact, most dietitians will recommend that you make this your weight loss goal, because it allows you to lose weight at a healthy pace.How fast can you cut 10 pounds? ›
With that in mind, a weight loss of 10 pounds could take as little as five weeks or as much as 20 weeks (about five months). One factor could be your metabolism, or the number of calories your body burns in a unit of time.How Can I Lose 10 pounds Sensibly? ›
- of 25. Stay hydrated. ...
- of 25. Don't feel pressured to eat your entire meal. ...
- of 25. Go meatless—at least once a week. ...
- of 25. Eat wholesome foods. ...
- of 25. Get cooking. ...
- of 25. Use smaller plates. ...
- of 25. Limit distractions during meal time. ...
- of 25.
"This means to lose 1 pound, you'll need to walk roughly 35 miles or 70,000 steps. Over the course of a week, this means targeting 10,000 steps a day," says Davis. At this rate, you could lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks.How do I loosen 10 lbs in a week? ›
To lose 10 pounds in one week, you'll need to burn between 3,500 and 5,000 calories more than you consume each day by restricting your diet to small portions of nutritious yet low-calorie foods, and significantly increasing your aerobic exercise with interval training, sports, and other vigorous activities.How long is it realistic to lose 10 pounds? ›
But on average, you should lose 10 pounds in exactly 5-6 weeks for a healthier and more achievable estimate. This means that you lose around 2 pounds per week, which is in line with the CDC's recommendation for safe weight loss at a rate of 1–2 pounds per week, a sustainable goal.Does losing 10 pounds make a difference in appearance? ›
You'll drop a jeans size
You can drop a full clothing size by shedding 10 pounds. Be honest: That's the reason many people want to lose weight in the first place. We all want to look good in our clothes. "By the time you hit 10 pounds, your jeans will feel differently, absolutely," Blum says.
Most studies report that people who stick to the diet and exercise plan outlined below can drop the last 10 lbs in about 60 to 90 days. Reduce your sodium intake to 1,000 mg per day. Consume at least 80 ounces of water per day.Does drinking water help you lose weight? ›
Water can be really helpful for weight loss. It is 100% calorie-free, helps you burn more calories and may even suppress your appetite if consumed before meals. The benefits are even greater when you replace sugary beverages with water. It is a very easy way to cut back on sugar and calories.
Know the benefits
For example, regular brisk walking can help you: Maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat. Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Improve cardiovascular fitness.
- Learn to enjoy strength training. ...
- Team up. ...
- Sit less and move more. ...
- Bump up your protein intake. ...
- Talk to a dietitian. ...
- Cook more at home. ...
- Eat more produce. ...
- Hire a personal trainer.
When we lose a lot of weight, the body tries very hard to gain weight to get back to steady state. This is part of the reason the last 10 pounds are so hard to lose – while you are trying to lose more, the body is resisting and trying to put the weight back on by decreasing metabolism and increasing hunger.How many sizes do you lose with 10 pounds? ›
The rule of thumb, Fernstrom says, is that losing 8 to 10 pounds translates to going down one size.Where do you lose weight first when walking? ›
Research has found that men tend to lose more weight from their trunk area, while women lose more weight from their hips.How can I lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks by walking? ›
Start with walking 10 to 15 minutes per day and work up to 30 to 60 minutes per day, depending on your fitness level and schedule. Increase speed and intensity to boost calorie burn, and consider doing two to three shorter walks each day versus one longer walk.What is the best time to walk to lose weight? ›
The ideal time would be in the morning, before having your breakfast. At this time your body is already in a calorie deficit mode, and walking can ignite the body's ability to burn fat.Where do I start to lose 10 pounds? ›
- Try cardio for weight loss. ...
- Eat fewer refined carbs. ...
- Start counting calories. ...
- Choose better beverages. ...
- Eat slowly. ...
- Add fiber to your diet. ...
- Eat a high protein breakfast. ...
- Get enough sleep every night.
The most effective exercise to burn stomach fat is crunches. Crunches rank top when we talk of fat-burning exercises. You can start by lying down flat with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
Drinking at least 64 ounces (eight cups) of water every day may help with weight loss. Downing liquid is not the only way to meet this goal. About 20 percent of your hydration needs can be met through your diet, says Caroline Susie, RDN, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Phase -1 – GLYCOGEN DEPLETION. Glycogen Depletion: ...
- Phase -2 – FAT LOSS. This is the sweet spot for healthy weight loss. ...
- Phase -3 – PLATEAU. ...
- Phase -4 – METABOLIC RECOVERY. ...
- All the Phases of Weight Management:
- Eat every three to four hours throughout the day. If you've been sticking to three meals a day, try revving your metabolism by eating more often. ...
- Cut the carbs in the evening. Lots of people fill up on carbs at night. ...
- Limit carbs before cardio. ...
- Try interval training.
After losing only 10 pounds, your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels show measurable improvements. You can effectively lower your risk for obesity-related conditions like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes with only moderate weight loss.What does losing 10 pounds do to your face? ›
Your face skin might start sagging.
Premature drooping of the jawline (a.k.a. jowls) is one of the most common issues. When you drop pounds, you're also shedding the components that make your skin plump, like subcutaneous fat, collagen, and elastin, says Dr. Gohara.
“Your skin may not contract back to its smaller shape if weight is lost too quickly.” This inability for the skin to contract as well as it once would have, due to the weakening of the fibers over time, is what leads to excess or saggy skin during weight loss.How many pounds is a noticeable weight loss? ›
"Women and men of average height need to gain or lose about three and a half and four kilograms, or about eight and nine pounds, respectively, for anyone to see it in their face.What is the best way to lose 10 lbs quickly? ›
- Eat Healthy. Healthy eating is one of the best ways to aid weight loss. ...
- Control Your Portion Size. Paying attention to the portion of your meals is a great way to start your weight loss journey. ...
- Track your Meals. ...
- Stay Hydrated. ...
- Be Active.
During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is typical. In part, this is because when you initially cut calories, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen. Glycogen is a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and the liver.How many calories do I need to lose 10 pounds in a month? ›
Since a pound of fat contains around 3800 calories, losing ten pounds a month requires a caloric deficit of around 1200 calories a day.How to speed up metabolism? ›
- Exercise more. Add interval training to your cardio routine and burn more calories in less time. ...
- Weight train. Add muscle mass to your body and you can burn more calories at rest. ...
- Don't skip meals, especially breakfast. ...
- Eat fat-burning foods. ...
- Get a good night's sleep every night.
You should step on the scale first thing in the morning. That's when you'll get your most accurate weight because your body has had the overnight hours to digest and process whatever you ate and drank the day before.Is it better to walk faster or longer? ›
In a new study, which looks at activity tracker data from 78,500 people, walking at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes a day led to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia and death, compared with walking a similar number of steps but at a slower pace.What is a good distance to walk everyday? ›
Walking is a form of low impact, moderate intensity exercise that has a range of health benefits and few risks. As a result, the CDC recommend that most adults aim for 10,000 steps per day . For most people, this is the equivalent of about 8 kilometers, or 5 miles.How long does it take to see results from walking? ›
After 3-4 days of walking: you will notice the “better fit” or more room in your clothes! After 7 days of walking: real changes are happening! You have used body fat as energy (fat burning!) Muscles feel more toned!What happens if you walk everyday for a month? ›
7 Things That Happened When I Made Myself Go For A Walk Every Single Day For A Month. For a such simple, approachable activity, walking certainly does deliver some remarkable health benefits. Studies show that a daily brisk walk can help lower blood pressure, reduce belly fat, increase energy levels, and improve mood.Should you walk everyday or take a day off? ›
Typically, rest days aren't necessary for light cardio. This includes activities like leisurely walking or slow dancing. It's safe enough to do every day, unless your doctor says otherwise. But if you're doing moderate or vigorous aerobic activity, rest days are essential.What are the disadvantages of walking? ›
- Decreased performance.
- Elevated resting heart rate (RHR)
- Increased irritability.
- Loss of appetite and weight loss.
- Nagging, chronic injuries.
- Persistent fatigue.
- Persistent heavy, stiff, and sore muscles.
3,500 calories equals 1 pound of fat
“If all you do is walk briskly for 30 minutes, you've burned just 200 calories. Since 3,500 calories is a pound of fat, you'd need 17.5 days to lose one single pound.
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 ( 10 ).How can I walk off fat fast? ›
For the main set, alternate 2 minutes of walking at a moderate pace with 1 minute at the fastest walking pace you can tolerate. Open your stride, pump your arms and raise your heart rate as much as possible to burn the most calories. Alternate the 2 minutes easy, 1 minute hard for 20 minutes.
Physical activity, such as walking, is important for weight control because it helps you burn calories. If you add 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine, you could burn about 150 more calories a day. Of course, the more you walk and the quicker your pace, the more calories you'll burn.How long does it take a woman to lose 10 pounds? ›
But on average, you should lose 10 pounds in exactly 5-6 weeks for a healthier and more achievable estimate. This means that you lose around 2 pounds per week, which is in line with the CDC's recommendation for safe weight loss at a rate of 1–2 pounds per week, a sustainable goal.How many miles do you have to walk a day to lose a pound? ›
"Generally, 1 mile (or roughly 2,000 steps) walked equates to [burning] 80 to 100 calories." There are 3,500 calories in 1 pound. "This means to lose 1 pound, you'll need to walk roughly 35 miles or 70,000 steps. Over the course of a week, this means targeting 10,000 steps a day," says Davis.How many minutes do I need to walk to lose 10 pounds? ›
At a moderate pace, the average person can walk those 7,800 steps in about an hour and 18 minutes. That's the time commitment required every day to lose ten pounds by summer.How soon will I see results from walking? ›
After 3-4 days of walking: you will notice the “better fit” or more room in your clothes! After 7 days of walking: real changes are happening! You have used body fat as energy (fat burning!) Muscles feel more toned!What is the best exercise for overhang belly? ›
Cardio such as swimming, aerobics, running or dancing will burn this excess fat store. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is the fastest way to trim down stomach fat.What exercise burns most belly fat? ›
The most effective exercise to burn stomach fat is crunches. Crunches rank top when we talk of fat-burning exercises. You can start by lying down flat with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Lift your hands and then place them behind the head.
Simply walking more often can help you lose weight and belly fat, as well as provide other excellent health benefits, including a decreased risk of disease and improved mood. In fact, walking just one mile burns about 100 calories.Is walking 60 minutes a day enough exercise? ›
The short answer is yes. “Walking is just as good as any other form of exercise,” says University Hospitals pediatric sports medicine specialist Laura Goldberg, MD. “The guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week.Can you lose inches by walking? ›
Studies show walking is one of the best ways to shed belly fat, in less time than you think. Researchers reviewed 40 years of studies on exercise and belly fat and found that just 2 1/2 hours of brisk walking a week--about 20 minutes a day--can shrink your belly by about 1 inch in 4 weeks.