While many of us struggle to lose weight, dropping those extra pounds really comes down to one thing: burning more calories than you take in. Getting more physical exercise is one of the best ways to get moving on your weight loss journey. And if you’re one of the many of us who’s counting your steps each day in hopes of inspiring yourself to be more active, you’re in luck. Experts say that walking is the perfect activity to take up if you’re not into strenuous workouts, and it benefits both your physical and mental health. But how much walking do you really need to do in order to lose weight?
Taking Steps Toward a Healthier You
Of course, how quickly you lose weight is going to depend on multiple factors like your age, gender, height, genetic composition, and lifestyle habits. However, walking can still help anyone burn more calories and contribute positively to your weight loss goals.
According to fitness experts and some promising research, taking at least 10,000 steps per day can help you lose weight. In a 2021 article in SheFinds, personal trainer Ashlee Van Buskirk told the publication, “If you really want to lose weight or body fat through walking at a moderate pace, then you should aim for around 10,000 to 12,500 steps per day. That amount of daily activity paired with a nutrient-dense diet will set you up for continued success on your weight loss journey.”
Research backs her up. In a 2016 study, 35 overweight adults were assigned a 12-week pedometer-based walking program. Researchers measured and recorded the participants’ mood states, BMI, waist circumference, body fat percentage, and lean body mass before and after the 12-week intervention. The number of steps each person took per day was recorded five days a week in a diary. Results of the study indicated that those who took at least 10,000 steps per day had lower weight, BMI, and body fat percentage by the end of the program. Not only that, but they also demonstrated higher lean body mass and improvements in their mental health, showing less depression, fatigue, confusion, and total mood distress.
Taking 10,000 steps every day — which equals around 5 miles — may seem like a lot, but those steps don’t all have to come in the form of a dedicated walk. You can easily add extra steps into your routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from your job or home, or opting to walk instead of drive to places that aren’t too far away from your home.
And when it comes to shedding pounds, you can up your walking game in a few ways, too. Try listening to upbeat tunes, which will encourage you to walk a little faster. Taking shorter strides can also help you use more energy and thus, burn more calories. “An elevated or brisk pace will increase your heart rate and help you burn more calories. Walking uphill will also add another layer to your walking workouts and contribute to greater weight loss too,” Van Buskirk says. She also emphasizes the importance of eating a healthy, nutrient-dense diet as well as sleeping well and keeping your stress levels in check.
So if you’re on a weight loss journey and high intensity workouts aren’t your thing, set your fitness tracker step goal to 10,000 a day. If possible, take a hilly scenic route or move those legs a little faster, and you’ll be well on your way to meeting all your health goals.