When it comes to movement, even small amounts of walking can have big benefits. Just five minutes can help you counteract the adverse effects of too much sitting, while 10 minutes a day has been shown to lower the risk of osteoporosis. For weight loss, 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise per week is the gold standard, which means 30 minutes of walking should help you shed pounds.
“You don’t have to drastically cut calories or run a marathon every day to lose weight,” says Maggie Winzeler, an exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer based in Richmond, Virginia. “In fact, those who resort to more extreme measures often regain weight once they burn out or injure themselves in the process, bringing the whole ordeal back to square one.”
Instead, lower-intensity exercise like walking 30 minutes per day can help you drop weight, provided you remain consistent and have a small calorie deficit. Unlike higher-intensity workouts like running or HIIT, “low-intensity exercises like walking don’t overstimulate the appetite, so you’re less likely to feel overly hungry and tempted to veer off your healthy eating plan,” says Molly Zemek, a certified weight-loss coach based in Mclean, Virginia.
If you walk briskly for 30 minutes, you’ll burn about 150 calories. Do that every day for a week, and you’ll burn 1,050 calories. You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound, so it would take about 3 weeks to lose a pound solely from a 30-minute daily walking habit. Over a year, you could lose about 15 pounds.
READ MORE > WHY WALKING IS YOUR KEY TO LOSING WEIGHT AND KEEPING IT OFF
Walking is accessible to nearly everyone, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned enough to incorporate high-speed intervals. “Walking helps you stay active and relieve stress, which is also important when you are trying to lose weight,” says Zemek.
“We live in a culture where we desire and demand results quickly, but pacing things out often offers longer-lasting rewards,” says Winzeler. If you’re intrigued by the idea of losing weight by walking for 30 minutes a day, try combining a daily walk with these habits for more impressive weight-loss results over time:
- Shave calories from your diet.
“Since nutrition accounts for a large portion of your results, focusing on your calorie intake and ensuring you’re in a deficit will drive your weight loss,” says Allison Jackson, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. You don’t need to overhaul your diet at once. Instead, try skipping the equivalent of one snack per day. “Even just 150 fewer calories of food a day, combined with 200 calories burned from exercise, can result in weight loss of almost 3 pounds per month,” says Winzeler. “This demonstrates the powerful potential of small and consistent changes in our eating and exercise habits.”
- Make your walks more challenging.
You may burn more calories if you intensify your 30-minute walks. “Walking up stairs and hills, wearing a weighted vest or increasing the pace are all ways to increase the calorie burn,” says Summer Yule, MS, RDN. “[Try] doing intervals – interspersing fast walking and slower walking,” Jackson says, “[or] adding some spurts of high-intensity interval training, like jumping jacks or jump squats, to ensure you’re constantly pushing yourself and keeping your body guessing.”
- Stay active in other ways.
Consider adding another form of exercise to your schedule twice a week, like strength training, yoga, Pilates or cycling. “Just 15 minutes of strength training before or after a walk can keep the body energy-efficient and help you build muscle,” says Winzeler.
You’ll also be more successful with weight loss if you’re active even when you aren’t exercising. “Making sure you get enough NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis – will add to your calorie-burn level,” says Jackson. “NEAT includes things like cleaning, gardening or parking farther away at the grocery store — any movement outside of your regular workouts.”
Make progress every day while you work on fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.