Here's How Far You Need to Walk Every Day to Lose Weight

Walking for weight loss is entirely possible. Here's how to do it.

Two senior African American women getting in shape together. They are jogging or power walking on a sidewalk in a residential neighborhood, talking and laughing.
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There's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to weight loss. Each person's slim-down strategy needs to be catered to their body, their goals, and their lifestyle. However, whether you're looking to shed 10 pounds or 100 pounds, one activity you should definitely incorporate into your routine is walking. It's easy, it's effective, and it doesn't even require a gym membership. So, here's the question: When it comes to walking for weight loss, how far should you be walking every day?

The answer to this question largely depends on factors like your age and your fitness level. Generally speaking, people who are at the beginning of their fitness journey can start by walking less. If you fall into this category and you're looking to shed some pounds, then you should aim to walk around 5 miles a day. In one 2016 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy, Thai researchers found that overweight individuals who walked around 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) per day were able to lose approximately 3.4 pounds in 12 weeks.

If you're already pretty active, however, then 5 miles isn't going to cut it. In 2008, researchers studied more than 3,000 healthy adults for a paper published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health, and concluded that women between the ages of 18 and 40 need to walk 12,000 steps per day (about 6 miles) for weight loss. Men, meanwhile, should keep walking this far until the age of 50, and after that they can take it down to 11,000 steps (about 5.5 miles). Women between the ages of 40 and 50 should also aim for 11,000 steps per day.

When you start walking for weight loss, keep in mind that physical activity alone is usually not enough to shed pounds. You also need to pay attention to your diet: In one 2012 study published in the journal Obesity, subjects lost an average of 10.8 percent body fat with diet and exercise compared to 2.4 percent body fat with exercise alone after 12 months.

Another good thing to keep in mind is that not all walking is created equal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans notes that adults need either 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. (Of course, you can certainly do more!) Brisk walking is a type of moderate-intensity exercise, while climbing up a hill or jogging is considered vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.

At the end of the day, any type of physical activity is going to aid your weight loss efforts. Whenever you have the opportunity to walk somewhere, take advantage of it: Regardless of how much weight you lose, your body will thank you.

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