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25 Pro Tips for Walking to Lose Weight

Up your walking game to shed extra pounds with these simple tips.

Walking is a favorite form of exercise for many people, and it's easy to see why. You can seamlessly fit it into your daily routine, walk to the beat of your favorite tunes, or do it while catching up with a good friend (or even a group). Just think about it—you don't need a pricey gym membership to start walking and probably have some great routes just waiting to be explored right outside your front door. We spoke with fitness pros who share the best tips on how you can up your walking game to shed extra pounds. So if you're walking to lose weight, you'll want to listen up!

Getting steps in each day is an excellent way to burn calories. As a matter of fact, engaging in regular physical activity like going on walks is key to maintaining a healthy weight. "Walking is beneficial because it adds to the overall daily calorie expenditure, which will eventually add to weight loss," explains April Gatlin, master coach for STRIDE Fitness. "Walking is also beneficial because it can be done by anyone with minimal equipment!"

If you're a newbie to the walking game, don't fret. Feel free to kickstart your journey with some short walks at a light intensity. You can gradually increase the lengths and intensity of your walks as you progress.

Now without further delay, let's see what the experts have to say about tips for walking to lose weight. With a great pair of walking shoes, you can start your weight loss journey pronto. Read on to learn more, and when you're finished, be sure to check out I Tried 4 Pairs of HOKA Sneakers & One Beats the Rest By a Mile.

Be consistent.

woman taking brisk walk

As you're working your way toward your weight-loss goal, keep in mind that consistency is key. This includes all aspects of your regimen, from diet to exercise. "Consistency is the only way you will see progress towards the weight loss goal," Gatlin tells us. So do whatever you need to do to carve out some time during your day to head out on an invigorating walk—no excuses!

Use technology to stay on track.

close-up woman checking her watch fitness tracker as she's walking for weight loss

Wearable tech is an excellent way to track your progress, motivate yourself, and hold yourself accountable. Whether you invest in a WHOOP, Fitbit, Apple Watch, or Garmin, or use a walking app/fitness tracker on your phone, this is a smart addition to your daily fitness regimen.

Get uncomfortable.

walking workout

Gatlin encourages you to get a little bit "uncomfortable." This doesn't mean pushing yourself to the max when you're just starting out, but rather, when you feel you're ready, pick up the pace! "Your pace should be quick (not just a leisurely stroll-in-the-park) where the heart rate is elevated," she says.

Vary the terrain you walk on.

man hiking, lead an incredibly healthy life

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, suggests varying the terrain you walk on. Doing your walks on a flat, paved surface is all well and good. But to give your body more of a challenge and promote weight loss, consider switching up the terrain.

"Anywhere you can go that has rolling hills (or even steep hills) can increase your calorie burn," Dr. Bohl says. "And walking on some surfaces, like sand, can also take extra effort and burn more calories."

Tyler Read, the founder of and a personal trainer who has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years, agrees that opting for a trail over flat pavement is a solid course of action. "Trails require more stabilizer muscles and generally are more energy demanding," he explains.

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Switch up your walking speed.

woman power walking by the beach, concept of walking to lose weight

The faster you walk, the greater amount of calories your body will torch, Dr. Bohl explains. So consider adding in bursts of greater speed if you want to lose weight while walking. "If you can throw in a few minutes of jogging, that's even better—but just varying your walking speed will also have an effect," he says.

Read suggests alternating one minute of powerwalking with another minute of slow-tempo walking. "You can turn your walks into interval training sessions by alternating higher and lower intensity, increasing caloric expenditure," he says.

Incorporate a weighted backpack.

weighted backpack walk, concept of ways to walk to lose weight

Have you considered "rucking," or adding a weighted backpack, to your routine? "Rucking is an activity that involves walking or hiking with a weighted backpack," Dr. Bohl explains. "As you get more used to it, you can continue to add more weight to increase your burn on future walks."

Engage your arms.

woman outdoors doing power walking workout for rapid weight loss

Sure, your legs are doing most of the work when you're walking, but don't forget to engage your arms!

"Pumping your arms while walking may not pay the highest returns on calorie burn, but any amount of motion you're able to add in does do something," Dr. Bohl says. "So if you're just looking to burn a few more calories each walk, swing those arms."

Recruit a walking buddy.

two mature female friends walking to burn body fat everywhere

Recruiting a friend who shares the same common goal of walking for weight loss will serve as motivation and hold you accountable. Plus, it will be fun catch-up time.

"Walking with a friend—on its own—might not cause you to burn more calories, but it is a good way to make sure you actually go on your walk," Dr. Bohl says. "Having a social component to your walk can make it more enjoyable, and having the responsibility to a walking partner of actually going on a walk each day is a good way to make sure you don't skip a walk in exchange for less healthy behavior."

Establish a goal.

woman keeping track of fitness and weight loss goals in journal, concept of how to lose your large belly through establishing goals

It's always a smart idea to go into a weight loss journey with an end goal, along with small goals along the way.

"Like walking with a friend, setting a goal won't necessarily increase the number of calories you burn while walking, but it will motivate you to actually achieve a certain amount of steps each day. This way, you're less likely to skip walking for some other activity, like watching TV," Dr. Bohl explains.

Take the stairs.

closeup woman's feet, hot pink sneakers walking up steps, exercising

This weight loss tip doesn't only need to be part of your walking workout—you can incorporate this into your day, whenever possible. Read suggests always opting for the stairs over the elevator or escalator, whether you're running errands or heading up to your apartment.

Plus, taking the stairs is chock-full of benefits. In addition to helping you preserve a healthy weight, stair climbing will boost your leg power and may lower your chances of suffering from falls as you get older, according to Duke University. Working stairs into your day also promotes healthy joints, bones, and muscles.

Raise your knees 70 to 80 degrees with each step.

man walking doing high knees

"Raising your knees higher increases the demand of walking," Read tells us. Similar to high knees, you'll engage your entire lower body and core, helping you expend energy and work up a sweat. It's a simple but effective tweak to make in your routine.

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Add farmer's carries or other handheld resistance.

group of active people using dumbbells during walking workout outside

Performing 'farmer's carries,' holding lightweight dumbbells, or even wearing ankle weights are stellar ways to increase the calorie-torching and build strength while walking. "Adding more weight to your body is another effective way to burn more calories while walking," Dr. Bohl confirms.

In order to complete farmer's carries as Read suggests, you'll hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand, with your arms by your sides. Walk forward with the weights while maintaining good posture. Keep your strides quick and short.

Take shorter, more frequent walks.

happy middle-aged woman walking outdoors

Another solid habit to get into if you're walking to lose weight is to take shorter, more frequent walks. "Frequent, shorter walks can help increase total distance, average speed, and caloric expenditure for the same amount of walking since you are more recovered for each short walk," Read says.

Focus on hills or walking at an incline.

woman doing walking workout uphill on street with sunlight coming through trees

You may not be all too surprised to hear that adding hills to your workout or walking at an incline on a treadmill will help you burn more calories. Plus, it'll sculpt muscle and strengthen your legs at the same time.

Utilizing the incline feature on a treadmill will give you the same effect as walking up a hill. Your body puts in more work than if you were to get in your strides at a slower pace. Setting the incline to 2% or greater helps you torch more calories than walking on level ground.

Walk at an intensity where the conversation becomes difficult.

active senior couple walking outdoors in the summertime on trail, demonstrating benefits of exercise one hour a week

When it comes to the intensity of your walks, Read suggests completing a "talk test." This is a super productive way to assess if you need to intensify your routine and determine whether you're maintaining a solid weight loss pace. So the next time you're chatting with your walking buddy or buddies, aim for an intensity where keeping up a conversation becomes difficult.

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Take walking breaks throughout the workday.

time to walk reminder

If you don't already have an established walking routine, it may seem like a daunting task to tackle all at once, says Tonal coach Tim Landicho. So take it in small steps—pun intended! You'll be doing yourself a favor by setting reminders on your phone throughout the day to take a break from your laptop and head outdoors or to the treadmill.

"Breaking up your day into smaller chunks (say, 10 to 15 minutes at a time) is a great way to gradually increase your daily steps in a manageable way while giving your body and mind frequent breaks so that you can return to your work with more energy and sharper focus," Landicho adds.

Keep in mind that walking is the ultimate antidote for sore legs.

close-up man touching his sore leg while out on a walk

Just because your legs may be sore, don't let that veer you off course from your weight loss progress!

"A common misconception is that when you're sore, you should rest completely (think: lounging on the couch and not doing any activity)," Landicho explains. "If you're already strength training and find yourself sore the day after a tough session, walking is a great way to facilitate recovery. By pumping blood to the muscles in a low-impact way, you flush out what's causing the soreness in the first place and allow nutrients to be delivered to those sore muscles."

Incorporate strength training into your routine.

fit woman does lunges during walking workout on the road to burn more belly fat

If you're not already working strength training into your regular fitness routine, it's the ultimate complement to walking for "boosting your fat loss efforts," Landicho says.

"Not only does it keep calories burning even after you're done training, but it also preserves your lean muscle to ensure that the weight you're losing is fat. Even just two times a week will give you tremendous benefits if you're not already doing so. And if you're nervous about going to the gym or don't know what to do or how to do it properly, Tonal can knock these barriers down and be your best friend," he adds.

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Stream an audiobook or podcast while you walk.

older man walking headphones

Many individuals enjoy listening to music while they exercise, but streaming a good audiobook or juicy podcast is an excellent way to "get your learn on," Landicho points out. Plus, it will help you walk for a longer period of time, increasing the number of calories you burn. So if there's a certain topic you're intrigued by, use your walking time to explore it more.

Rev up your protein intake.

casein protein shake with powder next to it

Along with strength training, bumping up the amount of protein you consume will help you sculpt and preserve muscle.

"Ultimately, [this] aids in increasing your resting metabolism," Landicho says. "A good rule of thumb is to have one to two palm-sized portions of protein-rich food at each meal."

Increase your consumption of fruits and veggies.

close-up of woman's hand holding green apple

Fitness and healthy eating go hand in hand. When you're walking to lose weight, revving up your intake of fruits and veggies is a solid way to decrease cravings and boost your levels of satisfaction. These are both incredibly common roadblocks when dieting to lose weight, Landicho explains. He suggests, "A good rule of thumb is to have at least five servings of fruits and veggies per day."

Make small incremental increases.

man walking getting exercise outdoors near tropical beach

You've likely heard the saying "slow and steady wins the race," and it certainly applies to walking for weight loss.

"If you're already in a walking routine and are looking to increase your steps, small incremental increases are the way to go," Landicho says. "Adding just 10 minutes at a time can add ~1000 steps without feeling overwhelming, which can make a massive difference over the course of a few months."

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Try walking meditation.

woman walking on sandy beach getting exercise

If you're looking to calm your racing mind and relieve any stress from the day, Landicho recommends trying walking meditation.

"Not only do you get more bang for your buck by reducing stress while increasing your activity levels, but you also increase your ability to stay mindful and present throughout your day, which can have a direct transfer to helping you manage your cravings and develop a healthier relationship with food," he says.

Time your walks with the sunrise or the sunset.

sunset walkers

Consider timing your walks with the sunrise or the sunset—or both. "[This] is one of the best ways to improve your sleep quality, which will help with weight loss efforts, stress management, and food cravings," Landicho says.

Don't stress yourself out if you don't meet your daily step count.

daily step goal concept

We totally get it—you're balancing a busy schedule with dieting, fitness, and social plans. And sometimes, life can get in the way. So don't stress yourself out if you don't meet your daily step count.

"Instead of stressing about individual days, see if you can gradually increase your weekly average over time," Landicho suggests. "This allows for daily fluctuations while still ensuring that you are making progress, which means that your walking routine can be much more flexible (and hopefully more enjoyable too!)"

A version of this story was originally published in March 2023. It has been updated to include new information.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
Sources referenced in this article
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