One of the main goals of my weight loss journey is to walk between 10,000 and 11,000 steps per day. And in terms of physical activity, that’s it. Many of you may be wondering if walking is actually enough to really help lose weight, and I can assure you that it is (at least for me, and probably most people). One of the reasons I like walking and recommend it to others is because it’s 100% free and most people can do it regardless of their fitness level.
Throughout the years, walking is one of the main activities I did to help me lose weight. In fact, I lost more weight just walking than I ever did when I had a fancy gym membership and my workouts involved going to the gym. For me, I’d rather just go outside and take a walk (or use my treadmill at home) so it’s easier to stick to that routine.
I’ve also noticed that I tend to gain weight very easily when I get out of the habit of walking daily (or at least regularly).
Because I wear a Fitbit, I can compare my “lazy” days to my active days and actually visualize the difference. It’s nice having that data displayed so that I can see my accomplishments and progress (and see how many calories I’m burning!)
Let’s look at a few days and compare my activity to my calories burned
Here’s a look at a relatively lazy day for me. I took 3,671 steps and walked a total of 1.7 miles. This is a day where I haven’t taken a walk or done any type of heavy activity. On this particular day, Fitbit estimated that I burned about 2,953 calories.
Let’s look at a day where I reached my goal and got 11,211 steps. Fitbit estimated 3,603 calories burned – that’s a 605 calorie difference!
And let me throw in one more example, this is a VERY active day for me – I exceeded 18,000 steps and walked over 8 miles. I burned an estimated 4,334 calories. Now, comparing that to my lazy day that’s a +1,381 calorie burn!
As you can see, walking significantly increases my calorie burn each day and helps me lose weight much easier. I don’t know exactly HOW accurate the calorie estimation is, but I think it’s relatively accurate. Also, keep in mind at the time of writing this, I am around 280 lbs so my calorie burn is naturally higher than an average weight person.
As time goes on and I continue losing weight, it will be less significant… but it all adds up in the end!
Keeping at least a 1,000 daily calorie deficit
I think it’s important for me to note just because Fitbit says I burned a certain number of calories doesn’t mean I eat that many. Actually, I try to limit my intake to somewhere around 2,000 per day (give or take a few hundred). So some days it’s more like 1,400 and other days 2,500! I’ve read that varying your daily calories is better for your metabolism because your body doesn’t get too used to anything and it shakes it up. I don’t know how true that is, but it is working for me!
I try to aim for a 1,000 daily calorie deficit, and burning extra calories through walking makes it easier. I don’t typically eat back the extra calories I burn, I use them as a buffer. What I mean by that is, since I’m not the most accurate calorie counter (I tend to estimate a lot more than I should, and I don’t use a food scale!) I can afford to not be as accurate and still keep losing weight. As time goes on that’ll change, but for now, it works.
How it translates in terms of weight loss… down nearly 14 lbs in 5 weeks!
Okay so I’ve showed how much just walking can increase my daily calorie burn, but how much weight am I actually losing with all this?
Well, in the past 5 weeks I’ve been able to drop 13.8 lbs. This was in combination with lowering my calorie intake, so keep in mind it isn’t just soley walking that is responsible for my weight loss, but it certainly helped speed it up.
It might not be impressive, but I’m going for slow and steady here. That’s 2.76 lbs/week on average. While I’m sure it’ll slow down at some point as I lose more weight, I also could easily lose 100 lbs over the course of the next year.
Walking also has huge health benefits
Beyond weight loss, walking is great for your health. According to the CDC, adults should be getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week – that’s 2 1/2 hours. (Or 75 minutes of high intensity activity). This is the minimum recommendation for health benefits, but the more active you are, the more benefits you get. And walking totally counts as moderate intensity, but the more brisk you can walk, the better.
If aiming for bare minimum, 2.5 hours is not that much at all. Spread over the course of a week, it’s only 20 minutes a day. I think most people could manage that.
My active minutes (recorded via Fitbit)
My Fitbit records active minutes after I’ve been doing a moderately intense activity for over 10 minutes (which is per CDC guidelines). Last week I clocked 504 minutes – that’s not too bad and way above the recommendation. I want to continue this activity level and hopefully increase it as time goes on.
So don’t underestimate the impact walking can have on your weight loss and health. If you’re not doing anything and looking to start somewhere, it’s a great activity to begin with!