Walking for Fitness and Weight Loss

Walking for fitness and weight loss: How to use walking as part of a fitness and weight loss program.


Walking for 30-60 minutes per day at a brisk pace is recommended by health authorities for maintaining health and reducing weight gain.  It is one of the easiest forms of exercise for most of us to accomplish.

How to Start Walking for Weight Loss

If you have health concerns or a chronic problem, consult with your health care provider prior to beginning any exercise program.

If you have been doing no walking other than going about your daily tasks, start with a 15 minute walk.  You should be able to cover between 3/4 mile and 1 mile in that time.

•          Spend the first couple of minutes at an easy pace to warm up and loosen up.  Then increase your speed until you are walking at a determined pace.

•          As you reach your top speed, your breathing will increase but

you should still be able to speak in full sentences rather than just gasping out a word at a time.

•          As you near the end of your walk, slow to an easy pace for a minute before finishing.

If you normally get a lot of walking in within a day, or find 15 minutes to be no challenge, you can bump up your walking time to 30 minutes.

If the 15 minutes was already a challenge, increase your walking time by 5 minutes after completing 5 walking days.  Most walkers do not need a rest day between walking days until they are walking for more than an hour at a time.

Work up to a goal of walking 30-60 minutes a day most days of the week.  That is the level of exercise recommended by the American Heart Association for good health and maintaining a healthy weight.

•          How to Walk for Absolute Beginners

•          Let's Get Walking : Free 4-week program for beginners


Walking Shoes  for Weight Loss

The only special gear needed for fitness walking is a good pair of shoes.  While many styles are labeled as walking shoes, they may not be appropriate for fitness walking.  You need to test the shoes to be sure they meet the F criteria: Flat, flexible, and no flared heel.

•          Flat:  Walkers strike with their heel, so a low heel is desired.  Some running shoes have built-up heels because some runners land on their midfoot.  Look for styles that are flat.

•          Flexible: Your foot rolls through a step from heel to toe, and your shoe must bend throughout this motion.  If your shoe isn't flexible, your foot will be straining against it through each step.  Test the shoe to make sure you can flex and bend it.  If you can't -- it's not a good shoe for fitness walking.

•          No Flared Heel: Some running shoes and trail shoes have a flared heel to provide stability for runners who land on their mid-foot.  This is completely wrong for walkers, who strike with their heel.  A slightly undercut heel is best for walking to help with rolling from heel to toe.


Should you buy running shoes for walking?  The answer is usually yes.  You will be able to find a wider range of acceptable styles labeled as running shoes than you will find labeled as walking shoes.  This doesn't mean there aren't excellent walking shoes available, but that you need to test each shoe to see whether it is good for fitness walking.


Where should you buy walking shoes?  Find the store in your area that caters to serious runners rather than going to a big box store or shoe chain store.  These stores build customer loyalty by being experts on fitting you for the best shoes for your feet. They will be able to tell whether you overpronate and need a motion control shoe or whether you would do well with a stability shoe or lightweight performance trainer. You can expect to pay $50-100 for a good pair of shoes.  Generally, a higher priced shoe is not necessary and would indicate something fashionable rather than what is needed for function.

Before You Buy Walking Shoes  for Weight Loss


 Walking Off Weight

To lose weight, you must burn more calories each day than you eat.  Effective weight loss combines a reduced calorie diet with exercise, to build lean muscle while losing unsightly and unhealthy fat.  Burning an extra 300 calories per day in exercise is recommended, which is equal to 60 minutes of walking a day for most people.



Calorie Calculators

•          Daily Calories Calculator:  How many calories does your body need each day just to function?  Use this calorie calculator to see what your basal metabolic rate it (BMR).  To lose weight, you should aim to consume 300 fewer calories per day than your BMR.

•          Walking Calorie Calculator by Distance:  Enter your weight and the distance you walked to see how many calories you burned.

•          Walking Calorie Calculator by Walking Minutes:  Enter your weight and the minutes you walked plus your estimated speed to see how many calories you burned.

•          Pedometer Steps Calorie Calculator: Enter your pedometer steps, weight, average steps per mile and estimated speed to see how many calories you burned.

•          Calorie Count:  Find the calorie content of food, including restaurant items.  You can plan meals, analyze recipes and track your calories online at no cost.



Walking for Fitness and Weight Loss