If you're wondering how quickly you will lose weight if you walk a mile every day, the answer isn't quite as simple as you'd hope. In fact, saying how many pounds you can expect to lose doing any activity — whether it's walking, swimming, yoga or cycling — is tricky.
Factors like body type, age, health, gender, weight, diet and effort all come into play. Then, there's the fact that not every mile is created equal. Is your walk all uphill? Or is it flat the entire time? Are you keeping the same pace, or walking in intervals? And wait, how long is a mile anyway?
Let's take a look at some common questions about walking and weight loss.
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How Many Calories Does Walking Burn?
The number of calories you burn during any given activity is going to depend, at least in part, on your current body weight. If a 125-pound person walks for 30 minutes at a leisurely pace, for example, she'll burn about 120 calories in 30 minutes. A 155-pound person will burn 149 calories during that same walk, and a 185-pound person will burn roughly 178 calories, according to the Harvard Health Publishing.
How Long Is a Mile?
A mile is 5,280 feet or 1.6 kilometers. It's also four times around a track. If you're walking around your neighborhood, consider investing in a fitness tracker to help you determine your distance.
Will You Lose More Weight if You Walk Faster?
Well, it helps. Intensity is a big factor in determining how many calories you'll burn during any given exercise, and to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in.
According to Harvard, that same 155-pound person will burn 149 calories per 30 minutes walking at a 3.5-miles-per-hour pace — or roughly a 17-minute mile. If she speeds up, she'll burn more calories. Walking one mile at 4 miles per hour — which should take 15 minutes — burns 167 calories. If she walks 4.5 miles per hour — or a 13-minute mile — she will burn 186 calories. And if she walks even faster at a walk/jog pace and completes a mile in under 10 minutes, her calorie burn will increase to 223.
How Fast Will You Lose Weight if You Walk a Mile Every Day?
Let's use that example of the 155-pound person to estimate how long it would take to lose one pound. To lose a pound, you need to burn around 3,500 calories more than you're consuming, according to the Mayo Clinic. If the 155-pound person walks one mile every day at 4 miles per hour — and eats neither more nor less than she normally eats — she'll lose a pound after 21 days. That might sound like a lot of effort for not a lot of payoff, but you have some options for losing weight faster.
Read more: What Is a Healthy Weight Loss Per Week?
How Can You Lose Weight Faster?
The first way to increase your efforts is pretty simple: Walk for a longer period of time (listen to a podcast or chat with a friend to make it more interesting). The second way? Walk faster. You may not be ready to walk faster than a 4- to 4.5-miles-per-hour pace, but over time you'll get in better shape, which will allow you to increase your intensity, helping you burn even more calories.
You can also increase your intensity by incorporating interval training into your walk, which is basically adding inclines and changing up your speed. One July 2007 Mayo Clinic Proceedings study found that walkers who added higher-intensity intervals to their walking program — by simply alternating between three minutes of fast walking and three minutes of slow walking for 30 minutes or more four times a week — improved their aerobic fitness, leg strength and blood pressure. Those who walked twice as long at a moderate, consistent pace barely saw any gains, faring similarly to a group that didn't exercise at all.
Can Other Workouts Help You Lose Weight Faster?
For even speedier results, consider adding strength training into your routine two or three days a week, doing situps, pullups, push-ups, lunges and squats to start. Muscle helps speed up your metabolism — and results in your body burning calories throughout the day, so getting stronger will also help you lose weight faster.
Read more: How to Get Started With Weight Lifting
Any Other Weight-Loss Tips?
Glad you asked. A healthy diet is an important part of weight loss. Try starting small and cutting out 200 calories a day. The first to go? Things like soda, snack bars and other processed snacks.