25 Tips to Follow for When You’re Walking for Weight Loss

Our experts share ways that you can burn fat and improve your overall health by walking.

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Over the past few years, walking and staying active have honestly become trendy. Hitting a certain number of steps for the day and corporate walking challenges have helped to improve daily physical activity. In fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services advises that adults should move more and sit less throughout the day, and they urge that even light physical activity is better than none.

If you are trying to manage your weight, walking can be a useful weight management tool. That's because walking can help maximize your NEAT (an abbreviation for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), which is essentially the energy expended for anything besides formal exercise and sleep. Walking, doing the dishes, cleaning the house and just general movement throughout the day all contribute to your NEAT. If you are walking for weight loss, NEAT can be a great tool for helping you achieve your goals. Just walking a few times a week can burn upwards of 200 calories per session. When all is said and done for the week, that can add up to a substantial caloric deficit with just minimal effort. Plus, research shows that walking is decreased in obese individuals and also declines with weight gain.

Editor's note: We also want to acknowledge that weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to try a new fitness routine (or diet), we invite you to gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.

But the benefits of walking go far beyond just benefitting the number on the scale. In fact, research suggests that walking can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and also improve longevity. What's more, walking regularly can improve a person's cognition and also help decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Whether you're walking for weight loss or just to improve your overall health, here are our expert tips to help you get the most out of the daily walking session.

1. Check the weather

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The last thing you want is to get caught in a rainstorm in the middle of your walk. Take a look at the weather report in the morning to see when the best time for your walk would be. If you normally walk at around 5 p.m. but the weather report expects rain, then consider rescheduling your walk for lunchtime. And always carry a charged phone with you in case the weather takes a turn and you need someone to pick you up.

2. Hydrate

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If you're heading out for a long walk, you'll want to make sure that you are hydrated. Try to stay hydrated during the day and drink two cups of water at least 30-60 minutes before your walk so it's out of your system (and you won't have to use the bathroom). When you return from your walk, make sure to down a glass of water to rehydrate the body. Avoid any sugary sodas or electrolyte drinks; if you're walking at a moderate intensity, water will do just fine to rehydrate the body.

3. Get the right gear

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Toss away the old flip-flops and opt for a good pair of sneakers. This will help with posture during your walk and can also reduce risk of injury. Plus, if you have the right sneakers on, it can help improve your stride and make walking a longer distance more comfortable.

4. Wear layers

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Dressing in layers can prove especially handy as your body warms up throughout your walk. Try a two or three layer system, with the first layer against your skin being a moisture-wicking material. Depending on the weather, a second and occasionally third layer can provide a barrier from the cold, wind, rain or all of the above. If you heat up, just tie that extra layer around your waist.

5. Invest in reflective clothing and accessories

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If you frequently walk outside, reflective workout gear is essential for significantly increasing your visibility and keeping you safe. Whether you are walking during the day or in the evening, it can be hard for cars to see pedestrians at any time of day so reflective gear and bright colors can make a big difference. Look for clothing and accessories like hats with reflective accents on both the front and back.

6. Focus on form

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Walking itself doesn't take much skill and is very natural, but certain posture and form cues can help enhance your walk. Focus on keeping your chin up and shoulders square. Your core should be activated and your back should be nice and straight. Most importantly, your glutes should be engaged with every step and try to think about tucking your butt inward. You'll want to land on your heels and roll forward to push off of your toes with each stride.

7. Pick up the pace

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Walking in intervals is a great way to help you burn more calories and keep your walk interesting. When it comes to walking, there are three different types of paces: stroll (similar to window shopping, about a 3/4 difficulty on a scale of 10), brisk walk (making an effort here, about a 4/5 difficulty), and power walk (on a mission, about a 5/6 difficulty). Warm up with a stroll, then aim for a brisk pace throughout your walk, and push to a power walk pace every five minutes to get your heart rate up. See how long you can maintain a power walk pace for and then try to increase it by a few seconds every time you go out for your walk. Power walking for weight loss can make a big difference in your overall health.

8. Set a goal

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How far can you walk in 30 minutes or in 1 hour? In order to optimize your walking pace, try to aim for 1.5 miles per 30 minutes and 3 miles per hour, which is a brisk pace of about 20 minutes per mile. If you can't commit to walking for a full hour or 30 minutes, do what you can, anything is better than nothing and can contribute to your daily steps tremendously. Our experts say it is also a good idea to set a goal for the number of walks you would like to reach per week and write them down so you can check each walk off as you go and feel a sense of accomplishment.

9. Walk on an incline

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If you're indoors, a treadmill will allow you to manipulate your incline and that can enhance the caloric burn of your walk. If you're outside, try to opt for a hilly area to optimize your walk. Research suggests that increasing incline can enhance the intensity of the workout while also reducing impact on the legs and joints.

10. Opt for some reverse walking

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Reverse walking, a fancy way to say walking backwards, may sound silly but actually provides a variety of health benefits. It can help enhance body coordination and increase strength in leg muscles that are not as heavily used. A recent study even found that backwards walking reduced pain and improved physical function in individuals with knee osteoarthritis. Try doing a short burst of reverse walking a few times throughout your walk, just be sure to stay aware of your surroundings.

11. Try adding light weights

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Looking to level up your walks? Walking with light weights can be a great low-impact strength training exercise and intensify both calorie burn and muscle toning. You can try a weighted vest, ankle weights, wrist weights or light dumbbells that you hold throughout your walk. Even light 1-3 pound weights can get heavy quickly so start with a very light weight and a short walking route to test things out and see how your body feels.

12. Walk with a friend

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An accountability buddy can help you stay on track and make that daily walk non-negotiable. Try to find a friend, family member or co-worker who will go for a walk with you a few times a week to keep you motivated and change things up.

13. Stroll with a furry friend

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Regular walking can work wonders for both you and your dog. Improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and decreased stress are some of the many benefits. Walking is vital for your pet's health too by helping manage their weight and reducing risk of medical complains like osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and more. Consider adding an extra 10 minutes to your regularly scheduled dog walk to ease into things for both you and your furry friend.

14. Walk for a cause

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Apps like Charity Miles: allow you to turn your steps into charity money. The app donates 25 cents to a charity of your choice for every mile you complete. Plus, you can create your own Pledge Page where friends can sponsor you, even if you're not doing a marathon or race.

      15. Find a motivating playlist

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      Create your own playlist or head to the Workout tab on Spotify for a variety of curated playlists to suit your workout preference. Choose from options like pumped pop, classic rock, heavy beats and more.

          16. Download a great audiobook

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          Take your favorite book outdoors by downloading your favorite audiobook to keep you busy during that afternoon stroll. Apps like Audible make your walks educational and can help pass the time while also keeping you engaged.

              17. Listen to your favorite podcast

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              Choose from one of our 50 best podcasts to keep you entertained on your daily walk. Whether you're into true crime or celebrity interviews, this list is sure to have a podcast choice for everyone.

              18. Find the right walking app for you

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              A walking app can be just the thing to keep you motivated and track your steps as you make note of your walking progress along the way. An app like Pacer is essentially a pedometer built into your smartphone, which is excellent for keeping track of steps on your walk and throughout the day. Alternatively, platforms like Human track your steps and movement but focus more on active minutes rather than steps and help you set challenges along the way.

                  19. Walk around the world

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                  Certain high-end treadmills offer beautiful scenic walking trails all around the world that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Choose from destinations like Bali, Japan and more. Alternatively, you can take advantage of free walking tours on Youtube like this one through Rome, Italy on your smartphone or tablet as you walk on the treadmill at home or at the gym.

                  20. Maximize your walk with a smart watch

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                  Investing in a smart watch like the FitBit Sense or Apple Watch can help enhance your walking experience by providing enhanced stats, encouraging you to complete your steps for the day and keeping you hands-free while you stroll. Check out our expert smart watch picks here to find one best suited to your needs.

                  21. Try an audio-based walking course

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                  Our fitness experts love the on-demand audio-based walking classes on the Peloton Digital app. Seasoned instructors guide you through different walking intensities with curated playlists. It's like walking with your very own personal trainer. Another great option that our pros recommend is Time to Walk, a feature on the Apple Watch where users can immerse themselves in a walk alongside influential and interesting people as they share meaningful stories, photos, music and more.

                  22. Stay safe

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                  If you're concerned about safety while out for your walk, apps like ROAD ID allow your friends and family to track you while you're out on your route and offer other safety features as well. Always be aware of your surroundings and tell a friend or family member ahead of time where you are planning to walk and when you expect to be home.

                      23. Follow a walking plan

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                      A structured walking plan can help hold you accountable and keep your walking routine interesting. Walk Your Way to Better Health, a walking plan from our sister magazine Prevention, comes with a preloaded Mp3 player, dozens of walking workouts and 140+ healthy recipes to support your overall health.

                          24. Calculate your calorie burn

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                          Calorie burn while on your walk can vary greatly depending on several factors like your weight, distance walked, incline, terrain and more. A smart watch can help give you a fairly accurate estimate, but if you prefer not to use one then you can try estimating your burn with walking calorie calculators that are available for free.

                          25. Finish with a 5-minute stretch

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                          Squeezing in even just five minutes of stretching after your walk can improve range of motion and prevent injury. Move muscle recovery along by taking at least five minutes to do some static stretching, which involves moving a muscle or joint as far as it can go and then holding it for a period of time. Static stretches like a quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch and tricep stretch are all examples that can help provide relief and relaxation of the muscles after your walk.

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