Walking one hour a day is seen as a simple and easy way to improve your fitness and get outdoors more.
In the age of the desk job, there’s a reason why doctors prescribe walking as a way to improve the health of sedentary individuals.
Research tells us that being too sedentary throughout the day can increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
So what are the benefits of walking one hour a day? How many steps should you be walking on a daily basis to see results?
In this guide we’ll explore:
- Is walking one hour a day good for you?
- Benefits of walking one hour a day
- How many steps should you walk a day?
- How much weight can you lose by walking one hour a day?
- How many calories can you burn by walking one hour a day?
- How to walk one hour a day
Let’s get going!
Is walking one hour a day good for you?
Regular walking has many benefits for the body and mind.
Walking is seen as a great form of low impact, aerobic exercise meaning it can do wonders for your endurance, stamina and cardiovascular health.
Studies have also shown that regular walking can help to prevent diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
Benefits of walking one hour a day
#1 Walking one hour a day is low impact
Unlike running which is a high impact form of exercise which can put stress on your muscles, bones and joints, walking is low impact.
It is for this reason walking is recommended to sedentary individuals when they first start a fitness routine – it is seen as a gentle way to get into exercise.
#2 Walking one hour a day is good for your mental health
We all know the benefits of getting outdoors more for your mental health.
60 minutes of walking each day can help to improve your self-esteem and decrease negative thoughts, as well as improve overall mental wellbeing.
#3 Walking one hour a day helps to build a solid base for fitness
By walking every day, you will be creating a solid base for fitness from which you can build on.
When it comes to building your endurance and stamina, it’s all about starting slowly, building consistent habits and progressing at regular intervals.
So if you’re not quite ready to start a regular running habit, try walking first instead.
In fact, many beginner runners start with a walk/run program before they can run continuously.
The Couch to 5k plan is so popular because it combines running and walking intervals.
#4 Walking one hour a day is great for your cardiovascular fitness
Research tells us that regular activity is a crucial element of maintaining good heart health.
According to the American Heart Association, walking can improve your cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and increase energy levels.
It can also help you maintain a healthy weight which is essential when it comes to improving heart health.
#5 Walking one hour a day helps to maintain a healthy weight
Walking helps you to maintain a healthy weight which is important for a variety of reasons, including reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Studies also show us that compared with sedentary individuals, people who do 30 minutes of brisk walking every day burn about 150 more calories each day – more on that in the next section.
#6 Walking one hour a day helps to burn belly fat
Regular aerobic exercise like walking is one of the most effective ways to burn belly fat.
Storing excess belly fat around your midsection is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Therefore it is recommended you do regular aerobic exercise like walking or running to burn belly fat.
#7 Walking one hour a day helps to strengthen bones and muscles
We’ve already talked about how walking is a great form of cardiovascular exercise which has benefits for your heart.
Walking one hour a day also helps to build and strengthen bones and muscles.
Your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calf muscles all work together every time you take a step forward.
Walking with weights also helps to intensify the workout and increase muscle toning.
If your goal is to improve strength and gain muscle, then it is recommended you combine walking with high impact activity like running and lifting weights.
#8 Walking one hour a day helps to increase energy levels
Walking is beneficial for your mood and energy levels.
Walking in the morning in particular helps to boost your energy levels and keep them high for the rest of the day.
This in turn has positive impacts for your circadian rhythm – that is your body’s natural 24-hour cycle of physical, mental and behavioural changes.
Your circadian rhythm is mostly affected by light and darkness, so going for a walk in the morning helps to reset your body’s internal clock.
According to a 2019 study, exercise can reset your body’s circadian clock, therefore helping to mitigate any negative effects of disrupted sleep patterns and help with the management of metabolic disease.
How many steps should you walk every day?
The general guidelines tell us that you should aim to walk 10,000 steps each day to stay healthy.
We all know though that this is not entirely realistic if you have a full time job or a family to look after.
Even if you can get 4,000 daily steps in, this is better than nothing!
What does the science tell us?
In a 2020 study, researchers looked at the association between step count, intensity and risk of death in the US population.
They found that compared with people who walked 4,000 steps a day, those who walked 8,000 steps a day at the start of the study had a 50% lower risk of dying from any cause during follow-up.
Adding that people who walked 12,000 steps a day had a 65% lower risk of dying than those who walked only 4,000.
The study also found that step intensity (the number of steps you take per minute) did not seem to impact the risk of death once the total number of steps per day was considered.
Only an increased number of steps per day was associated with a reduced risk of death.
This study suggests therefore that the total number of steps per day is more important than intensity.
How much weight can you lose by walking one hour a day?
There are many ‘walking for weight loss’ tips out there, so it can be confusing sometimes to know what is the best approach to take.
The key thing to remember when it comes to walking for weight loss, you must eat fewer calories than you burn through exercise and other activities each day.
In other words, increase the number of calories you burn via exercise and decrease the number of calories you consume, or both.
General guidelines tell us that a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is appropriate for most people looking to lose weight.
A deficit of 500 calories per day may lead to 0.5 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week.
This of course is a rather simplistic view, and there are so many other factors at play when it comes to walking for weight loss.
What we do know is the amount of weight you are able to lose by walking one hour a day will be influenced by a variety of factors – some of which you can control, others which you cannot.
Factors you can control:
- How often you walk
- How fast you walk
- Walking terrain
- Walking climate
- Diet and calorie intake
Factors you cannot control:
By leveraging the factors that you can control, you will be able to find a walking habit that works for you and that helps you to burn more calories.
To help you determine how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis to either maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, it is recommended you use a calorie calculator.
A calorie calculator works by taking into account the following variables:
- Your gender
- Your age
- Your height
- Your current weight
- Your activity levels
Once you input these variables into the calculator, it will give you your estimated calorie intake in order to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight.
Using the two below example runners, we can work out their suggested calorie intake:
|Runner 1 – Michelle||Runner 2 – Sarah|
Age: 36 years old
Height: 5 feet 6 inches
Weight: 140 pounds
Activity: Moderately active
Estimated calorie intake:
To maintain weight: 2,088 calories per day
To lose weight: 1,670 calories per day
Age: 45 years old
Height: 5 feet 3 inches
Weight: 154 pounds
Estimated calorie intake:
To maintain weight: 1,575 calories per day
To lose weight: 1,260 calories per day
How many calories can you burn by walking one hour a day?
Now that you’ve worked out how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis to lose weight, you may be wondering: “How many calories can you burn by walking one hour a day?”
The average walking speed is 2.5 to 4 miles per hour.
Taking this into account, the table below shows how many calories you can expect to burn by doing 60 minutes of walking on a flat surface every day.
These values are based on the guidance from the Compendium of Physical Activities.
|Walking speed||120 lbs / 54kg||150 lbs / 68kg||170 lbs / 77kg||190 lbs / 86kg|
|< 3.2 miles per hour||200||251||284||317|
|3.5 miles per hour||246||308||349||390|
|4 miles per hour||286||358||406||453|
|4.5 miles per hour||401||501||568||635|
These results tell us that the faster you walk, the more calories you are able to burn.
Walking on an incline also helps to burn more calories.
How to walk one hour a day
Now you know more about the benefits of walking one hour a day, here are the key things to remember in order to get the most out of walking every day.
#1 Aim to walk 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day
Guidelines tell us that you should aim to walk between 8,000 and 10,000 steps per day to stay healthy.
It’s worth pointing out though that this is a guideline and not the rule.
If you think you’d struggle to fit that many steps in your daily routine, then aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Whether that be a walk around the block, or a walk with a friend, it’s important to have a goal to work towards.
#2 Wear the right walking shoes
The right walking shoes are just as important as the right running shoes.
You’ll want to walk in a pair that provides the necessary comfort and stability, especially if you’re planning to walk long distances or on uneven terrain.
If you’re planning a walk around the block or in an urban setting, then a pair of trainers or running shoes should be suitable.
If you’re planning a hike, then you may want to invest in a pair of hiking boots.
#3 Plan your route
In order to maintain a daily walking habit, then you’ll want to find a walking route that you actually look forward to walking on.
If you’re lucky enough to live near the great outdoors, then there will be plenty of options to choose from.
Living in a town or city? Then you may want to plan a route that includes equal parts hard and soft surfaces to minimise the impacts on your joints.
And of course, plan a route that you feel comfortable and safe walking on.
#4 Maintain good walking form
As with running, it’s important you maintain proper walking form and posture.
Improper posture can lead to muscle imbalances and in some cases injury.
Follow these simple tips:
- Keep your head upright and your gaze forward – don’t look at the ground when you’re walking.
- Relax your upper arms, shoulders and back – release any unnecessary tension in your upper arms, shoulders and back.
- Use your arms – a strong arm motion can help to burn more calories, but don’t keep your arms too rigid and don’t let them cross your body.
- Take light, small steps – take light steps and land your feet directly underneath your body instead of in front of you as this will help prevent overstriding.