Step counters are an essential part of nearly every popular health app. That’s because walking is one of the easiest exercises you can do for better health. But if you’re just trying to lose weight, how many steps per day do you need to put in?
That really depends on a variety of factors. I’m sorry to say, there truly isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Let me explain.
What Affects Your Steps Per Day to Lose Weight?
In reality, what contributes to losing weight while walking is your heart rate. The more physically active you are, the better. And with all of the benefits of walking, it does more than just burn fat.
So, what feeds into how much you can lose by walking?
Speed in Which You Walk
Speed matters when it comes to the number of steps per day you need to lose weight. Someone walking at 3 miles per hour is going to burn more than someone walking at just over one.
The more effort you put into walking, the higher your heart rate climbs. This is an identifier that your body is burning more calories in order to maintain that speed.
Consider jogging or running vs walking. Running a mile will drive you into a sweaty mess faster than simply walking that mile at a leisurely stroll.
Ambient Temperature While Walking
The ambient temperature of your location plays a role in calorie burn. That’s because your body compensates by trying to cool itself when you get too hot.
This leads to a higher rate of burning calories. But, there is a caveat.
Although hotter temperatures will cause you to burn calories faster, you’ll also lose water and risk heat exposure. So, you don’t want to purposely go for a jog if it’s 110 degrees outside.
I only bring it up because the temperature will affect weight loss while doing any activity. But this could also be lost from water weight, so make sure you’re properly hydrated.
How Long You Walk
The amount of time you spend consistently walking affects your average heart rate. And when I say, “consistently,” I am referring to non-stop activity.
For instance, you’ll burn more calories going for a solid, 30-minute walk than you will if you take two 15-minute walks an hour apart.
This is because it will take time for your heart rate to climb back to where it was by the end of that 15-minute walk. But if it’s a constant activity, it stays elevated.
The longer you can keep your heart rate above 130 bpm, the better for losing weight.
Your Overall Weight
Did you know that how much you weigh will affect calorie burn per minute? I’ve actually experienced this myself. I burned fat faster when I weighed 300+ as opposed to 220.
In other words, if you’re obese and walk at a pace of 3 mph for 30 minutes, you’d burn more calories and fat than an athlete who walked the exact same rate and distance.
So, the number of steps you need per day would be fewer to lose weight than someone already closer to their goal. Though, you’ll eventually slow down as well as you begin to lose mass.
Are You Male or Female?
It doesn’t matter what you identify as, male humans often have less body fat and more muscle than women. It’s just how the human species works.
As a male, you’ll burn more calories per minute than a female. That is unless you’re on hormone therapy.
It’s all part of that pesky “genetics” thing that scientists often throw around. Until there is evidence to the contrary, it’s better to side with data that has already been validated.
The Best Way to Lose Weight While Getting in Your Steps Per Day
Be in a Caloric Deficit
The premise behind getting in a certain amount of steps per day to lose weight is based on being in a caloric deficit. This means you’re burning more than you consume.
And since walking is a basic activity that most people can easily do, it’s one of the simplest ways to burn fat.
Of course, the type of food you eat will also play into how long it takes you to burn that fat. Processed sugars, foods ultra-high in carbs, and other insanely unhealthy foods will take longer to melt away.
For this, I use the free app, MyFitnessPal. I record every morsel of food I put into my body. Then, my Fitbit makes adjustments to the calorie total based on my physical activity.
Plus, it’s nice to know where I stand from a point of healthy eating. How many carbs do I consume in a day versus proteins? MyFitnessPal will show you.
This way, I can make a simple glance at my phone to tell if I can “afford” a snack.
Go For Longer Walks, If Possible
A great way to keep your heart rate up is to go for distance while maintaining a good pace. And I mean more than just one or two miles per hour.
If you’re not sure how to gauge the distance or how fast you’re walking, you can use free apps like Runkeeper to keep track.
Anyway, the longer you can keep your heart rate up, the more fat you’ll burn. Instead of focusing on a mile, see if you can grind out two.
Maintain a Faster Speed
As I’ve mentioned several times above, the faster you get in your steps per day, the more weight you’ll lose.
Now, I don’t expect everyone to be a marathon runner. I know I’m nowhere near being in good enough shape for that. But, it’s not too difficult to hasten the pace at which you walk.
On a good day, I can average around 4 mph for more than 30 minutes. This is according to Runkeeper as it gives me audible updates when I hit certain milestones.
One of these milestones I aim for is a 15-minute mile, or 4 mph.
Set Proper Goals for Yourself
Create a few walking goals that are based on your personal accomplishments. If you walked 10,000 steps yesterday, aim for 10,001 today.
Be realistic with what you can physically accomplish. After all, you’re not in competition with anyone but yourself in the grand scheme of things.
Even if you get into a step challenge with friends, it all comes down to what you’re physically able to do.
Get in More Steps per Day to Lose Weight
So, as you can see, the answer to how many steps you need per day to lose weight is not as easy to answer as some might think. There are just too many variables that depend on each person’s lifestyle.
But there is one inescapable truth…walking does help you lose weight.
Do what you can to crank out as many steps as possible today. It can have an extremely positive effect on you both physically and mentally.