Walking is one of the easiest exercises you can do. It doesn’t require any particular equipment or skills. You walk during the day and may not even notice how much time you spend on the activity. Running errands may result in taking between 2,500 (7) and 4000 steps for an average American adult (2). Some studies claim that 10,000 steps a day is a reasonable target for a healthy adult (8), while others point out that this number has no evidence to back it up, so it should not be considered the only ideal goal. Another study suggested that adding even 2,000 extra steps a day can be beneficial (5). So, if even that relatively small amount can improve your health, what is the ideal number to help you shed a significant amount of pounds? What would be the results of 20,000 steps a day in terms of weight loss? Are there any benefits to a 20,000 steps a day weight loss plan?
Will I Lose Weight If I Take 20,000 Steps a Day?
Walking 20,000 steps a day may be quite challenging, particularly if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and you don’t have that much free time. However, it is easier than sweating it out for hours in the gym and, as previously mentioned, it doesn’t require any special equipment. All you need is comfy clothes and proper footwear. Choosing the right shoes may significantly improve your experience and also reduce the risk of injury. When choosing your walking shoes, you should make sure that they are fairly lightweight, provide good shock absorption, and fit you perfectly (11).
To find out how many calories walking 20,000 steps a day burns, you need to consider three factors: your initial parameters (weight, height, sex, age), the distance you walk, and the intensity of the process. 2,000 steps equals approximately 1 mile (1.61 km), so walking 20,000 steps a day would mean that you walk 10 miles (16 km) (9). An hour of walking at 4 mph (6.4 km/h) burns around 270 calories in a 125-pound person, 334 calories in a 155-pound person, and 400 calories in a 185-pound person (4).
Based on this information, it can be calculated that taking 20,000 steps a day with a walking speed of 4 mph will burn 675 calories in a 125-pound person, 835 calories in a 155-pound person, and 1,000 calories in a 185-pound person. These numbers are pretty impressive and if you combine your 20,000 steps a day weight loss plan with healthy nutrition and proper hydration, you can expect visible results in next to no time. You can use the calories burned calculator to calculate how many calories you require, how many you burn, and how many you should consume to reach the desired result.
What Are the Health Benefits of Walking 20,000 Steps a Day?
Pros of 20,000 Steps a Day for Weight Loss
Walking 20,000 steps a day may have the following pros:
Reduced belly fat (11)
Studies have shown that walking exercise can help fight abdominal obesity, which means that it may help reduce the amount of the most harmful type of fat, visceral fat, together with other belly fat (subcutaneous) (6). Study participants targeted burning 400 calories during 50-70-minute walks three times a week for 12 weeks. They experienced reductions in both visceral and subcutaneous fat, as well as improvements in insulin resistance markers.
When you come home after a long day involving a lot of physical activity, you often feel tired, but satisfied. When you go to bed after taking a shower, it is much easier to fall asleep. And you will not only fall asleep, but may also have a deeper sleep, meaning that you feel more refreshed and rested the next morning. So, after walking for 20,000 steps, you may be able to enjoy one of the best sleeps of your life.
Improved stress management
You may already know that physical exercise is a great way of reducing stress (1) and improving your overall wellness. The same is true for walking. Furthermore, walking can have a therapeutic effect, particularly if you walk somewhere close to nature, such as in a park, near a zoo, in the countryside, or by a river. (13) Walking 20,000 steps a day will also give you the opportunity to clear your mind, meditate, and enjoy the fresh air, sunlight, and nature around you. In this way, you reduce your stress by killing two birds with one stone – relaxing and enjoying nature while performing physical exercise.
Reduced joint pain
Walking increases blood flow in tense areas and promotes the strengthening of the muscles surrounding your joints. Therefore, despite the widespread belief that a lot of walking may damage your joints, it can be beneficial, and may even reduce joint pain when performed properly. If you aren’t sure how much or what kinds of activities are safe for you, speak to your healthcare provider.
A regular walking routine can significantly improve the regularity of your bowel movements, improve your digestion, and decrease bloating.
Decreased chronic disease risk
Regular walking exercise may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. It may also reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. (10)
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Cons Of 20,000 Steps a Day for Weight Loss
Despite its many benefits, walking is not always a safe activity. Walking 20,000 steps a day may help you slim down, trim your waistline, and improve your overall health, but you should always make sure to do it properly. If not, it may have negative consequences. Here are some of the cons:
It takes time
If you are a busy person who leads a fast-paced life, you may find walking 20,000 steps a day to be too time-consuming. It was stated above that walking at a speed of 4 mph (6.4 km/h) will take you approximately 2.5 hours to reach 20,000 steps. Therefore, if you spend most of your time at work where you manage 3,000-4,000 steps, you may need to spend at least 2 hours of your free time walking, which some people may find not particularly alluring. Working some of it into the daily activities you already do can help, as we will discuss in the next section.
Makes you feel tired
This may sound obvious as any physical exercise will make you feel tired, but walking 20,000 steps a day is not just any physical exercise. It will be particularly exhausting if your day involves other types of exercise, strenuous brainwork, or increased stress levels. And if you don’t get proper sleep while continuing to walk 20,000 steps a day regularly, you can expect the feeling of tiredness to follow you wherever you go.
The main goal of the 20,000 steps a day weight loss plan is to lose weight, but it becomes more difficult when you start to feel hungry more often and require more food to satisfy your hunger. It may become a real challenge if you follow a diet that reduces your caloric intake, which will leave you with a restricted amount of food that you are allowed to eat. Increasing your protein and fiber intake can help.
Walking 20,000 Steps a Day Weight Loss Tips
You shouldn’t give up on your goal if you don’t have much free time. Instead, you can try to increase the number of steps you take every day while performing your routine tasks. Here are some tips that can help you with this:
Park farther from the entrance
Park your car a bit farther than you are used to. This will make you walk to the entrance, adding to your total steps.
Walk at work
If you have free time in your lunch break, go out and take a walk. The best option is to prepare lunch at home and go to the nearest park, where you can enjoy both your food and nature.
Walk at home
You can add some steps to your routine by walking from one spot to another while waiting for something, watching TV, reading a book, or talking on the phone.
Use the stairs instead of an elevator
Next time you need to go upstairs, take the stairs rather than an elevator. It doesn’t require much significant effort, but it will increase the number of burned calories and the number of steps you take during the day.
Walking 20,000 Steps a Day and Not Losing Weight
Now before we finish, let’s address one of the most common issues associated with this activity that may lead to some people giving up early on. You follow the routine of walking 20,000 steps a day regularly, but your weight does not budge at all. Fret not, as there are ways of resolving this problem.
You may start by checking your daily diet and making some changes to it. You want to be eating a healthy balanced diet and creating a calorie deficit to lose weight. Eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help with this. Fiber and protein are filling. Use the plate method by filling half your plate with fruits and non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables..
You can also make efforts to maximize your weight loss by adding weights when you walk. More calories will be burned if you weigh more. This will also help in strength training and ensure the pounds lost are not muscle mass. It can be done with the help of weight belts, weighted vests, or weighted backpacks. (14)
How many calories do 20,000 steps burn?
On average, walking 20,000 steps will burn 700 to 1000 calories. This value can vary significantly from person to person depending on a variety of factors such as age, gender, weight, and lifestyle. It is also dependent on how fast you walk. (3)
Is 20,000 steps a day realistic?
20,000 steps a day is without doubt a realistic approach to weight loss. However, to achieve it, some commitment is required. 20,000 steps a day should take approximately 3 hours, but instead of aiming to complete this all in one go, you can divide it into several parts and work some into your normal daily routine.
What happens if you walk 20,000 steps a day for a month?
If you regularly walk 20,000 steps a day for a month, this can provide you with many benefits. Firstly, it is likely to help you shed some pounds. In addition, it may help with your health, potentially reducing the risk of many chronic diseases.
Even if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you still spend some of your time walking. Walking is a physical exercise that also burns calories. If you want to try the 20,000 steps a day weight loss plan, you can expect great results such as reduced abdominal fat, improved sleep, and reduced chronic disease risk. As good as it sounds, walking 20,000 steps a day has its cons. These can include feelings of tiredness and hunger and the fact that it steals a significant chunk of your day. If you are still determined to undertake this challenge, the above-stated tips may help you reach your goal of 20,000 steps a day without disturbing your daily routine. However, before you start a walking 20,000 steps a day weight loss plan, you should consult with your healthcare provider. It’s also important to remember that consistency is the key if you want to see the best results from your efforts.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 stress busters (2018, nhs.uk)
- 10,000 steps a day: Too low? Too high? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (2018, health.harvard.edu)
- Do you really need to take 10,000 steps a day for better health? (2019, health.harvard.edu)
- Effect of walking exercise on abdominal fat, insulin resistance and serum cytokines in obese women (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How Many Steps a Day Do You Really Need? (2019, webmd.com)
- How many steps/day are enough? for adults (2011, ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com)
- Steps-to-Distance Conversion Chart (n.d., uwyo.edu)
- Walking shoes: Features and fit that keep you moving (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Why walking is the most underrated form of exercise (2018, nbcnews.com)