BlogChallengesI've Tried Walking 20,000 Steps a Day for Weight Loss and Here Are My Results

I've Tried Walking 20,000 Steps a Day for Weight Loss and Here Are My Results

6 mins read
Mariia Roza
Written by Mariia Roza on September 24, 2021
Davi Santana, M.Sc.
Fact checked by Davi Santana, M.Sc.
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If you decide to take long walks to lose weight, I have some great news for you: You will surely succeed! However, you might face some difficulties in the process. Check out, how to start walking 20,000 steps a day and the results you should expect.

During the 2020’th quarantine, I gained about 15 pounds in less than three months. All this stress, anxiety, no physical activity, emotional eating, and actually having nothing else to do except for eating take their toll. As all the gyms were closed, I decided to deal with the weight I’ve gained by taking long walks.

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Why did I choose walking over running?

Running was not an option at the moment because I had an injury from which I haven't fully recovered. What’s more, doing high-intensity training with a new weight that my ankles, knees, and hips were not used to carrying might have resulted in new injuries. That’s why I’ve installed a pedometer app on my phone and started walking. 

Another reason why I decided to walk was its psychological benefits. According to some research, walking can decrease your stress and anxiety levels as efficiently as meditation. What I also liked about walking is that it rarely boosts hunger as enormously as running. And I've noticed actual results after walking 20,000 steps a day for several weeks.

A woman walks in the forest
A woman walks in the forest

20,000 steps a day is how many miles?

It depends on your height (more precisely, the length of your legs). For example, for a person of 5’4 height, 20,000 steps are about 8.5 miles. If you’re about 5’6, this amount of steps will be equal to over 9 miles. 

How much time does it take to walk 20,000 steps?

As we’re talking about walking, not running or jogging, taking 20,000 steps might take about three hours. Walking for long distances is very time-consuming.

How many calories do 20,000 steps burn in a day?

The number of calories you burn dramatically depends on your body weight, height, pace, sex, muscle mass percentage, etc. Here are some examples of how many calories you might burn per hour of moderate walking (3mph), considering only your weight. These are only approximate numbers:

  • If you weigh 120 lbs, you will burn 270 calories.
  • If you weigh 140 lbs, you will burn 320 calories.
  • If you weigh 160 lbs, you will burn 360 calories.
  • If you weigh 180 lbs, you will burn 400 calories.

Considering that 20,000 steps take about 3 hours at this moderate pace, a 180 lb person will burn around 1000 calories while walking!

Warning: Some people tend to burn off their poor food choices with overexercising. Please, don’t do that. Make physical activity a joyful addition to your life and not a tedious punishment. Only in this case will you be able to make workouts a healthy, sustainable habit.

How to get 20,000 steps a day?

From my own experience, I’ve learned that you have to plan your day if you want to hit the 20,000 steps goal with no sacrifices. Now, when the gyms are opened again, you can occupy the treadmill for three hours, but I assure you, this approach won’t make you happier. I recommend you to think about how you can integrate all these steps in your life by making minor amendments to your daily routine.

If you’re going to the office by public transport, get off the bus or subway at one station beforehand. If you’re driving a car, park it some miles away from the office. If you need something at the supermarket, take a walk and don’t use a car.

If you’re a socializer who likes meeting with friends, offer them to have a walk instead of sitting in a cafe. Take your kids, spouse, parents, dog, whoever for a walk: Have some quality time together.

If you’re working from home and there are no places you have to visit daily, make your own quests. For example, you can walk to a distant coffee shop to have your morning cappuccino. You can choose the far supermarket to do your daily shopping. 

This thing with shopping might be a bit tricky, though. Let me explain. I remember feeling awkward about aimlessly strolling, so I set a goal every time I went out. As almost everything was closed, as a rule, I aimed at long-distanced supermarkets. Yes, I’ve lost some weight due to these long walks, but my wallet also became significantly thinner. I always bought something in the supermarkets I set as my “point B,” and these were things I didn’t even need in most cases.

How much weight should a person lose walking 20,000 steps a day?

I took 20,000-steps long walks for about two weeks, and I was astonished at how much it has helped me lose weight. I’ve lost almost six pounds in these two weeks, which became the starting point for my getting back into shape journey. Keep in mind, though, that your results might be different from mine which is absolutely fine, as we all have different bodies.

Besides burning calories out, long walks also influence how much you eat. In my case, the decrease in calories I consumed was due to at least three hours I would spend outdoors. This means I wasn’t snacking during these hours. 

Another way how walking affects your weight is that it helps you become less focused on food. My problem with the quarantine weight gain was that often I was eating just of boredom. And walking has shown me that there were still some interesting things you could do apart from munching. For example, you could go to the forest or the park and enjoy nature.

Summing up

  • Walking is a part of the so-called NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) which is a part of your total daily calories needs. By increasing your NEAT (aka taking more steps a day), you make your body burn more calories and, by doing so, boost your metabolism.
  • Walking for weight loss is extremely underrated. It is also a fantastic tool to maintain your new physique when you’ve already lost some pounds. Take your steps, and you will see results very fast.
  • Walking doesn’t cause hunger spikes as a more intense physical activity often does. This is why walking might be more beneficial for those who try to decrease their calorie intake.
  • Increase your steps a day progressively. If currently, you take less than 3,000 steps a day, add 1,000 steps every week. Find a sustainable number of steps for you, and try to push yourself a bit harder now and then.

I have tried walking 20,000 steps a day for weight loss, and I know it helps! If you’re not ready to spend that much time walking, increase your daily steps progressively, and you will still be astonished by the changes that happen to your body. It’s not only your weight that will normalize. Walking positively affects your psychological health positively; it boosts your metabolism and improves your stamina and overall fitness.

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Edwards M. K., Loprinzi P. D. (2018, July 7). Experimental effects of brief, single bouts of walking and meditation on mood profile in young adults. Health Promotion Perspectives. DOI:10.15171/hpp.2018.23