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Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which means your body weight affects the number of calories you burn and how much weight you lose. A heavier individual will lose weight more quickly walking the same distance as a lighter individual, because they must carry more weight across that distance. Regardless, it is a great form of exercise for weight management no matter what your starting point. If you're trying to lose weight by walking, you can change the speed or incline or add intervals to burn calories and lose weight more quickly.
You must burn approximately 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound. A 155-pound person will burn about 150 calories walking at 3.5 mph during 30 minutes on the treadmill at a zero percent incline. When you do the math, you'll see that you have to walk just under 12 hours to burn off enough calories to lose 1 pound. Taking a two-hour walk almost every day of the week would help you meet a goal of losing about 1 pound per week.
One way to lose weight more quickly on the treadmill is by increasing your walking speed. The higher the speed, the more calories you burn per minute. If you weigh 155 pounds and bump your speed from 3.5 mph to 4 mph, you'll burn 167 calories in 30 minutes, a 12 percent increase from the lower speed. Increase that again to 4.5 mph, and you're up to 186 calories in 30 minutes. At this speed, you would lose a pound in just 9.5 hours of walking, rather than the 12 hours required at 3.5 mph.
You can also increase the incline on the treadmill to simulate hills; your muscles will have to work harder as you walk uphill. A 2011 study in "Gait and Analysis" found that walking at an incline resulted in greater activation of hip, knee and ankle extensor muscles -- up to 635 percent greater muscle activation at a 9 percent incline. More muscular work translates to more calories burned. Overweight exercisers may find it more comfortable to walk slowly at a moderate incline; they also will have less risk of musculoskeletal injury, according to a study published in 2011 in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise."
While walking at 3.5 mph on a flat surface burns 150 calories in 30 minutes, walking at an incline of 3 percent burns just over 200 calories in the same time. When you increase the incline, avoid leaning back and holding onto the treadmill. Your goal should be to maintain a straight posture while increasing the muscular work of your legs, burning more calories.
Consider using intervals to lose weight faster. Because it can be difficult to maintain a high speed or steep incline for long periods, you can adjust both of these factors intermittently throughout the workout. An interval workout typically contains a slower warmup, periods when the speed or incline are increased, and recovery periods. You can do intervals by just varying the incline, just varying the speed or adjusting both factors.
In addition to exercise, keep your diet steady. You might feel hungry after workouts, or feel that you deserve a treat. Eating more than usual will cancel out some of the calorie burn from your walks, causing you to lose weight more slowly.