It’s possible to lose weight by walking. No matter your BMI, walking should be a part of your daily routine.

About a year ago, we published an article called, “Walking to Lose Weight Chart.” More than 48,000 people have discovered our 8-week walking plan, which details how long you need to walk to lose a pound a week.

Since then, we’ve gotten this question a lot: How much should I walk daily according to BMI?

How Much to Walk According to BMI

how much to walk according to bmi to lose weight

First, we want to say that we think the body mass index (BMI) is a bad metric and should only be used as a general rule of thumb.

For example, in 2011, BMI only diagnosed “obesity” accurately 50% of the time in white, black, and Hispanic women according to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

And in 1998, when the US BMI table changed to match the World Health Organization’s, approximately 25 million Americans were reclassified from “healthy” to “overweight.”

To make matters worse, the body mass index has racist origins and was never even meant to be used as a measure of individual health — and, in fact, shouldn’t be used by people of color.

That’s right, the current BMI ranges are based on research of mainly white populations. Still, BMI is not something we can ignore. It is widely used by governments, doctors, and our health insurance policies.

Therefore, in this article, we’ll teach you how to calculate BMI and how much to walk according to BMI to lose weight.

But first, where did this ‘bad’ metric come from?

The History of BMI

The index was developed in 1832 by a Belgian statistician, Adolphe Quetelet, who compiled “the average man” measurements of Scottish and French participants to study the relationship between height and weight.

Again, Quetelet wasn’t a doctor, simply a statistician (in fact, his Wikipedia lists him as, first and foremost, an astronomer.)

His measurements, known as the Quetelet Index, were viewed as a representation of the “ideal man” and were used to scientifically justify eugenics.

After World War II, the link between obesity and cardiovascular disease became a hot topic of epidemiological studies. Knowing this, insurance companies wanted a method to figure out what to charge policyholders based on their weight. Enter the Quetelet Index.

Renamed the body mass index in 1972, the index got a revamp as researchers added in new measurements taken from 7,500 men in the United States, Italy, Finland, Japan, and predominantly white populations in South Africa.

As more insurance companies used the body mass index, the unthinkable happened: doctors and government health organizations started adopting and making policies based on the body mass index.

Calculating Your BMI

Now that my rant against BMI is over, the body mass index still has a useful purpose in understanding general weight guidelines based on height. It can still be helpful to many — just take it with a grain of salt, especially if you aren’t white.

We recommend, in addition to BMI, following our progress tracking body measurement chart and taking measurements of not just your weight, but also the inches/centimeters of your chest, hips, arms, and thighs, and capturing progress photos.

These will display the incremental changes that your diet and exercise changes are making. And yes, walking does reduce BMI.

Before we get to answering the question, “How much to walk according to BMI?” here is how you calculate your BMI.

The formula for calculating BMI is simple and is the same for everyone despite sex, age, and ethnicity:

BMI = (Your weight in kg) / (Your height in cm)2

Or, easier yet, here is the CDC’s Adult Body Mass Index Calculator, in both English and metric units.

How much to walk according to BMI to lose weight guide

The Walking and BMI Weight Loss Guide

Download and get instant access to our free guide on how much to walk daily according to BMI.

As a bonus, you'll also get our body measurement chart and 8-Week Weight Loss Walking Plan. 

The BMI Table – What Counts as Overweight and Obese?

The body mass indexes of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States National Institute of Health (NIH) share the below recommendations on weight statuses for adults, as of 2023:

  • Below 18.5 = Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9 = Healthy Weight
  • 25.0 – 29.9 = Overweight
  • 30.0 – 34.9 = Obesity Class I
  • 35.0 – 39.9 = Obesity Class II
  • Above 40.0 = Obesity Class III

For children, BMI is calculated in the same way, but the cutoffs are less rigid and should be compared against the percentiles of children of the same age and sex.

Health benefits of walking

Going for a walk is incredibly healthy and good for the body, no matter if you’re a gym rat or a couch potato.

Walking even 2 hours a week improves longevity, according to a study by the American Cancer Society with over 140,000 adults.

The sweet spot was found with people who moved for 5 minutes every hour with one long walk a day, totaling 6 hours a week. This group, categorized by the study as “active walkers” showed a lower risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease.

How much to walk to lose 1 lb a week

In our article, ‘Walking to Lose Weight Charts‘ we share how much to walk to lose weight.

The rule of thumb is that to lose one pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories. To lose one pound a week, this roughly equates to 10,000 steps or 1.5 hours of walking every day.

How much to walk according to bmi time miles and steps to lose 1 pound

Here is the same chart in metric units. 

How much to walk according to bmi time miles and steps to lose 0.5 kgs

For many, spending 1.5 hours of walking every day isn’t reasonable — either from a fitness, weather, or timing standpoint.

Still, this gives you a rough idea and how, for example, you could instead walk 30 minutes a day and expect to see 1 pound of weight loss every three weeks.

Lastly, how long it will take you to lose weight depends on many factors. It’s an extremely difficult question to answer and you shouldn’t focus on your rate of weight loss anyway. 

However, understanding a healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss is useful for setting goals and measuring progress. Therefore, if you have any questions about weight loss rate (pounds per week), read our article titled, ‘How Long Does it Take to Lose 20 Pounds The Healthy Way?

How Much to walk according to bmi

How much to walk according to BMI depends upon which bracket you fall into and your end goal.

You can use a calculator to help you determine how much weight to lose according to your BMI, which will help you make a walking plan. Again, to lose 1 lb., you’ll need to walk about 10.5 hours or 35 miles or 70,000 steps.

Below, we make recommendations on how much to walk according to Body Mass Index bracket.

How much to walk if your BMI is below 18.5 (Underweight)

Adults with a BMI less than 18.5 are considered underweight. The concern here is that people in this category may not have enough muscle mass and therefore could be at risk of diseases such as osteoporosis and other issues associated with malnutrition.

If you fall into this category, it is recommended to walk the magic number of 10,000 steps a day. This will generally take about 5 miles (8 km) and 1.5 hours a day.

By the way, this magic number of 10,000 steps isn’t pulled out of thin air. Studies show that 10,000 steps offer optimal longevity and cardiovascular health. It is a number originally taken from the average steps of America’s healthiest community, surprisingly, the Amish.

Additionally, health guidelines recommend increased strength training to build muscle mass. We share a free Bodyweight Workout Plan that will help you achieve this.

How much to walk if your BMI is 18.5-24.9 (Healthy)

If your weight falls into the “healthy” category, congratulations! While you may have several health goals of your own, from a weight perspective, you’re right on target.

We recommend striving for 10,000 steps a day (roughly 5 miles/8 km or 1.5 hours of walking). According to research, this seems to be the sweet spot and goal for reducing cancer, respiratory disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, we also recommend that you supplement with strength or resistance training. You can use our free Bodyweight Workout Plan or another structured workout program (such as our list of the best Beachbody workouts). Strength training is critical for well-rounded fitness and bone density.

How much to walk if your BMI is 25-29.9 (Overweight)

How much should I walk if my BMI is 30? We recommend walking 10,000 steps or 90 minutes a day if you fall into BMI’s “overweight” category.

The good news is, within the year, you can move into the “healthy” weight bracket by walking an hour and a half a day. This is what it takes to lose 1 lb. a week.

Walking to lose 1 lb. of weight a week takes dedication, but it’s manageable if you can target 10.5 hours weekly. This equates to 10,000 steps, 5 miles, or 1.5 hours of walking a day.

You can use a simple pedometer, an app like Map My Run, or a wearable like an Apple Watch, FitBit, or Xiaomi Mi Band to track your progress.

To reach your goal, ramp up with our free 8-week walking plan (available in the free download found in this article and also in our article, “Walking to Lose Weight Chart.”) From there, continue walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day and chip steadily away at your extra weight.

How much to walk if your BMI is over 30 (Obese)

The BMI table breaks down obesity into three classes:

  • Obesity Class I BMI 30-34.9
  • Obesity Class II BMI 35-39.9
  • Obesity Class III BMI >40

Starting with an “obesity” diagnosis from your doctor, it’s important to discuss together their recommendations, especially if mobility issues are involved. The best route is to have a diet and exercise regimen overhaul.

Class III Obesity

If you’re in Obesity Class III with a BMI above 40, we recommend a 20-minute walk every day. You may need to build up to this goal, so we track how long you can walk and do your best to increase by just 5-10% every day.

Studies show that effective exercise programs for adults with BMI’s of Obesity Class III incorporate progressive resistance training for strength.

The keyword here is “progressive” and we recommend starting by seeing how far you can walk, to begin with. From there, you can get into more activity and exercises.

To get started, use a simple pedometer, an app like Map My Run, or a wearable like an Apple Watch, FitBit, or Xiaomi Mi Band to track your progress.

Class II Obesity

If you fall within Obesity Class II with a BMI of 35-39.9, we recommend working your way up to a 40-minute walk every day. Next, progress to 60 minutes when you’re able.

Class I Obesity

Finally, if your bracket is Obesity Class I with a BMI of 30-34.9, start by walking 60 minutes a day.

Once you build up to 60 minutes, follow along in the 8-Week Walking Plan found in this article’s free download. With the plan, you’ll work towards the 10,000 steps goal a day — or, in other words, losing 1 lb. a week.

We like to do these walks on their own, but if timing is an issue, you can log how often you walk throughout the day.

Daily mindless movement and activities like taking the stairs, parking far from the store, and setting a timer to take a 5-minute walk at work every hour all help immensely.

Finally, we recommend the Evidation app as the best self-care app that tracks your steps and workouts and pays you money as an incentive. Sweatcoin is another app with a great interface that lets you see steps taken as well. Both of these can help you with your accountability.

How much to walk according to BMI to lose weight guide

The Walking and BMI Weight Loss Guide

Download and get instant access to our free guide on how much to walk daily according to BMI.

As a bonus, you'll also get our body measurement chart and 8-Week Weight Loss Walking Plan. 

Closing THoughts on how much to walk based on BMI

How much to walk according to BMI isn’t an exact science.

It’s clear from the research that a goal of 10,000 steps a day is ideal. However, not everyone can physically walk 1.5 hours a day, nor has the time.

The good news, though, is that if you can make this commitment, you’re on track to lose about 1 lb. a week by doing nothing more than walking.

Depending on where your BMI falls on the table, it may mean that within a year or two, you may be able to get into a healthy weight range and have formed one of the healthiest, lifelong habits out there.

To get started, we recommend following our 8-week walking to lose weight plan which you can download free by entering your email.

Also, decide how you want to track your progress: with a timer, a pedometer, or a wearable that counts calorie burn.

For adults with BMI under 29.9, no matter if you’re “underweight,” “healthy,” or “overweight,” make your target 10,000 steps a day. This equates to 5 miles or 1.5 hours of walking a day and put you on target for losing 1 lb. a week.

If you’re diagnosed with a BMI >30, work with your doctor on recommendations. Adults with BMIs higher than 35 or 40 may need to work towards 1.5 hours of walking a day by starting slowly with a 20-minute walk.

Start small, increase by 5-10% daily if you can, and best yet, find an accountability partner to walk with you.

There are many things you can do to make walking enjoyable. Call a friend, listen to an audiobook or music, or even leave your phone at home and enjoy the silence of a nice walk outside.

Leave a comment below with what’s worked for you or questions that you have so that others can follow your example.

No matter what, take it step by step. You’ll get there!

How much to walk according to BMI to lose weight guide

The Walking and BMI Weight Loss Guide

Download and get instant access to our free guide on how much to walk daily according to BMI.

As a bonus, you'll also get our body measurement chart and 8-Week Weight Loss Walking Plan. 

As Seen In Feature Bar Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Hey we're Ryan and Alex

The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”

After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.

The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.

Duo Life Newsletter Signup Example Image

Optimize Your Life, One Friday at a Time

Enter your name and email address to sign up for our free newsletter, the Duo Life Letter. Each Friday receive evidence-based tips to elevate your health and relationship.

Pin It on Pinterest