How Many Calories Does Walking Burn?

March 3, 2016

With an ever growing percentage of the population overweight or even obese, many people exercise specifically for weight loss or to prevent weight gain. High impact activities like running are great; they burn a lot of calories and are very good for your heart and lungs but, if you are significantly overweight, all that impact has the potential to cause injury. And you can’t exercise if you are injured!

For that reason, very overweight people should look to low impact exercise as it’s easier on their already overstressed joints. A very good choice of exercise for overweight people is walking.

Why walk?

As well as being much easier on your joints than running, walking offers a number of additional benefits…

  • No special equipment is required
  • You can walk anywhere and anytime
  • Walking is free
  • Walking can save you time and money by getting you from A to B quickly and cheaply
  • Injuries due to walking are very rare
  • You can walk every day
  • Walking is ideal exercise for those who are not sporty
  • Walking can be sociable
  • Walking burns calories which can help with weight loss

Walking should be part of every weight loss program – even if you exercise at a gym or workout at home as well. Because walking is low stress, it can be done in addition to your regular workouts which means more calories burnt and faster weight loss.

How to lose a pound of fat…

It is estimated that you need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose one pound of fat. So, to lose one pound per week, you need to create a 500 calorie deficit per day. This can be achieved in one of three ways…

1) Solely through exercise

2) Solely through eating less

3) By combining exercise with eating less

Option three is the best. Relying solely on exercise means you have to do a lot of exercise every single day while relying solely on eating less means you will have to slash your food intake and hunger is going to be a constant companion. In contrast, the combination of moderate exercise and a moderate reduction in food intake means that you will be neither a slave to the gym or need to starve yourself. It’s the most sustainable option.

How many calories does walking burn?

To make sure you create the necessary calorific deficit to lose weight, it’s useful to know how many calories you are eating and how many you are using during exercise. To track your food intake, use an app such as MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople or LoseIt.

The number of calories you burn during exercise and, specifically, when you walk, is dependent on several factors…

The terrain – walking uphill and on uneven surfaces will burn more calories than walking on flat, smooth, surfaces.

Your speed – the faster you walk, the more calories you will burn. If you are serious about burning calories, make sure you walk briskly and use your arms for extra momentum and a higher energy expenditure.

Your weight – the heavier you are, the more calories you will burn when you walk. Your muscles will have to work harder to support your weight and carry you forward.

It’s not really possible to factor in terrain when you are calculating the number of calories you burn when walking but it is possible to factor in your bodyweight…

CALORIES/MILE 0.57 x weight in lbs
CALORIES/MIN 0.03 x weight in lbs

To use the chart above, simply multiply your weight (in pounds) by the number shown. For example, if you weigh 188 lbs, you will burn about 107 calories (188 x 0.57) when you walk a mile, or about 170 calories when you walk for 30-minutes (188 x 0.03 x 30 mins). Of course, you could use Stepz to calculate the number of calories you burn for you!

How to burn more calories when walking

If you want to burn more calories during your walks, try these strategies…

1) Walk uphill more – walking up hill is significantly harder than walking on the flat and will increase your calorific expenditure.

2) Try Nordic walking – walking with Nordic poles means your upper body has to work harder than normal which can increase your calorie expenditure by as much as 30%.

3) Carry some weight – whether you wear a backpack loaded with books, strap on a weighted vest, or carry dumbbells in your hands, walking with weight will cause you to burn more calories. Be aware, however, that walking with weight also increases the load on your joints so only add about 5-10 percent of your bodyweight. E.g. if you weigh 200 lbs., only carry an extra 10 to 20 lbs.

Knowing how many calories you burn during exercise makes it easier to calculate and achieve the calorie deficit required to lose weight. Remember though, these calculations are best-guess estimates and are not intended to be 100-percent accurate. However, they will allow you to gain a good perspective on whether you are eating and exercising appropriately for weight loss.

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