Here’s How You Can Burn Twice As Many Calories While Walking


While there are no fad diets or miracle pills that can help you burn calories and keep extra pounds off for the long term, there is one exercise that can: walking. The best part? It doesn’t require any special training or equipment (just a pair of sneakers!) and you can do it literally anywhere.

“Walking is one of the fastest, easiest ways to burn calories, because you can squeeze it in any time, even inside your home,” says fitness expert and author Denise Austin.

What’s more, while your main purpose for walking may be to burn calories, you’ll reap a ton of other health benefits by upping your daily step count. Stacks of research show that the simple act of walking for at least 30 minutes a day can lower your blood pressure, improve your mood, strengthen your bones, improve digestion and so much more.

Walking is also a super versatile exercise. Depending on your setting, you can turn a walk into a mindful meditation session, a group fitness outing, a hike up a mountain or even a sightseeing tour.

But we know why you’re really reading this: Just how many calories will you burn by walking? “A quick guesstimate of how many calories the average person burns is 100 calories per mile — and that’s whether you’re running a marathon or taking a nice leisurely stroll,” says Timothy Burnett, Ph.D., an instructor of kinesiology at Oregon State University Cascades.

That means if you move at a really brisk pace and walk that mile in 12 minutes, you’ll burn 8.3 calories per minute; if you take 20 minutes to make that mile a leisurely stroll, you’ll burn 5 calories per minute. But when you get to the one-mile mark, you’ll have burned the same number of calories no matter what how fast you stepped. It’s just that the faster you go, the less time you will need to spend to burn the same calories.

We also want to note that weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to go on this diet, we invite you to gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.

That said, there is one other factor to consider. “For a long time, research has been dominated by doing tests on men,” says Burnett. “We’re correcting that now, but the ‘average person’ in these studies is a man who weighs 150 pounds.” So, if you weigh more than that, you will burn more than 100 calories per hour and if you weigh less, you’ll have to walk farther to burn the same number of calories. “The more you weigh, the more mass you have to move around, meaning you’ll burn more calories,” Burnett explains.

To estimate the rate for your specific weight, you can use this calculator from the American Council on Exercise, or take a look below at a rough calorie breakdown based on both your weight and the kind of walk you’re taking:

If You Weigh Between 120-140 Pounds

Walking at a Moderate Pace (3 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 50 calories
  • 30 minutes: 100 calories
  • 1 hour: 200 calories

Walking at a Fast Pace (4-5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 95 calories
  • 30 minutes: 185 calories
  • 1 hour: 370 calories

Walking Uphill (3.5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 90 calories
  • 30 minutes: 180 calories
  • 1 hour: 355 calories

Walking Up Stairs (3 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 120 calories
  • 30 minutes: 240 calories
  • 1 hour: 500 calories

Walking Downhill (2.5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 40 calories
  • 30 minutes: 85 calories
  • 1 hour: 165 calories

If You Weigh Between 140-160 Pounds

Walking at a Moderate Pace (3 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 60 calories
  • 30 minutes: 112 calories
  • 1 hour: 225 calories

Walking at a Fast Pace (4-5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 100 calories
  • 30 minutes: 214 calories
  • 1 hour: 430 calories

Walking Uphill (3.5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 102 calories
  • 30 minutes: 204 calories
  • 1 hour: 408 calories

Walking Up Stairs (3 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 130 calories
  • 30 minutes: 275 calories
  • 1 hour: 545 calories

Walking Downhill (2.5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 50 calories
  • 30 minutes: 95 calories
  • 1 hour: 190 calories

If You Weigh Between 160-180 Pounds

Walking at a Moderate Pace (3 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 65 calories
  • 30 minutes: 127 calories
  • 1 hour: 255 calories

Walking at a Fast Pace (4-5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 120 calories
  • 30 minutes: 245 calories
  • 1 hour: 485 calories

Walking Uphill (3.5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 115 calories
  • 30 minutes: 230 calories
  • 1 hour: 465 calories

Walking Up Stairs (3 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 155 calories
  • 30 minutes: 310 calories
  • 1 hour: 620 calories

Walking Downhill (2.5 mph)

  • 15 minutes: 54 calories
  • 30 minutes: 110 calories
  • 1 hour: 215 calories

How to Burn More Calories While Walking

Whether you have time for a quick stroll or a long hike, amp up your calorie burn with these strategies:

Stand up tall

This prevents your upper body from slumping down into your pelvis, and it allows your legs to swing freely, so you can pick up your pace. When you walk with good posture it also opens your chest to make breathing easier and research shows it lifts your mood.

Move your arms

Try pumping your arms back and forth as you walk. “The more muscles you use, the more calories you burn,” Austin points out. Plus, when you move your arms, your legs will automatically try to match the faster rhythm. Austin even likes to add in arm circles and tricep presses during her walk. She forgoes hand weights for safety reasons, but if you want to add mass, you can try wearing a weighted vest. Check out this one from Empower.

Gain some elevation

When you walk up a hill (or stairs if you live in an urban area), you’re doing concentric contractions, which means you’re making the muscles shorten as you’re contracting them, Burnett explains. “And because you’re working against gravity as well, you’re going to multiply how many calories you burn by around 10 to 30%,” he says. Austin says she climbs up and down two hills near her house to maximize her walking workout.

Include fast intervals

If you can’t go full speed for your entire walk, adding in short bursts of higher speeds can increase your burn. “Sometimes I do one block as fast as I can, and then I use the next block to slow it down a bit,” says Austin. “It’s great for your cardiovascular system. You’ll develop more stamina and endurance.” Plus, studies have found that varying your walking speed can help you burn up to 20% more calories.

Take shorter steps

When your front foot lands closer to your body, your upper body has more support, so it’s easier to move your back foot (and body weight) forward. All of this will make it easier to move at a faster pace.

Focus your gaze

Pick a spot ahead of you and lock your eyes on it. Research shows that people slow down when they’re looking all over and taking everything in.

Listen to upbeat tunes

Jamming out to a fast-paced soundtrack while you walk will naturally make you step quicker — and research shows it will make you happier. “Music isn’t just a mood booster, but it makes you walk faster and feel really free,” says Austin.

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Other Health Benefits of Walking

Burning calories isn’t the only health perk you get from walking. Here are five other benefits of walking to keep in mind:

Lower heart disease risk

Just like most muscles in your body, the heart gets stronger with exercise. One study of more than 80,000 postmenopausal women found those who walked the most had an 11% lower risk of high blood pressure than those who walked the least and the women who walked the fastest had a 21% lower risk than those who walked the slowest. Another study found that adding just 1,000 steps to your day can result in a 5 to 20% reduction in cardiovascular illness and death.

Stabilize blood sugar

Multiple studies have found that walking for just a few minutes after each meal can help keep blood glucose levels in check. That’s because your muscles need the glucose for fuel for the exercise, so it’s removed from your bloodstream.

Live longer

Folks who walk five or more days per week live up to four years longer than those who don’t, research shows. In fact, just 4,400 daily steps can reduce your risk of death, according to one study.

Sleep better

Whether you choose to walk in the morning or the evening, research has found that people who regularly walk say they sleep better. The exercise may help clear your mind and tire out your muscles, so you can drift off easier at the end of the day.

Improve brainpower

Studies show that regular walking increases brain size, improves cognitive performance, and boosts creativity. Some research even suggests that walking with a partner can help you solve conflicts together. Some scientists believe exercise improves blood flow to the brain, so it can function better.

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