Calories Burned Walking - Everything You Need to Know
Calories Burned Walking - Everything You Need to Know

We all know how healthy it is for us to walk. With fitness trackers gaining more popularity, a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that we may be burning more calories than we think.

Over at the Southern Methodist University, researchers looked closely at the most common equations used over the past 40 years. This equation is what we generally use to calculate how many calories we burn while walking.

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The researchers found a couple major problems with these antiquated techniques - one study's sample size is six people, and the other is the equation doesn't account for the energy expenditure for people of different sizes.

For example, a heavier person will burn fewer calories per pound when walking the same distance as someone who weighs less.

So these researchers put these equations to the test and found that calorie estimates were too low in 97% of the time. The researchers also brought a solution to the table: They developed a new equation that is supposed to be two to three times more accurate in estimating the calories burned for adults.

They've used a larger sample size, and their calculation can also account for different weight and heights - as well as the speed you walk.

More about this study later.

For now, let's take a look at the benefits of walking... and why you should be doing it.

So How Many Calories Does Walking Burn?

“For an average height woman of 130 pounds walking at a typical speed of 2.9 miles per hour, the total energy expended to walk one mile would be 81 kilocalories (kilocalories is the proper name for what most people refer to as calories),” says study co-author Peter Weyand, Ph.D., a biomechanics professor and director of the Locomotor Performance Laboratory at Southern Methodist University.

The old equation would predict that you'll burn 68 calories per mile at 2.9 miles per hour. “For a faster walk of four miles per hour or so, the number of kcals burned increases to about 95 per mile,” says Weyand.

There's no clear sign if the new equation will be in the next Fitbit update, but for now, try to add as many steps per day you can.

Check out below for some tips on burning more calories.

How Many Calories Does a Pound of Fat Equal?

It takes 3,500 calories to equal one pound of fat.

In order to safely lose weight, a 1 to 2-pound weight loss per week goal should be followed. This allows yourself to gradually change bad habits and replace them with a healthier decision.

You would need to have a 500 calorie deficit every day to lose one pound per week. As much as that sounds, there are two ways you can achieve this. You can either eat less, move around more, or both.

Achieving a calorie deficit is easiest done by exercising to burn an additional 300 to 400 calories, and then just skip out on the soda or dessert. It doesn't take much to lose weight.

Finding out How Many Calories You Burn

You can get a good estimate on how many calories you burn by how far you walk, how fast you walk that distance, and how much you weigh.

A general rule of thumb is that you will burn 100 calories per mile if you weigh 180 pounds. You would only burn 65 calories if you weighed 120 pounds. Don't worry, your walking speed doesn't matter as much as you think.

Below we will go over how many calories a 140-pound person burns per mile versus a 275-pound person.

Comparison of Calories Burned - 140-Pound Person Versus 275-Pound Person

140-Pound Person

  • Mile 1 - 74
  • Mile 2 - 149
  • Mile 3 - 223
  • Mile 4 - 298
  • Mile 5 - 372
  • Mile 6 - 446
  • Mile 7 - 521
  • Mile 8 - 595
  • Mile 9 - 670
  • Mile 10 - 744
  • Half-Marathon - 975
  • Full-Marathon - 1949

275-Pound Person

  • Mile 1 - 146
  • Mile 2 - 292
  • Mile 3 - 439
  • Mile 4 - 585
  • Mile 5 - 731
  • Mile 6 - 877
  • Mile 7 - 1023
  • Mile 8 - 1170
  • Mile 9 - 1316
  • Mile 10 - 1462
  • Half-Marathon - 1915
  • Full-Marathon - 3830

As you see above, those who are overweight have a unique advantage to lose more weight per mile than those who weigh less. Walking is extremely important to a healthy lifestyle.

Tips on Burning More Calories

How far you walk has more of an effect on burning calories than changing the speed at which you walk. While striving to walk faster is a goal along with distance, a nice benefit to walking faster is you cover a greater distance in the same amount of time.

If you only have 15 to 30 minutes for walking time, putting a pep in your step certainly is a good strategy to burning more calories.

While you are walking, there are a few things you can do to improve how many calories you burn.

1.) Exaggerate Body Movement

Speedwalking, or racewalking, burn more calories per mile. Moving more muscles causes your body to burn more energy.

2.) Add Some High-Intensity Interval Training

Simply put, adding a few sprints into your walking routine will amp up how many calories you burn.

3.) Add More Intensity into Your Workout

Just like I mentioned high-intensity interval training above, there are other ways you can increase how many calories you burn.

Walking up a hill, stairs, or on a treadmill, incline burns more calories and ups the intensity of your workout.

Final Thoughts

Getting out there and walking is more important than trying to figure out exactly how many calories you burn.

Find activities you enjoy doing so that exercise doesn't feel like a chore.

Make it something you are driven to do.

Take the time to add in as many steps whenever you can - they all add up. Strive to walk a total of two to three miles per day to burn plenty of calories and improve your quality of life.