How Many Calories Can You Burn By Walking More Often?

Walking is perhaps one of the easiest forms of cardio exercise. But how effective is it really to lose weight? How does walking more often burn enough calories to affect the scale? What can you do to get more out of a basic method of transportation?

Today, I’ll go over some of the ins and outs of walking for weight loss and how I’ve dropped more than 80 pounds by adding more steps.

Now, I can’t guarantee that you’ll lose a certain amount of weight by increasing your step goals. However, I can share with you how effective it is for me.

And why I am currently working towards walking one million steps in 80 days.

How Many Calories Do You Burn By Walking?

So, this isn’t the easiest question to answer. There are simply too many variables that come into play when calculating your burn by walking. And if you visit any other website, they’ll provide averages of people who are probably in far better shape than you are.

With that being said, I can give you an average of how many calories I burn by walking. According to my last five walks, I burn an average of 10.52 calories per minute. I usually maintain a 3.5 mph pace.

This is based on the Fitbit calorie data collected through my watch. And yes, I’ve found the Fitbit calorie burned data to be quite accurate in my experiences.

This also means that I need 948 steps to burn 100 calories. Of course, this also depends on a variety of factors.

Everyone is Unique

First of all, everyone will burn calories at a different rate regardless of the activity. A lot of it has to do with genetics, but most will come from external factors.

For example, someone who weighs 350 pounds will burn calories at a faster rate than someone who weighs 220. That’s just the tip of a relatively large iceberg.

This is why most studies and websites use an average of data. Because there are too many factors to consider, no one can give you an absolute breakdown based on your personal physique.

Now, what about environmental factors? Well, those are plentiful as well, including:

Speed Matters More than Distance

The rate at which you walk plays more of a role in calorie burn than the distance. So, someone who walks a mile in 30 minutes will burn fewer calories overall than someone who walks a mile in 15.

This is the difference between 2 mph and 4 mph.

Getting your heart rate up is merely a side effect of putting more energy into your legs to move at a faster rate. Because you’re trying to maintain the added effort, you’re going to burn more calories as energy.

It all comes down to putting in as much effort as possible to maintain a steady pace. The faster you move, the more you burn.

Think of it like this; who do you think burns more calories, someone taking a slow walk around a pond, or a basketball player putting in 12 solid minutes of running back and forth?

Now, do you need to be hauling yourself back and forth across the court to lose weight? It would help, but no. In fact, studies show how older adults can reap health benefits with fewer than 10,000 steps per day.

My point is that speed matters when walking to burn calories.

Ambient Temperature Makes a Difference

The ambient temperature will also have an impact on calorie burn. Well, it makes a difference by elevating the heart as your body is working overtime to cool itself.

When the temperature is hotter, your cardiovascular system works harder by pumping blood throughout the body.

I’ve experienced this myself as I noticed I burned far more calories the day it was pushing 97 degrees as opposed to a day when it was 81. My average and max heart rate increased and I was essentially drenched in sweat.

All of this while walking roughly the same distance and pace.

Of course, the opposite is true should you decide to walk during an especially cold day. This is thanks to the basal metabolic rate having to increase energy usage to ensure your body can maintain a stable temperature.

This can cause you to sweat while walking even if the temperature is below 30 degrees. You’re using excess energy beyond what your basal metabolic rate needs to keep you from freezing.

What Kind of Hills Do You Traverse?

Continuous elevation increases will also boost the number of calories you’ll burn while walking. This is because your body is essentially fighting gravity to climb that hill.

The number of calories you’ll burn will vary depending on the incline. This is why a lot of people will raise the treadmill to a certain level to simulate those hills while walking.

Coincidentally, increasing the elevation also puts more strain on the calf and thigh muscles, which provides a decent workout. It’s kind of like walking up the stair machines at the gym but to a lesser degree.

Of course, that also depends on the angle that you’re trying to walk.

4 Ways to Boost the Calories You Burn While Walking

Walking in any fashion is going to be greatly beneficial for you. However, there are ways you can vastly increase your exercise.

Here are some of the easiest ways to get more out of your walks.

Set Goals to Increase Speed

Instead of worrying mostly about the number of steps you take in a day, set goals to reach those steps sooner. This puts you more into the mindset of increasing your speed.

How long does it take you to walk a mile? Tomorrow, see if you can beat that time, even if it’s by one second.

This is one of the reasons why I like using Runkeeper. It’ll track your average pace over distance using GPS tracking. Then, Runkeeper will show you how the current walk compares to others you’ve made at roughly the same distance.

According to the CDC, you should aim for a heart rate that is 220 minus your age, and then fall between 64% and 76% of that in beats per minute, or BPM.

For example, I am 46 years old. So, 220 – 46 = 174 bpm. The ideal range of a moderate walk for me is getting my heart rate between 111 (174 x 0.64) and 132 (174 x 0.76).

Anything past that is pretty much a light jog and up.

Set Goals to Increase Duration

The longer the walk, the more calories you’ll burn. Create goals to get just a bit further with each walk.

For example, one of the quickest routes to Walmart from my house is roughly one mile. But if I go over an extra block to purposely make the walk longer, I’ll easily add a couple of thousand steps before I get home.

Instead of turning left at this block, turn left at the next.

There are all kinds of ways you can set goals to increase the duration of your walk. The hardest part for me is making sure I have the time for those extra steps.

Use Ankle Weights to Burn Calories While Walking

I’m a big fan of using ankle weights during a workout. The added weight forces your muscles to exert more energy to move. This not only increases the number of calories you’ll burn on a walk, but also stimulate muscle development of your calves and thighs.

It’s resistance training on a smaller scale but provides similar benefits. After about a half-hour of walking with 5 lbs weights on, you’ll feel like you can move amazingly fast after taking them off.

This will also work on the Type 1 muscle fibers in your legs, which makes them more resistant to fatigue. In other words, you won’t get tired as fast if you maintain a regular routine wearing the weights.

Cold versus Hot Temperatures

I was about to suggest walking when it’s hotter outside. However, that can actually be quite harmful. Not everyone can handle the same levels of heat. For example, walking 30 minutes non-stop in 93-degree weather will literally cause me to pass out.

I don’t handle the heat very well at all. This is why I take shorter walking breaks during the summer. I am prone to heat exhaustion.

However, there is something to be said about walking when it’s warmer outside. Use the heat of the summer months to your advantage to burn calories while walking. But make sure you’re not overdoing it and burning yourself out.

Stay hydrated and pay close attention to how you’re handling the higher temperature. Heat stroke is the last thing you want during a walk.

Are You Walking Regularly to Burn Some Calories?

Walking is probably one of the easiest ways to burn calories to lose weight. Although there are many things that will determine how much you’ll burn, there is no denying the health benefits of getting in more steps.

You don’t need a gym membership, special equipment, or even a fitness coach to lose weight while walking. Burn those calories by strapping on the shoes and taking a stroll around the neighborhood.

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Michael Brockbank

Since 2015, Michael has put in the effort to lose more than 80 pounds by gamifying fitness and eating proper portion sizes. He conducts extensive research into various health and fitness products to provide the best answers possible according to his own experience and knowledge.

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