Walking is one of the simplest ways to get fit and maintain heart health. The American Heart Association's guidelines for physical activity indicate that healthy adults should aim to walk a minimum of 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes every weekday. Walking seven days per week will burn more calories, and you can add challenges to your walking workout that make it more of a cardiovascular or strengthening exercise.
Walking burns anywhere from 90 to 200 calories in 30 minutes. You burn fewer calories if you walk at the strolling rate of a 30-minute mile. You burn more calories walking at the brisk rate of a 17-minute mile. The more you weigh and the less fit you are, the more calories you burn in a half-hour walk. At these rates, you burn between 630 and 1,400 calories per week walking for 30 minutes every day.
Vary your walking workout to keep it interesting and you will also burn more calories. Incorporate a couple of inclines into your walking route. If you exercise on a treadmill, set it at a slope for part of the time. Walking more extreme inclines makes your workout more like hiking, which burns twice the amount of calories than walking on a flat route.
Add strengthening exercises to your walking workout to build muscle. Even though strength training does not burn considerable calories, it replaces your fat with lean muscle mass. Your body works harder to sustain your muscle mass, raising your resting metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day. Invest in light hand weights or wrist weights and pump your hands as you walk. Build lower body muscles by lifting your knees high during part of your walk. Stop every five minutes and do a series of squats or lunges.
As you get fit, you burn less calories doing the exact same workout. Shift your walking workout into a higher gear by doing interval training. Start at a warmup pace for a couple minutes and then walk at a brisk pace. Every five minutes, increase your pace to a sprint level, either by speed-walking, running or skipping rope. Maintain this burst of speed for 30 seconds. Return to a slow walk for a minute and then back to your vigorous pace before the next sprint. You dramatically boost your heart rate during the sprints, and it stays raised during the recovery period, resulting in more calories burned.