Walking might not have the same visual appeal as high-intensity interval training or step aerobics, but this simple exercise can be an efficient way to burn calories. Whether you're anxious to shed a few pounds or are just keen to avoid the middle-age spread, walking several times per week (in combination with a healthy diet, of course) can burn thousands of calories to help keep the excess pounds at bay. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen, even a light one.
More Calories = More Weight
Heavier people burn calories at a quicker rate than lighter people during every form of exercise, including walking. According to the University of Maryland Medical System, a 120-pound person who walks for 60 minutes at a moderate pace of 2 mph burns about 256 calories. People who weigh 180 and 240 pounds, however, burn about 384 and 512 calories, respectively, during the same length of walk at the same speed.
Increase Your Pace for a Quicker Burn
Your weight isn't the sole factor that dictates the rate that you burn calories during your walk. If you're able to increase your pace, the walk instantly becomes a more efficient calorie-burning activity. A 150-pound person burns about 240 calories in an hour of walking at 2 mph, notes the UMMS. When this person increases her pace to 3 mph, her hour-long walk burns about 320 calories. If she can sustain a 4.5-mph pace for 60 minutes, she'll burn about 440 calories on her walk.
Don't Shrug Off Walking
Walking doesn't burn calories as quickly as a number of other aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming or riding a bicycle. Walking, however, is a low-impact exercise that is ideal for a wide range of people, including those who contend with joint pain and aren't physically able to perform more up-tempo exercises. If you choose to use walking as your main source of aerobic exercise, set your weekly schedule to allow for a minimum of 2.5 hours of walking.
Step Toward a Healthier Body
Harvard Medical School notes that walking is an ideal form of exercise because of its simplicity. While other exercises can take a period of adjustment that can occasionally be frustrating, walking is a natural movement that doesn't require you to be a finely tuned athlete. The benefits of aerobic exercise, notes the Cleveland Clinic, include more cardiovascular endurance, better lung capacity and a lower risk of heart-related ailments. Exercises such as walking also help you to manage your stress.